Photo of a now hiring sign in a shopping mall

In our last series post A Labor Force in Flux, Changes in Employment by Industry in Forsyth County, we looked at how the COVID-19 pandemic had affected labor force participation and unemployment in Forsyth County and reported on recent changes in employment by industry.

This post digs deeper into the question of ‘who’ by exploring which groups in our community have been most impacted by recent economic shifts and have experienced the worst of the pandemic’s effects. The data in this post looks at the US as a whole; it was produced using the US Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey. What is the Pulse Survey? Why look at data at the national level?

The Pulse Survey tracks changes over time in areas like employment, health, housing, food sufficiency, and more. For this post, our research team looked at people who reported losing employment income in the past four weeks. Knowing the proportion of people in various ‘groups’ who reported a loss of employment (which often means lost income) is important to understand topics such as equity and discrimination among groups and it can help in identifying policies and interventions to meet the needs of these economically compromised groups.

Key findings from the analysis:

Specific groups have lost employment income more regularly than their counterparts:
  • people with less education;
  • people who earn lower incomes;
  • people with children;
  • Black and Hispanic/Latino people.
Lower income and Black and Hispanic/Latino residents are less likely than their counterparts to have access to wealth or savings, which potentially worsens the economic impact of unemployment for those groups (Lane 2020; Parker et al 2020). Parental job loss can also have negative long-term impacts on children. For example, job loss can have negative impacts on adolescents’ mental health and can increase income inequality in college attendance, especially for African-American students and students from low-income families (Ananat, et al 2017).
Nearly a third of people in some groups reported losing employment income in February, 2022, with peaks near 50% at the beginning of the pandemic:
  • people who earn less than $25,000 per year;
  • people with less than a high school education;
  • Hispanic/Latino people.

In general, Americans are currently experiencing less employment income loss than at the pandemic’s inception.

Some groups are more likely than others to have lost employment income.

Use the dropdown menu below to view data by category. The data represented is for the entire United States.

Data Notes

What does the statement, “Experienced loss of employment income in the last 4 weeks (for self or household member)” mean? If a member of my household (for example) or myself took the Household Pulse Survey during the April 28 – May 10, 2021 collection period, and someone in my household, including myself, lost employment in the four weeks prior to the date I chose to answer the survey, then I would mark ‘Yes’. Otherwise, I would mark ‘No’.

What is the Pulse Survey?

The light shading above and below the lines in the graph represent the margin of error at the 95% confidence level.

Data Geography

Pulse Survey data is offered at both the US and state level. State-level data provided for North Carolina was not used in this analysis as the margins of error exceeded Forsyth Futures’ internal standards.

Data Source

U.S. Census Bureau (2022). Household Pulse Survey Employment Tables: Table 1. Experienced Loss of Employment Income by Select Characteristics, Week 1-42. Retrieved from

Source: Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey — April, 2020 through February, 2022. Forsyth Futures, 2022

In our next series post, we will address the question of why we are witnessing such high rates of lost employment and income among certain groups.

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