New report shows Pennsylvania working families in greatest need of pandemic relief

A Black woman working from home during pandemic.
Photo credit Drazen Zigic/Getty Images
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A new report from the Keystone Research Center shows that Pennsylvania working families have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, with certain groups suffering more than others. Researchers suggest government must act to avoid economic disaster.

Titled "State of Working Pennsylvania 2020," the report lays out some of what we already knew, that COVID-19 has plunged the Commonwealth into a deep recession. But it also confirms anecdotal evidence that people of color, women and low wage workers have been hit the hardest. They are more likely to have lost jobs, and for those who are still working, are more likely to be on the front line of the pandemic.

"Those folks have to take greater risks with their lives because we depend so much on the work that they do," said Stephen Herzenberg, an economist with the Keystone Research Center who helped write the report.

He said wages for Black workers are on average 25% lower than those of white workers and low wage worker pay has been stagnant for years. As a result, working families are struggling to pay for necessities, with immigrant families being left out of COVID-19 relief entirely. Herzenberg argues that state and federal government solutions must put money in people's pockets.

"If we continue to get stagnation or decline in working people's income, the economy at best will continue to limp forward. So we need to move the economy forward with rising incomes, which will continue to move the economy forward," added Herzenberg.

In the short term, he said there needs to be more pandemic relief focused on housing and families, with along term focus on wages.

The full report is available here.