Volume 47 - Article 33 | Pages 1019–1032  

The COVID-19 pandemic’s unequal socioeconomic impacts on minority groups in the United States

By Weiwei Zhang, Deepthi Kolady


Background: Socioeconomically disadvantaged groups disproportionately reported experiencing adverse circumstances resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic’s socioeconomic impacts. Overarching factors associated with differentiated risks in the United States include race and ethnicity.

Objective: We aim to examine: (1) the differentiated risk of experiencing adverse circumstances by race and ethnicity in the United States and (2) the trend in adverse outcomes and racial/ethnic differences in the past two years.

Methods: The study utilized 49 data cycles from the Household Pulse Survey from April 2020 to September 2022. The outcomes are adverse experiences, including loss of employment income, food scarcity, housing insecurity, and unmet needs for mental health services. The racial and ethnic groups are non-Hispanic White, non-Hispanic Black, non-Hispanic Asian, non-Hispanic other minorities, and Hispanic. We compared weighted percentages of the total population and racial and ethnic groups reporting having experienced adverse circumstances during every data collection period.

Results: We found that except for non-Hispanic Asians, racial and ethnic minorities were more likely to report loss of employment income, food scarcity, housing insecurity, and unmet needs for mental health services. Prevalence estimates by race/ethnicity for each cycle illustrated the persistent racial/ethnic disparities from April 2020 to the present.

Conclusions: The adverse socioeconomic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic tended to be disproportionately higher for most racial and ethnic minorities compared to non-Hispanic Whites, and this trend continues.

Contribution: This paper analyzes real time population survey data to demonstrate the extent of unequal and adverse socioeconomic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on minority groups and highlights the persistence of these trends in adverse socioeconomic outcomes.

Author's Affiliation

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