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As Crucial Unemployment Benefits Run Out, Educational Equity Becomes Even More Important

The federal unemployment benefits set up during the pandemic expired on Labor Day, highlighting just how much the pandemic recovery is hardest on those who are already vulnerable.

According to the California Budget and Policy Center, around two million Californians will lose their employment benefits entirely, and another 500,000 will have their benefits cut by $300 a week. This comes as California’s unemployment rate has hovered around 10% for the past six months. In Los Angeles, for example, an average worker who loses a full time minimum wage job could not afford rent with unemployment insurance

Those risks are not falling evenly across the population. Unequal job growth means that unemployment among Black Californians is now twice as high as it is among white Californians. Cuts to unemployment thus fall disproportionately on traditionally marginalized populations and communities. Over 60% of Black households lost wealth in 2020, and “Black workers are also more likely than white workers to be out of work at every level of education,” The Budget and Policy Center notes. 

This basic pattern holds for most every marginalized group.

There’s no question that these populations need support. Educational equity — offering free career education that fits the needs of marginalized populations — is not an approach that will solve the problem next month, but it can be an effective tool for those who seek a better life for themselves and their families. Educational equity is one of many approaches needed to achieve economic fairness and help marginalized populations access better career opportunities for years to come.