The Student News Site of MAST Academy

The Beacon

The Student Newspaper of MAST Academy, since 1991.
The Student News Site of MAST Academy

The Beacon

The Beacon

Senior Issue 2024
June 5, 2024

What COVID-19 has taught us about America’s wealth gap

By Alexandra Fadel
Staff Writer

With the sudden (and belated) realization of just how serious the coronavirus pandemic is, Americans find themselves in a new problem: they are losing their jobs. The American economy has suffered a tremendous shock as a result of the pandemic. People of color and other minorities, specifically, have been disproportionately affected by this time of confinement.  

When approaching the situation realistically, it is immediately clear that the pandemic would affect people in different ways. Since not all jobs have the option to continue remotely, many people who work in hospitality, services, and tourism are now left to search for employment. These industries are made up of low-income jobs under normal circumstances, making them the hardest hit amidst this pandemic. 

Among employees or ex-employees who are currently struggling, people of color make up the majority, as they have been for many years. Coming from centuries of oppression and a white-dominated society, people of color still face inequalities in their opportunities to get good, high-paying jobs. 

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According to a 2016 report from Georgetown University, 77% of white employees had “good jobs” (defined by them as “[jobs] that pay at least $35,000 per year, at least $45,000 for workers age 45 and older, and $65,000 in median earnings in 2016”), black employees had 10%, and Latino employees had 13%. Although this is merely a statistic to illustrate the vast difference, the real disproportion is found in how the systemic nature of white domination within the economy prevails.

Generally, as white Americans have an advantage in a system that gives them the upper-hand by providing resources they may need to succeed, education and job opportunities become more readily available to them first. Many minorities are then left with the lower-income, labor-intensive, or undesirable lines of work. 

As the pandemic hit lower-income jobs the hardest, inevitably these minority groups were exposed to the worst consequences America’s economy had to offer. Keeping in mind these groups already were not making substantial amounts of money, saving for an unexpected disaster such as COVID-19 was well out of reach. 

This pandemic has widened the gap in the imbalance of job quality, pay, and flexibility between people of color, other minorities living in America, and their counterparts. As the country’s approach to handling COVID does not improve, the employment and financial struggles of these groups continue to worsen, and economic recovery starts to seem impossible.

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What COVID-19 has taught us about America’s wealth gap