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Charts of the Week: Coronavirus’s impacts on learning, employment, and deaths of Black Americans

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In this week’s edition of Charts of the Week, a look at some of the impacts that the coronavirus pandemic is having on various policy areas, including education, jobs, and racial inequality. Learn more from Brookings scholars about the global response to coronavirus (COVID-19).

Learning inequality during COVID-19
Figure 2. Share of countries responding to school closures with different forms of remote learning, by region

Worldwide nearly 190 countries have closed schools, affected more than nine in 10 learners. Emiliana Vegas notes that although “a majority of governments are making substantial efforts to ensure continuing education opportunities, their capacity for quality learning—especially for the most disadvantaged populations—varies enormously.” Vegas analyzes the variability in education systems’ responses around the world, concluding that the “learning gap between rich and poor will likely grow during the pandemic, not just between high- and low-income countries, but also between high- and low-income regions and communities within countries.”

Unemployment impacts of COVID-19

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Stephanie Aaronson and Francisca Alba note that “efforts to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus—particularly the closure of nonessential businesses—are having an unprecedented impact on the U.S. economy.” They look back to unemployment rate changes in metropolitan areas after the 2007-08 Great Recession compared to 2018 figures to understand how metro areas react and adjust to economic shocks. Aaronson and Alba conclude that “Before the pandemic reached our shores, metropolitan areas had distinct capacities to respond based on their structural differences. The impact of the virus will vary across metropolitan areas depending on their exposure and industrial mix.”

Mapping racial inequity amid COVID-19 underscores policy discriminations against Black Americans

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“Black communities in the U.S. are experiencing some of the highest fatality rates from COVID-19,” above their share of local populations, write Andre Perry, David Harshbarger, and Carl Romer. In the nation’s capital, for example, Black people make up 46% of the population, but 62.5% of the COVID-19 fatalities. In Louisiana, where the population is about 33% Black, 70% of COVID-19 fatalities are Black. The authors explain that areas like New Orleans have a high “equity risk level” determined by high rates of poverty, inequitable health outcomes, and multigenerational family cohabitation—all conditions that existed prior to the pandemic. They conclude that “By choosing to neglect Black communities during good times, we are forced to confront these existential problems during worse times.”

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