CLE’s grandmother confirms grim report on Ohio jobs
CLEVELAND – Delores Gray is a Cleveland grandmother who has felt firsthand the impact of the ongoing pandemic on jobs.
Gray said she quit her job at MetroHealth Medical Center because her family needed her for childcare due to pandemic job loss and job changes. Gray is now looking after his two grandsons.
Gray said she was not surprised by the findings of a 48-page report released on Labor Day by Policy Matters Ohio researcher Michael Shields, which indicates that employment issues related to the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on women, people of color and frontline workers here in Ohio.
“This problem is very real and it’s happening all over the country, not just in Ohio,” Gray said. “It is very serious when women lose their jobs because they cannot work because of this pandemic.”
“I know for myself it was really hard because I had to stay home with the boys. Very sad to think about it and actually experience it. And imagine a lot of women who have two or three children and live in a household with no income at all, it’s very, very difficult.
Shields told News 5 that her report, which included data from the state and the latest federal census, indicated that women had particularly lost ground in the wage gap and employment status during the pandemic.
“We still have about 265,000 fewer jobs in Ohio than before COVID-19,” Shields said. “Many more Ohioans of color have lost their jobs due to COVID-19, and have also worked in frontline jobs, which put them at higher risk.
“Many women have lost their jobs or have had to quit their jobs to take a step back and take on more responsibility for caring for their children and loved ones. “
The report, entitled “The State of Work in Ohio 2021: Meeting the Present Moment, “came to the following conclusions:
- COVID-19 has disproportionately forced low-paid Ohioians out of their jobs – skewing wage data that shows a higher median wage last year. For example, there were nearly 25% fewer waitresses and waiters in Ohio than in 2019. The entertainment and hospitality industry accounted for 28% of all jobs in the state destroyed during COVID .
- People in “essential jobs” are at higher risk of exposure to COVID; are more likely to be black or brown, and are also paid almost 13% less than those in non-essential jobs.
- COVID-19 has exacerbated long-standing structural barriers that maintain the wages of black, brown and immigrant workers and exclude them from employment opportunities. Last year, white Ohioans were paid $ 21 an hour at the median, compared to $ 16 for black Ohioians. At 15%, the unemployment rate for blacks in Ohio was more than double the rate for whites in Ohio, 6.8%.
- Ohio women were more likely than men to be made redundant or forced to quit their jobs, reversing years of progress. Their employment rate relative to the population increased from 55.6% in 2019 to 52.7% in 2020. Women were paid $ 18 per hour compared to $ 21.50 for men.
Shields made a number of policy recommendations to help Ohio continue its recovery from a pandemic, especially for women and minorities.
“Lawmakers need to protect the right of workers to join a union – and can start by passing the federal Protection of the Right to Organize (PRO) act,” Shields said. “State and local policymakers can use US bailout dollars to center workers with a risk premium for essential workers; enforce laws on wages and hours; and ensure that the whole community benefits from public projects, not just the companies that win the contracts. “
“Federal policymakers should continue and put in place permanent stimulus programs that offer Americans more financial stability, such as the expanded child tax credit and unemployment assistance in the event of a pandemic.”
Shields also recommended that Ohio increase its minimum wage to $ 15 an hour, including tipping workers by 2026, which Gray agrees to do to help low-income families maintain their housing and other basic needs.
“It’s so crucial because families are also becoming homeless because of this situation and being evicted from their homes because of the situation,” Gray said. “$ 15 an hour is the most important thing for families, where they can be able to pay the bills and pay the rent and the mortgages and be able to stay afloat.