Intersecting and Multiplicative Impacts of Covid-19

by Dr. Francena Turner / Jun 22, 2020

The Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW) recently published a report, “Education, Race, and Jobs in the COVID-19 Crisis,” which explores the economic impact of Covid-19 and the nationwide shelter-in-place directives on various groups in the United States.

While Anthony P. Carnevale and Artem Gulish presented their findings with regard to education, age, race and ethnicity, parenting status, and socioeconomic status separately, those groups identified as having faced the heaviest losses intersect at points that further compound their experiences. Additionally, those most affected by Covid-19 are individuals who belong to demographics that most often enroll in or have matriculated through career and technical education (CTE) programs at the community college level.

Carnevale and Gulish named many among the demographics that are most historically marginalized as those currently the most economically vulnerable: Black people and people of color (POC), those without a bachelor’s degree, the young, those living in low-income households, and parents requiring childcare.

Black people and POC are overrepresented in the hospitality, retail, and domestic service fields that saw massive closures and shutdowns, though current unemployment numbers are yet incomplete. Unemployment statistics do not include freelance workers, gig workers, undocumented workers, those who may have quit prior to being fired due to lack of childcare during the pandemic, and those who do not or simply have not registered with the unemployment office for one reason or another.

Black and POC workers also disproportionately hold positions as medical techs, nursing assistants, dental assistants, environmental services technicians as well as home health, personal care, and dietary aides in hospitals, nursing homes, and in homes with those who are already ill. This situates them among those at high risk for contracting Covid-19 as their jobs are both essential and impossible to do from home. As colleges, cities, and other businesses halted construction projects, manufacturing and construction workers faced further declining employment opportunities.

As part of our mission to investigate, foreground, and eradicate equity gaps in CTE, the OCCRL CTE Gateway to Equity research team assessed ways that Covid-19 and the responses to the pandemic present challenges and opportunities for CTE programs and community colleges. In the piece “COVID-19 and the New Normal: Resources for Addressing Challenges in the CTE Classroom and Workforce,” we explored ways central CTE programs such as health sciences, culinary arts and hospitality, and transportation responded to rapid changes. We also provided suggestions on how commercial driver’s license (CDL) programs might aide the transportation and distribution industries.

"COVID-19 and the New Normal" explores how central CTE programs responded to rapid change.

The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted already existing equity and access concerns. We investigated issues in financial aid, wraparound supports such as mental health, food assistance, and tutoring, and we provided links to resources that community colleges can use to improve their online support to students with disabilities.

We also addressed the ways student access, or lack of access, to high-quality Internet, technological literacy, computers, and quiet spaces in which to work may impact their course completion. Lastly, we provided helpful resources for planning the physical reopening of community colleges.

Any investigation of the impacts of Covid-19 must explore the ways different facets of our identities intersect to multiply our personal, economic, and health implications, as well as our responses to the pandemic.