In 2020 the world faced a pandemic of sweeping proportions. COVID-19 led to a crisis affecting almost every country around the globe. In the United States, the gross domestic product decreased 3.5% in 2020, the most significant drop since 1948. The COVID-19 pandemic reduced consumption expenditures and private investment[1], leaving millions of Americans out of work and in poverty. While many experienced fear and uncertainty during the pandemic’s first months, those feelings have evolved into resilience and hope over time. Within a few months, researchers rolled out a vaccine using brand-new technology and developed therapies for combating COVID-19. In December 2020, the U.S. began a vaccination program that thus far has reached 60.4[2] percent of the population. We have learned a lot about COVID-19; however, there is still a long road ahead.

Regrettably, Hispanics have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. While the effects of the pandemic have touched all races and ethnicities, Hispanics have sustained deep economic blows due to disparities in wealth, income inequality[3], and the fragility of Hispanic small businesses[4]. Hispanics face a higher risk of hospitalization or death than some other racial and ethnic groups[5], in part due to health disparities[6], as well as having jobs with a higher risk of exposure to the virus[7] and in sectors that are more heavily affected[8].

But how has COVID-19 affected Hispanics’ labor market outcomes, particularly among women? Has the pandemic increased food insecurity in Hispanic households? How do health disparities and the vaccine rollout determine the effects of COVID-19 and the recovery of the Hispanic community? These are some of the questions that we explore in this issue of the Hispanic Economic Outlook. Today, Hispanics represent 18.7 percent of the U.S. population and learning what factors impact their labor market outcomes is crucial to understanding the overall recovery of the U.S. labor market.

As economists, we can speak with particular knowledge to the issues of race across ethnic groups, disparities in health and education, and the policy issues affecting Hispanics in the United States. One of the objectives of the American Society of Hispanic Economists (ASHE) is to promote research on the economic and policy issues affecting Hispanic communities; today, this mission becomes more relevant as Hispanics seem to be more vulnerable than ever to economic hardship.

This year, ASHE will also focus on engaging more Hispanics in the profession and on promoting mentoring programs to help its members advance their career goals. We will organize conferences and brown bag seminars to disseminate your research and to create networks with major news outlets to specifically broadcast this scholarly work. Finally, ASHE will concentrate its efforts on strengthening the value of our membership. We will also continue to work with other organizations that represent minorities to increase overall diversity in the profession.

Thank you for being an individual or an institutional member; thank you for your participation and support. Stay connected; we hope to see you participating in our activities this year. If you have any comments and suggestions, do not hesitate to contact us. Let’s put our minds together; together, we can make things happen.

With kind regards,

Sandra Orozco-Aleman

[1] Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

[2] Fully vaccinated people as percent of US population. Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Last accessed December 8, 2021.

[3] Parker, Kim, Juliana Menasce Horowitz, and Anna Brown, 2020. About Half of Lower-Income Americans Report Household Job or Wage Loss Due to COVID-19. Pew Research Center, Washington, DC.

[4] Orozco, Marlene, Inara Sunan Tareque, Paul Oyer, and Jerry I. Porras, 2020. The Ongoing Impact of COVID-19 on Latino-Owned Businesses. Research Brief, Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative, Stanford, CA.

[5] Jacobson, Mireille, Tom Y. Chang, Manisha Shah, Rajiv Pramanik, and Samir B. Shah, 2021. Racial and Ethnic Disparities in SARS-CoV-2 Testing and COVID-19 Outcomes in a Medicaid Managed Care Cohort. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Volume 61, Issue 5, pp. 644-651.

[6] CDC, 2021. Health Equity Considerations and Racial and Ethnic Minority Groups. National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Division of Viral Diseases, Atlanta, GA.

[7] Reitsma, et al. 2021. Racial/Ethnic Disparities in COVID-19 Exposure Risk, Testing, and Cases at the Sub county Level in California. Health Affairs, Vol. 40, No. 6, pp.870-878.

[8] Krogstad, Jens Manuel, Ana Gonzalez-Barrera, and Luis Noe-Bustamante, 2020. U.S. Latinos among hardest hit by pay cuts, job losses due to coronavirus. Pew Research Center, Washington, DC.

Sandra Orozco-Aleman, PhD
Associate Professor of Economics

Mississippi State University