To chart an equitable course forward for all Floridians, we must first understand the journey that brought us to where we are today. The following publication is the third in FPI’s “Pursue Equity” series, a part of a multi-year research initiative on Florida’s historically discriminatory policies, their evolution, and their impact on all Florida communities today.
When crisis and calamity take jobs away, the market economy alone cannot provide working people the help they need to make ends meet. That is where the Texas Unemployment Insurance system comes in. While the magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented, overwhelming the Texas Workforce Commission’s ability to serve applicants on a timely basis, it has also exposed structural weaknesses in the system. The millions of workers who lost jobs through layoffs or furloughs have had extraordinary difficulty applying for and accessing benefits. To modernize a critical earned benefit and better serve the needs of Texans, the Texas AFL-CIO and Every Texan (formerly known as the Center for Public Policy Priorities) propose the following reforms.
- Nearly 60 percent of Georgia’s pre-pandemic labor force have turned to the unemployment safety net at some point during the last year.
- In February 2021, unemployment claims for Black Georgians were 52 percent higher than those of all other filers, and 71 percent higher than those of white Georgians alone.
- Hispanic and Black women have experienced at least 15 percent underemployment since the pandemic, while underemployment for Black men was 18 percent in the first quarter of 2021, more than any other group in Georgia’s workforce.
Recent historic federal stimulus packages have extended critical unemployment safety net programs, provided immediate cash aid to millions of employed and unemployed Georgians and provided state and local funding to jumpstart Georgia’s recovery. As a result, state lawmakers have an opportunity to target federal and state funding to rebuild Georgia’s economy through racial and gender equity-centered solutions that can support economic mobility for all Georgians. However, more than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, data shows how some Georgians are beginning to recover, while others have experienced little to no recovery at all.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Alabama in March 2020, it didn’t just cause massive human suffering and economic disruption. It also revealed suffering and disruption that have long existed and that policymakers have long neglected – or even perpetuated.
COVID-19 has laid bare deep racial inequities in Alabama’s economy and social system that have left our state unprepared to meet the needs of its people in this disaster. As the workers predominantly on the front lines, women and people of color bore the brunt of the economic meltdown. They also simultaneously have suffered greater exposure to the virus that caused it.
Alabama has a weak safety net for struggling families and an approach to economic growth that all too often leaves workers underprotected and underpaid. This ongoing policy legacy has exacerbated the damage that the virus has wreaked on the state’s working people.
In The State of Working Alabama 2021, Alabama Arise explores COVID-19’s significant and negative impacts on the state’s workforce. We also look ahead to outline a state and federal policy agenda for repairing the damage – not by repeating the policy mistakes of the past, but by charting a new path toward a more equitable economy marked by broadly shared prosperity.