NBC News

By: Janelle Ross

March 25, 2020

“I think almost any time we have an economic crisis — speaking more specifically about black folks and Latinos — the same groups of people are going to be severely harmed because in the best of times, they are subjected to marginalization,” said Sandy Darity, an economist at Duke University who researches economic stratification as well as the way race shapes economic and social policy. “The pattern is clear. Everyone loses work, but people of color lose more of them. This time it seems the job losses will be really severe for some, while others are called upon to possibly put themselves at greater risk.”

What the nation has long needed, Darity said, is a federal work guarantee program. In good times, few people would need to do work directed by the federal government and collect wages from the same source. In bad times, like the current pandemic and the likely recession to follow, that infrastructure could expand to put even more people to work on critical priorities and needs.

The potential severity of the impact on workers of color is a matter of deep concern to some of the nation’s leading civil rights organizations. Last week, representatives of the NAACP and the National Urban League joined a conference call with dozens of civic organizations and members of the Democratic Senate leadership.

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