ISSN 2330-717X

New Data Sheds Light On Workers In Industries At The Pandemic Frontline


This health care emergency has raised the importance of workers often under appreciated. With a new data analysis, published Tuesday by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), we can see that a disproportionate number of these workers are also low-income, lack insurance, and are women.

A Basic Demographic Profile of Workers in Frontline Industries, by CEPR’s Hye Jin Rho, Hayley Brown, and Shawn Fremstad, provides a picture of workers in occupations like grocery store clerk, nurse, cleaner, warehouse worker, and bus driver that are found mostly in six industry groups.

In addition to the analysis of national data, the authors have also provided state-by-state tables available on the CEPR website.

At the national level, data show workers in frontline industries are disproportionately women. Certain frontline industries stand out for having a high incidence of uninsured workers, workers living in low-income families, or overrepresented by workers of color or immigrants.

Such data point to policy actions that would most ensure that all frontline workers have: 1) comprehensive health insurance that includes free coverage of COVID-19 testing and treatment; 2) paid sick leave and paid family leave; 3) free childcare; 4) student loan relief; and, 5) consumer and labor protections, including hazard pay or additional compensation. Frontline workers who are immigrants should be protected regardless of their current immigrant status.

Finally, the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration should immediately issue an Emergency Temporary Standard requiring all employers to provide specific and necessary protections for frontline workers. 

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The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) promotes democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people's lives.

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