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BBC’s Newsday interviewed Dr. Desi Rodriguez-Lonebear, UCLA Associate Professor of Sociology and American Indian Studies and a Northern Cheyenne tribal citizen.  She discusses how COVID-19 has hit Native American reservations like hers. “Every day there are funerals. We’ve lost so many people that if you actually look at the proportion of people we have lost to Covid in our community it would equal about 1.3 million Americans.”  To listen to the full interview, click HERE.

By Sophia L. Ángeles, Graduate Student Researcher; Janna Shadduck-Hernández, Project Director, UCLA Labor Center; and Saba Waheed, Research Director, UCLA Labor Center

This past June, the UCLA Labor Center, in collaboration with the Los Angeles Community College District Dolores Huerta Labor Institute and California State University, Long Beach, published two studies examining workers and learners—college students who also work—and their unique educational and work experiences. We employed a methodology that was student-driven, engaging more than 450 undergraduate students to collect 869 surveys and conduct 75 interviews with UCLA, California Community College, and California State University workers and learners across Los Angeles County. Our hope is that these findings will provide information for colleges, employers, and policymakers to improve conditions for workers and learners.

Two-thirds of workers and learners work every single term of their undergraduate careers—the new normal for many students pursuing higher education. A majority work in low-wage jobs in the service industry. Forced to work as many hours as possible to make ends meet, two-thirds miss at least one educational opportunity because of work duties. Juggling work and school leads many to forgo internship and work-study opportunities in their fields of study that could improve opportunities in their future careers. Their situation is so stressful and overwhelming that 40% of workers and learners have considered withdrawing from school.

Graphic: Eunice Ho

Iris López, a recent UCLA Labor Studies graduate, explains the predicaments workers and learners face in their struggle to attend school and keep up with living expenses:

“My biggest concern has always been my ability to finance my education. My mother is a single parent who works in the fields. I feel guilty asking for help because I know she is struggling herself. Education should not cost us our ability to eat or cause concern over how we’re going to pay the next few units.”

 

Graphic: Eunice Ho

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated conditions for workers and learners, as half were laid off, terminated, or furloughed in April and May. As schools moved to minimize the spread of COVID-19, one quarter of workers and learners were forced to make housing changes, such as moving back in with family or vacating student housing. The housing situation has further impacted learners who must attend classes remotely while managing home responsibilities, like caring for younger siblings or family members who have fallen ill.

Graphic: Eunice Ho

What can be done?

Current trends point to increasing tuition and living expenses for college students, making it likely that more will have to work to offset those financial burdens.

Addressing the needs of workers and learners requires investing in California’s education system to achieve the following:

  • Support learners as workers by ensuring a living wage, accommodating work schedules, and supporting students’ workplace organizing efforts.
  • Strengthen career and educational pathways by making career resources more accessible, supporting paid internships that advance career goals, and increasing opportunities for networking and mentorship.
  • Support workers as learners by making college affordable or free and expanding work-study opportunities.
  • Provide holistic support by increasing access to mental health services and addressing food and housing insecurity.

 

Report: Unseen Costs: The Experiences of Workers and Learners in Los Angeles County (click to download)

Brief: A Survey of Los Angeles Workers and Learners During COVID-19 (click to download)

 

Sophia L. Ángeles is a graduate student researcher with the UCLA Labor Center’s Worker and Learner project and a UCLA PhD candidate. Her research focuses on the intersection of immigration and language to examine newcomer youths’ educational experiences and their K–16 trajectories.

Janna Shadduck-Hernández, Ed.D., is a project director at the UCLA Labor Center and teaches for UCLA Labor Studies and the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. Her research and teaching focus on developing culturally relevant, participatory educational models with first- and second-generation university students, community members, and youth, with a focus on the organizing efforts of low-wage workers to combat labor and workplace violations.

Saba Waheed is research director at the UCLA Labor Center. She has over fifteen years of research experience developing projects with strong community participation. With her team at the Labor Center, she coordinated the first ever study of domestic work employers, launched a study of young people in the service economy, and conducted research on the taxi, garment, nail salon, construction, and restaurant industries.

Earlier this month, the UCLA California Policy Lab released their sixth policy brief which focuses on close to real-time information on daily initial unemployment insurance (UI) claims. The latest policy brief, “An Analysis of Unemployment Insurance Claims in California During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” focuses on the increasing number of workers who are returning to work and seeing their unemployment claims either reduced or denied altogether as a result.

Key Research Findings:

1. More than Half of Recent Unemployment Claims are from Californians who are RE-Opening their Claims.

2. The Number and share of additional claimants varies significantly by industry.

3. Nearly one-third of California workers have filed for UI benefits since the start of the COVID-19 crisis in mid-March.

4. For the week ending July 11th, 3.28 million claimants, or about 17% of the CA labor force, were paid unemployment insurance benefits.

5. The share of paid UI claimants receiving partial benefits (due to reporting some work earnings) has risen substantially since early May.

6. As illustrated in our Data Point, without the $600 per week additional benefits from FPUC, half of all individuals received payments below the Federal Poverty Level.

7. In the week ending July 25th, only 63% of new initial claimants reported they expect to be recalled. The gap in recall expectations between Black claimants and others’ which was seen earlier in the crisis appears to have narrowed in recent weeks.

To read the press release, click HERE.

To read the full report, click HERE.

grandriver/Getty Images

“Indigenous Peoples across the country continue to be disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus. As of May 18, 2020, the Navajo Nation has the highest Covid-19 case rates surpassing New York, the pandemic’s epicenter in the United States. As the virus spreads, Indigenous Peoples and nations in the United States face stark disparities in accessing resources to protect their communities—not the least of which relate to data.”

In this recent Items article, Dr. Randall Akee, UCLA Associate Professor of Public Policy and American Indian Studies, and Dr. Desi Rodriguez-Lonebear, UCLA Assistant Professor in Sociology and American Indian Studies, along with Dr. Stephanie Russo Carroll, Annita Lucchesi, and Dr. Jennifer Rai Richards come to the conclusion that Indigenous communities need more data that advance Indigenous rights and interests, and they need action to hold the federal government accountable to its treaty obligations and advance systemic change that dismantles racism.

To read the complete article titled, “Indigenous Data in the Covid-19 Pandemic: Straddling Erasure, Terrorism, and Sovereignty,” click HERE.

 

LA Social Science spoke with Dr. Tomer Begaz, Professor of Emergency Medicine at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine and Director of Undergraduate Medical Education at UCLA-Olive View Medical Center, about his recent “Golden Apple” teaching award, how to keep safe from COVID-19 as our state starts to reopen, and when individuals should visit the Emergency Department.

Interview Chapters:

0:00 – Intro

01:00 – About being a Golden Apple Award winner

02:28 – An album or book that’s gotten you through the pandemic?

05:11 – Why did you choose to work at LA County UCLA Olive View Medical Center?

07:00 – Impact of Corona virus on different communities

10:08 – What should we be thinking about as we open up during the pandemic?

12:53 – When should I go into the emergency room?

17:41 – Alternative ways to see a doctor

18:15 – Closing

 

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The UCLA California Policy Lab has released their fourth policy brief focused on Unemployment Insurance (UI) claims in California since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-March. The latest policy brief, “An Analysis of Unemployment Insurance Claims in California During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” focuses on the increasing number of workers who are returning to work and seeing their unemployment claims either reduced or denied altogether as a result.  Although returning to work may signal good news for the economy, the brief highlights how this can create some challenging decisions for workers, especially if they’re being called back on a reduced schedule with reduced earnings that result in them losing all or part of their UI benefits in addition to childcare and health safety issues.

To read the press release, click HERE.

To read the full report, click HERE.

Key Research Findings

1. In a sign of improving economic conditions, the fraction of UI beneficiaries either not receiving their first benefit payment because their earnings were too high or receiving partial UI benefits increased in the first half of May. Only workers earning less than three quarters of their prior weekly wages qualify for partial UI and FPUC (and workers earning above that are denied UI benefits entirely for that week), creating a difficult decision for workers in an uncertain labor market.

2. In the weeks preceding May 16th, the period preceding last week’s Jobs Report, a total of 0.46% of the California labor force in April either received partial UI or were denied benefits because of excess earnings (compared to a one and a half decline in the national unemployment rate). Hence, a substantial fraction of individuals that recently returned to work are working reduced hours and may still be attached to the Unemployment Insurance system.

3. As layoffs become more evenly distributed across industries, the share of UI claims by more educated workers have been gradually increasing. Among higher educated workers that claimed benefits recently, Generation Z (age 16-23), women, and those working in Health Care and Social Assistance were most affected.

4. During the past four weeks, about 70% of initial UI claimants reported that they expected to be recalled. However, differences in recall expectations are growing, with 62% of Black workers who filed claims from May 17th to May 30th saying they expect to be recalled vs. 72% of White, 73% of Hispanic, and 74% of Asian workers.

5. The cumulative impact of the crisis is still substantially greater for less advantaged workers – over 1 in 4 women (as opposed to 1 in 5 men), more than 1 in 3 members of Generation Z, and more than 1 in 2 workers with a high school degree have filed for benefits.

6. As the economy slowly re-opens, programs such as Work Sharing, which allow working claimants to keep a share of their UI benefits and maintain eligibility for the $600 FPUC payment, would help strengthen the financial outlook for workers if they’re working at reduced time and earnings.


To read LA Social Science’s previous coverage of the CPL’s briefs in this series, click HERE.

Prayagraj: Migrants arrive to board Shramik special train to travel to native places, during the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown, at Prayagraj Railway Station, Thursday, May 28, 2020. (PTI Photo)(PTI28-05-2020_000152B)

India’s largest media network, ABP Live, recently published UCLA Professor of History and Asian American Studies Dr. Vinay Lal‘s latest essay, “‘Be Still And Do Not Move’: The COVID-19 Migrant and the Ministry of the Soul,” about the global pandemic. Dr. Lal takes a historic look at the imposed countrywide “lockdown” that the government of India instituted more than two months ago. Dr. Lal provides some historical examples to expose the draconian move by Prime Minister Modi. To read the complete essay, click HERE.

Also, check out his informative blog, “Lal Salaam: A Blog by Vinay Lal,” “a series of articles on the implications of the coronavirus for our times, for human history, and for the fate of the earth.” You may read his earlier essays on LA Social Science.

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UCLA Law Professor, NYTimes op-ed author, and Latino Policy & Politics Initiative (LPPI) Faculty Expert Jennifer Chacón gives a comprehensive overview of COVID-19 and current immigration laws and policies. She describes the negative effects an immigration ban can have on the economy and public health. She also explains that the current administration uses COVID-19 to further implement anti-immigrant policies. Read The New York Times op-ed “No Mr. President Your Immigration Powers Are Not Unlimited” by Jennifer Chacón and Erwin Chemerinsky HERE.

Interview Chapters:

0:53 – Effects of immigration freeze

7:30 – Immigration ban effects on the economy/jobs

9:43 – Effect on asylum process and public health

12:10 – Final thoughts, legal filings, upcoming developments, DACA

 

Subscribe to LA Social Science and be the first to learn more insight and knowledge from UCLA social science experts in upcoming video/audio sessions and posts about current issues.

The California Policy Lab (CPL), in partnership with the Labor Market Information Division of the California Employment Development Department, has been analyzing daily initial Unemployment Insurance claims during this pandemic. The COVID-19 crisis has led to historically unprecedented increases in claims filed in California since the start of the crisis in mid-March. The findings provide an in-depth and near real-time look at how the COVID-19 crisis is impacting various industries, regions, counties, and types of workers throughout California.

A Key Finding:  The added $600 per week from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program has played a substantial role in preventing near-poverty income levels among UI claimants.

For more key findings, charts, and information about this report, click HERE.

Download the full policy brief HERE.

Check out recent coverage on this research from The Sacramento Bee HERE.

Check out previous posts about CPL research HERE.

On May 19, 2020, UCLA’s Latino Policy and Politics Initiative, the UCLA Center for Neighborhood Knowledge, and Ong and Associates (an economic and policy analysis consulting firm) issued the brief, “Struggling to Stay Home: How COVID-19 Shelter in Place Policies Affect Los Angeles County’s Black and Latino Neighborhoods.” It aims to support policies and programs that address inequities facing those in neighborhoods where compliance with shelter-in-place is difficult and to provide guidance for public officials as California rebuilds from the COVID-19 pandemic. The study finds that more than 2 in 5 Blacks and Latinos in Los Angeles County face high burdens from the county’s shelter-in-place rules. These communities are seen to be densely populated with restricted access to open spaces and limited access to food.

The research brief provides five core recommendations for Los Angeles city officials and other jurisdictions with burdened populations:

  1. Expand COVID-19 testing with a focus on neighborhoods who face the highest risk sheltering in place.
  2. Provide transportation assistance and add personal care resources like hand sanitizer at bus stops.
  3. Expand paid leave options for low-wage workers or employees in the service sector to discourage people from going to work when they feel sick.
  4. Increase food assistance.
  5. Expand high-speed internet access and social safety net to include more relief, including Medi-Cal, childcare and early childhood education programs, by expanding eligibility and elongating the benefit period.

This brief is the third in a series of research papers examining the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on neighborhoods in L.A. County. Previous research papers found that Asian-American and Latino neighborhoods in Los Angeles County were most vulnerable due to the pandemic’s impact on the retail and service sectors, and Latino neighborhoods were less likely to receive the individual rebate under the CARES Act.

Download the full report HERE.

LPPI Media Contact:

Eliza Moreno

E: lppipress@luskin.ucla.edu

P: 310-487-9815