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Astoria was named the ‘coolest neighborhood in the world’ just two years ago – but a one-of-a-kind survey of New York’s working-class neighborhood released Thursday, June 3 found that many still suffer from unemployment, anxiety and other impacts of COVID-19, even as vaccination rates increase and restrictions are lifted.
The report, from the New School’s Center for New York City Affairs and the Consortium for Worker Education, interviewed more than 700 workers in Astoria and shows the depth and breadth of the challenges the city faces as it emerges from the pandemic. .
By focusing the survey on a neighborhood and partnering with trusted community organizations on outreach, the researchers were able to include vulnerable New Yorkers who are often missed in city-wide surveys. Astoria was chosen as a representative middle-income neighborhood with a diverse population.
“By bringing together the economic results with insight into mental health needs, new care responsibilities and the uncertainty about the employment landscape, this survey provides a unique multidimensional picture of the challenges workers face then. as New York emerges from the pandemic, ”LK report author told Moé. “Only by meeting these related economic and social needs can the city reopen and rebuild in a way that allows all New Yorkers to recover.”
Workers of color have been hit hardest by unemployment, according to the survey.
Black workers reported the highest dislocation rates at 39%, followed by Latinx workers at 34%, white workers at 25%, and Asian and other races and ethnicities at 18%.
A third of Astoria workers surveyed were made redundant during the pandemic and only 38% returned to work full or part time. Two-thirds of all respondents lost income, and three-quarters of household workers earning $ 50,000 or less per year suffered negative economic impacts.
“It is clear that the free market and existing government programs are not enough for workers to recover from this unprecedented economic calamity,” said George Miranda, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Consortium for Worker Education. “Elected leaders at municipal, state and federal levels must ensure that small businesses have the funds to rehire their workforce and that workers have access to training and support to re-enter an economy that has changed since their dismissal last year. “
The survey reveals that New Yorkers are uncertain about their professional future.
Only 42 percent of dislocated workers in Astoria believe they will be able to return to the same employer after the pandemic, while 20 percent believe they will have to change occupations.
“This close examination of the impacts of the pandemic in Astoria reinforces what we suspect to be happening citywide – hundreds of thousands of workers will not return to their previous jobs and the city must mount an unprecedented response.” said the director of the Center for New York City Affairs. economic and fiscal policies, said James Parrott. “Unless the city begins to mobilize a massive worker redeployment effort very soon, residents of black and brown towns will be doomed to double-digit unemployment rates over the next several years. “
Working New Yorkers face a myriad of challenges, they report in the survey, including high rates of anxiety, a lack of Internet access sufficient for distance education, and hunger. The report’s findings make it clear that the economic and social recovery will not reach the city’s most vulnerable workers without government intervention.
The Center for New York City Affairs and the Consortium for Worker Education recommended that the city create a massive wage subsidy program to enable small businesses to rehire employees as well as increase investment in workforce development programs. -work to support workers who need to acquire new skills to seek employment. in the post-COVID economy.
“We were able to leverage the Consortium for Worker Education network of community organizations and unions to reach a representative sample of workers in Astoria,” said Joe McDermott, executive director of the Consortium for Worker Education. “These are the institutions that made New Yorkers vulnerable during the pandemic and these are the institutions that will ensure the success of these workers after the pandemic. We need to make sure they have the resources to serve their communities.