Asian Americans are disproportionately slower in economic recovery compared to some other racial groups in the United States, ABCNews reports.
Now, at 10.7%, Asian American unemployment rate is higher than that of White and “Hispanic” Americans, but still lower than that of Black Americans. The statistic is unexpected, as Asian American unemployment rate was lowest “across the board” at the beginning of the pandemic’s spread.
According to Roll Call, Asian Americans are now facing the highest unemployment the group has seen on record and “a decline in working business owners twice that of Whites.”
One factor may be President Donald Trump’s repeated use of words like “kung flu” and “Wuhan virus,” which have been associated with racist and xenophobic harassment and attacks.
On a structural level, the U.S. government’s pandemic intervention and recovery plan may have failed the Asian American community on both the economic and political levels.
The government has not provided adequate outreach for individuals and communities that experience language barriers, making relief much more inaccessible, Roll Call reports.
For example, the U.S. Small Business Administration website did not have Asian languages at the beginning of the pandemic and Paycheck Protection Program only has documents in some Asian languages, according to ABCNews.
Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) told Roll Call that relief and intervention Asian American-owned small businesses received from the government came too late.
“The Asian American community has so many small businesses, and small businesses has been the key to the American dream since Asian immigrants started coming to our shores,” Chu said. “To have this situation has been so devastating.”
“We have heard that people feel that the Asian American community has largely been ignored in the COVID public health response,” Northwestern University professor Namratha Kandula told ABCNews, “specifically that there are not linguistically and culturally appropriate materials or enough ethnic media outreach to really help the community understand what are the prevention measure that need to be taken.”
Furthermore, a significant number of Asians work in the most hard-hit and essential industries. They comprise 17% of workers in dry cleaning, 46% of nail salons, compared to their 6.5% in the labor force overall, Roll Call reports.
Around 1.4 million of healthcare workers are Asian American, with almost 1 million being immigrants, according to The Hill. This large work force may experience language barriers as well as barriers to COVID-prevention information and healthcare.
Adding to the economic toll, Asian Americans are also disproportionately represented in COVID-19 death rates, along with other communities of color.
“The number of lives lost to the coronavirus is significantly higher than the official toll,” The Marshall Project stated. “And half the dead were people of color—Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans and, to a marked degree unrecognized until now, Asian Americans.”
The devastation of Asian American small businesses and communities continue while the American public stares down a presidential election in which Asian Americans will have a large political influence, according to The Hill.
While the Asian American electorate leans Democrat, a survey by Asian and Pacific Islander Vote found that nearly 60% of registered Asian voters indicated they were contacted by neither major parties.
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