CHN’s COVID-19 Watch: Tracking Hardship May 28, 2021


May 28, 2021

COVID-19 HardshipMay 28, 2021 

They Don’t Care Why You’re Out of Work edition. So far, 24 states have announced they will terminate federal pandemic unemployment benefits sometime in June, months before they will expire. They don’t seem to have tighter labor markets than the other states; J.P. Morgan analysts opine that “early ends to UI look tied to politics, not economics;” it turns out all of these states are headed by Republicans. The numbers below make these points: (1) there’s still a lot of joblessness: fewer jobs than people seeking them; (2) people have reasons for not working, even when there are open jobs: COVID is still taking a toll, disproportionately among Black, Latino and Indigenous people, and there are roadblocks to getting vaccinated; they don’t have child care (especially tough on women); and (3) people are still hurting: more than one-quarter (nearly 62 million) are in households having serious trouble paying their regular bills, and it’s a lot worse for Black and Latino households. Nevertheless, these governors will stop at least 3.6 million of their residents from receiving $300/week in federal benefits (and end all assistance if they’re gig or self-employed workers, since state benefits do not cover them). According to data from the Century Foundation, their actions will cost their states nearly $22 billion. That wouldn’t seem like good politics, but it sure may force some people back to work in low-paying and even unsafe jobs.

The nation needs more federal protections and investments, to create good jobs, provide child care, lift children and families out of poverty – you know, Build Back Better. Please tell your Senators and Representative to hurry up and vote for these investments in our future: click here.



15.8 million   

That’s how many people were receiving unemployment benefits as of May 8, of whom 6.5 million were receiving federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), the only help for jobless gig or self-employed workers. Tweet this.


-3.6 million /24  

As of May 27, 24 states have plans to end federal unemployment benefits starting in June, cutting $300/week in benefits for more than 3.6m workers; most of these states will end PUA (see above) and leave those jobless with no aid at all. Tweet this.


-8.2 million


The U.S. still has 8.2 million fewer jobs than it had before the pandemic. That means workers cut off in the 24 states may not find work very easily. Tweet this.


12 for 10  

The economy is getting better, but there were still 12 jobless workers for every 10 job openings in March. Tweet this.


8.1 million 

Women’s unemployment rate, in April 2021, if you add to the official rate the 2 million women who’ve left the labor force since February 2020. Tweet this.


2.4 million 

How many people left a job, lost a job, or did not look for work because child care was not available – that’s more than 40% of all the adults who couldn’t get care for their children in the previous 4 weeks because of the pandemic (surveyed from 4/28 – 5/10). Tweet this.


30 million; half 

People in the U.S., who want to get vaccinated but are unable – often because they can’t take time off work or get to vaccination sites. Nearly half (48%) of those who haven’t gotten the COVID vaccine are concerned they’ll miss work because of side effects. 


55%/41%/32% /31%/27%  

Percentage of U.S. residents with at least one vaccine dose, by race/ethnicity: Asian (55%); White (41%); Indigenous (32%); Latino (31%); Black (27%). Latinx and Black workers are more likely to be in front-line jobs; less likely to have vaccine protection.


3.5x; 2.5x /
3x; 2x

Indigenous Americans are 3.5 times more likely to be hospitalized and 2.5 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than White Americans. Black and Latino/Hispanic Americans are 3 times more likely to be hospitalized and 2 times more likely to die. 


1 in 4, or more 

More than 1 in 4 Americans (27%) found it somewhat or very difficult to pay for their usual household expenses in the past 7 days; that was true of ; 42% of Black; 36.5% of Latino; 23% Asian; 21% White Americans (surveyed April 28 – May 10).