Ong Discusses Rising Asian American Unemployment

Research Professor Paul Ong was featured in on NPR’s Morning Edition discussing the disproportionate rise in unemployment among Asian Americans. The jobless rate of Asian Americans was lower than that of whites, Blacks or Latinos last year at 2.8%, but it rose above the rate of whites and Latinos to 15% in May. Ong explained that “people are avoiding [areas like Chinatown] because of this myth that somehow Asian Americans are tied in with the spread of coronavirus,” leading to an earlier and deeper drop in foot and vehicle traffic in Chinatown compared to the city’s other commercial neighborhoods. While immigrant communities can provide support and opportunities in ordinary times, Ong said that over-reliance on those networks can be a trap during a crisis like the pandemic. “Certainly that is untrue and unfair, but there’s no question that it gets reflected in the impact on the ethnic economy,” he said.

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