Biden has received decent reviews so far for assembling an economic team that includes Black voices. If confirmed, Cecilia Rouse would be the first Black woman to head the Council of Economic Advisers and Wally Adeyemo, tapped to be the Treasury’s No. 2 official, would be the highest-ranking Black American in the department’s history.
Nonetheless, with the country gripped by the pandemic’s third wave, the economic team faces a real uphill battle to introduce economic policies that produce meaningful relief for Black people and Black-led businesses.
It has been well-documented that people of color are more likely to be hospitalized and die from COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black people in the U.S. are 3.7 times more likely to be hospitalized and 2.8 times more likely to die than white people.
While seemingly separate from the disparate economic hardships faced by Black businesses, the two are in fact linked, according to an August report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
The report found that “Black-owned firms are more likely to be located in COVID-19 hot spots, whereas white-owned firms are less likely to be in the most heavily affected areas.” Additionally, Black-owned businesses, the analysis found, tend to be “geographically concentrated” and correlate with “Black population density.”
“Given the high geographic concentration of firm activity and the Black population in general, business disruptions in these particular places can have outsized effects on African American well-being at large,” the report states.
Also noted in the study were the problems Black-owned businesses have had receiving loans from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that was established by Congress with the CARES Act in March to help small businesses stay afloat.
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