New Orleans Families Particularly Vulnerable to Economic Effects of COVID-19

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A new Household Pulse Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau shows that households with children were more likely to report a permanent loss of employment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to early results, 55 percent of U.S. families with at least one child under 18 reported at least one adult had lost employment income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In comparison, adults in households without children were more likely to say that their loss of employment was temporary.

Younger and low-income families have been hit particularly hard. Survey results show that 33.7 percent of adult respondents ages 25 to 39 reported having “no confidence” or only “slight confidence” that they could pay next month’s rent or mortgage on time. Half of the adults in households with incomes of less than $25,000/yr also reported having little-to-no confidence in their ability to pay rent on time, regardless of if they had children.

These stressful economic concerns have led to an increase in mental health issues. Adults in households with an income of less than $25,000 were far more likely to report that they felt worried, down, depressed, or hopeless during the past week. In addition, 36 percent of the adults in these households reported that they sometimes or often did not have enough to eat in the last week. Adults with children were more likely to report food insecurity than those without, however, 20.5 percent of adults ages 25 to 39 reported food insecurity regardless of whether they had children.

These statistics are of particular concern in New Orleans, where weekly unemployment claims have remained high, even as the state and city entered Phase Two. According to the Louisiana Workforce Commission, over 110,000 workers in the New Orleans metro area received benefits or filed initial claims in the week ending June 6. When ranked with other parishes across the state, Orleans and Jefferson parishes had the highest rate of total unemployment claims per 100 population.

Source: Louisiana Workforce Commission
Source: The Data Center

According to The Data Center, two out of every five of Louisiana’s Leisure and Hospitality Jobs (including Accommodation and Food Services and Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation) are in the New Orleans metro area. These industries have been hit particularly hard-hit by COVID-19 related layoffs and closures. In the New Orleans metro area, food services jobs declined 54 percent, jobs in arts, entertainment, and recreation declined 50 percent, accomodation jobs declined 29 percent, and retail trade jobs declined 18 percent.

To help combat food insecurity due to the COVID-19 pandemic in local families, Culture Aid NOLA in partnership the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic, 504 Healthnet, Trinity Loaves & Fishes, the Music & Culture Coalition of New Orleans, the New Orleans Culinary & Hospitality Institue, and New Olreans City Council Member Kristin G. Palmer offers free food distribution every Saturday beginning at 10:00 a.m. at Holy Angels, 3500 St. Claude Ave. This program is not needs-based, and no paperwork or identification is required to pick up food. In addition, families with children can visit any NORD playground listed below Monday-Friday from 4-6 pm to pick up free meals for children ages 18 and under.

Jenn Bentley is a freelance journalist based in New Orleans specializing in politics and social justice issues. In 2019, she was given the title of “Most Fearless” along with Big Easy Magazine by The Bayou Brief. Follow her on Twitter: @JennBentley_

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