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20% of African Americans could work from home, according to labor department data, compared with 30% of whites.
The coronavirus has hit the African American and Hispanic community particularly hard. In New York City, for example, the death rate for African Americans is double the white death rate.
In an interview on CNN, Desiree Rogers, CEO of the cosmetic firm Black Opal Beauty and former social secretary in the Obama administration, said the jobs black people do put them more at risk.
"We know that only 20% of African Americans had jobs where they could work from home," Rogers told CNN June 10. "What does that tell you? They don't have the capacity to be able to work from home. They have service jobs, and so that means they have to be out."
Social distancing under COVID-19 thrust millions of workers into telework. Rogers’ stat that only one in five African Americans were able to exercise that option is accurate.
The American Time Use Survey has been asking households how they spend their time since 2003. Broadly, people report what they have done in a 24-hour period.
According to the latest survey data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 19.7% of African Americans could work at home. The fraction was even lower for Hispanics — about 16%. The option to work at home was available to 30% of whites and 37% of Asians. The figure for all workers is 28.8%.
Economists at the Bureau of Labor Statistics said their survey doesn’t show why the numbers play out the way they do, but they pointed to government data on race and ethnicity and type of job.
Black Americans represent a bit over 12% of all workers, but are 26% of workers in health care support occupations, a field that includes hospitals and nursing homes. Those are places of high risk for exposure to the coronavirus.
There are other reasons why the virus has a disproportionate impact on African Americans, including underlying health conditions and less access to health care.
Rogers said that only 20% of African Americans have jobs where they could work from home. That’s pretty much exactly what government data show.
We rate this claim True.
CNN, First Move, June 10, 2020
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 in Racial and Ethnic Minority Groups, June 4, 2020
Economic Policy Institute, Not everybody can work from home, March 19, 2020
Bureau of Labor Statistics, JOB FLEXIBILITIES AND WORK SCHEDULES — 2017-2018, Sept. 24, 2019
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table 1. Workers who could work at home, did work at home, and were paid for work at home, by selected characteristics, averages for the period 2017-2018, Sept. 24, 2019
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employed persons by sex, occupation, class of worker, full- or part-time status, and race, Jan. 22, 2020
Email exchange, Rose Woods, economist, American Time Use Survey, Bureau of Labor Statistics, June 16, 2020
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