Study: Less Educated Asian Americans Took Biggest Job Hit

Asian female wearing a face mask shopping at the supermarket.

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Among the less educated, Asian Americans were more likely than other racial groups to lose their jobs when the pandemic hit, perhaps because of anti-Asian sentiment, according to a new study.

The study of Bureau of Labor Statistics data found that among men who did not have a bachelor’s degree, for example, Asian-Americans were 9.7 percentage points more likely to become unemployed than their non-Hispanic White counterparts when lockdowns began. By comparison, non-Hispanic Black workers without degrees were only 1.8 percentage points less likely than non-Hispanic Whites to lose their jobs, according to researchers at the University of Kansas who are publishing their findings in an upcoming issue of Research in Social Stratification and Mobility.  

“No other less-educated racial minorities are negatively affected by the lockdown as much as Asian Americans, regardless of gender,” said the researchers, who studied non-Hispanic Black, non-Hispanic White, Hispanic, and Asian American groups.

More analysis is needed to explain why less-educated Asian-Americans were hit so hard, the researchers said. One possible explanation is anti-Asian sentiment rising after politicians blamed China for the COVID-19 virus outbreak. Another possibility is that Asian Americans were more sensitive to the dangers of COVID-19 and voluntarily dropped out of the workforce, or that businesses catering to Asian Americans suffered more because their customers curtailed shopping.