Research & Data Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Alliance Analysis: COVID Crisis Highlights Economic Disparities

The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted and heightened economic disparities of race, ethnicity and gender. The following dashboards reveal data on business ownership and employment trends by race and gender in Charlotte Region industries. 

Gender disparities in unemployment rates have been apparent during the COVID-19 crisis. Women made up more than 55 percent of North Carolina unemployment claims in April 2020 for example, despite making up less than 50 percent of the total workforce. Much of this disparity is due to the occupations in which women work. Health care is the Charlotte Region's largest employer and more than 80 percent of health care workers are women. Business and financial operations occupations show more of a nearly equal representation of men and women.  

Women business owners are also more concentrated in the health care sectors. Women own 32% of health care-related businesses compared to 20% of businesses overall. Women are underrepresented as business owners in most industries, with higher concentrations in health care, educational services (30%), Real Estate (28%) and Professional Services (26%). 

Joint-ownership of businesses by men and women are common in several industries, particularly Educational Services (21.1%), Transportation and Warehousing (18.6%), and Real Estate and Rental and Leasing (15%).

While employment data is updated annually, the most recent standardized data on business ownership available by race and gender dates to 2012.  

Minority-owned businesses are also highly concentrated in industries affected by COVID-19, particularly Accommodation and Food Services and Health Care. About 22% of restaurants of Accommodations and Food Services businesses are Asian-owned, whereas nearly 14% of health care services are owned by African Americans. Overall, about 6% of all businesses with paid employees were Asian-owned, 4.2% were owned by African Americans, and 2.2% by Hispanics of any race. 

Average wages also vary by race, ethnicity and industry. Across all industries for workers employed at least a year, average wages for whites ($50,840) and Asians ($53,628) are significantly higher than for African Americans ($33,688) and Hispanics ($36,100). Disparities within industries are even more apparent. For example, within the health care industry, Asian workers average $103,000 annually, while African American workers average less than $31,000.  African American salaries across all industries remain lower on average compared to other groups with their highest salary in Financial Services at around $51,000. 

Income and entrepreneurship rates are two aspects contributing to the wealth gap between African American and white families nationwide and in the Charlotte Region, as the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute has highlighted in a recent report

Minority groups are overrepresented in a variety of industries, mostly vulnerable and requiring front-line workers. While African American workers represent only 22.9% of the workforce across all industries, they are overrepresented in industries including Administrative and Support and Waste Management (35.6%), Transportation and Warehousing (31.3%), and Health Care (28.7%), but underrepresented in Construction (9.9%). Asians are overrepresented in Professional Services (9.3%), Finance and Insurance (5.6%) and Information (5.1%). Hispanics across all races are more represented in Agriculture (18.5%) and Construction (12.6%).

Posted by: Akofa Dossou, Director, Economic Research @ 12:00:00 am


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