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Lockdowns Hurt Young People of Color the Most

Coronavirus lockdowns hurt young people of color between the ages of 20-24 the most, according to a report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).

In the first three months of 2021, about 3.81 million people in that age bracket were not in work or school, a 740,000 (24 percent) increase compared to the same time last year, according to the report.

When broken down by race and ethnicity, the Not in Education, Employment, or Training (NEET) rate shows even greater disparities.

The NEET rate for all 20- to 24-year-olds increased from 14.7 percent to 18.3 percent between last year and this year. For black young people, the percentage grew from 20.9 percent to 24.8 percent. For Hispanics, it was 16.2 percent to 19.7 percent, and for white people, it was 12.8 percent to 15.9 percent.

“About one-in-four Black 20- to 24-year-olds were neither in school nor working during the first quarter of 2021 compared to about one-in-five Hispanics and one-in-six whites,” the report states. 

The increase in NEET rates for 20- to 24-year-olds between 2020 and 2021 appears to be driven exclusively by large employment declines and offset slightly by a modest increase in school attendance:

Young adults tend to get hit harder during recessions and experience more long-term consequences from downturns in comparison to older workers. Previous analysis from CEPR has found that young people were hit hard by the pandemic and were largely employed in sectors that did not allow remote work options and would not be as quick to recover from the pandemic’s shock. Young adults remain disproportionately affected by the economic shock.

People of color have “also been more vulnerable to job and income losses from the ensuing economic crisis, in large part because Black and Latino workers are over-represented in the service industries wiped out by shutdowns,” Politico reported in December of 2020. 

The top ten states with the harshest lockdowns during the coronavirus pandemic were California, Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Washington, according to the New York Times. Each of those states have Democrat governors. 

Amid calls for “equity,” states insistent on prolonged lockdowns hurt the very people they aim to help.

“Inactive youth is a worrying sign for the future of the economy, as they don’t gain critical job skills to help realize their future earnings potential. Further, high NEET rates may foster environments that are fertile for social unrest,” Bloomberg reported.