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Jobs with increased exposure to COVID-19 often filled by minorities: study

Photo: adamkaz/iStockphoto

Washington — Certain job characteristics may lead Black and Hispanic workers to be “disproportionately employed in occupations with high COVID-19 exposure risks,” according to a recent study from NIOSH.

Researchers examined March and April 2020 data from the agency’s Current Population Survey and O*Net – a public occupational database. They found that Black workers were overrepresented in multiple job types with high exposure to infection and decreased ability to maintain physical distancing. These occupations included:

  • Occupational and physical therapy
  • Health care
  • Funeral services
  • Law enforcement
  • Food preparation and serving
  • Social work
  • Firefighting and prevention

Hispanic workers were overrepresented in jobs offering less ability to work from home, including:

  • Construction
  • Forest conservation and logging
  • Vehicle and mobile equipment specialties
  • Material moving
  • Building cleaning and pest control
  • Plastic, metal and woodwork
  • Food processing

“This knowledge can be useful in devising targeted prevention interventions in high-risk occupations, including educational programs, providing adequate PPE, training, working space and vaccination to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and its disproportionately high impact on certain minority ethnic and racial groups,” researcher and NIOSH economist Abay Asfaw writes.

The study was published online in the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities.

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