New US Census survey shows highest COVID impact on Houston workforce

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) – New estimates from the US Census Bureau show that 22 percent of Houstonians are not working for COVID-related reasons. This could be because the person is already sick with COVID or is caring for someone with COVID, such as a child or the elderly.

Latest Household impulse survey From December 29, 2021 to January 10, 2022, approximately 8.7 million people nationwide reported not working. That’s the highest number ever reported since the US Census Bureau created the survey in April 2020. The survey aims to better understand how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted American life. It also corresponds to the largest spike in COVID-19 cases ever reported in Harris County.

When we narrowed down the data specifically to Houston, the US Census Bureau estimated that 2.4 million people in our area were not working during this time frame. Twenty-two percent of those said they were inactive for COVID-related reasons. This does not include people who are retired and those who do not want to work. The problem is as follows:

  • 7.9% of people who do not work (195,108) say they stay at home because they care for children who do not go to school or daycare
  • 2.79% of people who do not work (68,251) say they have to stay at home because they have to carry the elderly
  • 5% of non-working people (122,350) report concerns about catching or spreading COVID
  • 3.05% of non-working people (74,483) said they stayed home because they were laid off or tired from the COVID-19 pandemic
  • 2.21% of non-working people (54,002) said they had to stay home because their employer was temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • 2.97% of non-working people (72,493) said they had to stay home because their employer was out of business permanently due to the COVID-19 pandemic

“COVID is still causing a lot of trouble for people in the Houston area and around the country. It’s putting people out of work,” said Jonathan Fagg, data journalist for ABC Owned Television Station.

Amy Corron is the president and chief executive officer of Wesley Community Center, a nonprofit located just north of downtown that works to lift community members out of crisis and break the cycle of poverty. They employ about 55 people providing direct services including teachers, youth workers, case managers, coaches, trainers, etc. She said they had to temporarily close some services. service for the first time during a pandemic because of the impact of the Omicron variant.

“I have to say that for most of 2020 and 2021, we’ve been very fortunate that we haven’t had a lot of sick calls. Our staff is healthy and on site and we’re actually continuing to operate. I continue to work and help people. But recently with omicron, things changed and for the first time, we had to temporarily close some of our services,” said Corron.

She added, “Just yesterday, we had to close one of our daycare classrooms because a child and two adults, both vaccinated, tested positive. going to work or back to school Many of the people we serve, including our parents, live on paychecks, so losing a week or two of work is a big deal for them and can could push them over the edge.”

Comparing the number of people not working due to COVID with 14 other major cities across the US, Houston ranks second and Dallas leads with 25 percent. Other cities include New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington DC, Miami, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Phoenix, Boston, San Francisco, Riverside, Detroit and Seattle.

Statewide, the estimated percentage is similar with the nine million Texans surveyed reporting inactivity, and 20 percent of them explaining COVID-related reasons. Both our cities and states exceed the national average, which the survey estimated by 14 percent.

Fagg said there could be some hope on the horizon, if COVID continues its downtrend for the long term.

“I don’t want to be a pessimist. Sure, there are signs that in some places the omicron wave has passed. In other places, it is passing. But even you are going down. from the top, you’re still pretty high. Who knows what could happen next?” he said.

For stories across Houston’s diverse communities, follow Rosie Nguyen on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Dais Johnston

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