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Children of the Working Poor Hit Hard by Coronavirus Closings; Advocacy Group Urges ‘Robust’ 2020 Census Count

March 16, 2020

By Joe Maniscalco

The coronavirus outbreak has forced the closure of bars, restaurants and other service-related business – something low-wage earners and their families can afford without help.

New York, NY -This week’s mandatory closure of bars, restaurants, movie theaters and other service sector workplaces throughout the city due to the coronavirus outbreak — spell particular trouble for the children of the working poor. 

More than 200,000 New York City kids under the age of five live in low-income households, according to the latest edition of the Citizens’ Committee for Children’s [CCC] “Keeping Track of New York City Children” report.

One in three New York City kids, moreover, live in households where neither the parent or guardian worked full-time over the previous calendar year. 

“The households affected by these closures are already living pay check to pay check,” Citizens’ Committee for Children [CCC] Executive Director Jennifer March warned on Monday.

Unemployment figures may have rebounded since 2008’s recession — but they hardly give an accurate portrayal of what low-income people have been experiencing. 

As “Keeping Track of New York City Children 2020” notes, NYC’s workforce has changed substantially since 2009.

A decade ago, many more New Yorkers were working in good paying construction and manufacturing jobs. Today, many more people are trying to make ends meet in service sector jobs — the same kinds of jobs now being zapped by coronavirus.

Since 2009, the number of residents working in construction and manufacturing jobs fell 13-percent, while residents reporting jobs in hospitality, accommodation and restaurants grew 20-percent. 

Roughly 100,000 more New Yorkers reported working jobs in hospitality and similar services between 2009 and 2018, according to the CCC. 

The House’s coronavirus relief bill, meanwhile, is being widely lambasted for providing sick leave for just 20-percent of American workers. All of which, leaves the children of the working poor terribly vulnerable. 

Sure, New York City’s poverty rate may have returned to its pre-recession level — but one in four NYC children still experiences crushing poverty.

That’s why the CCC is pushing so hard to spread awareness about the 2020 Census and making sure New York City children are not undercounted. As many as 70,000 were reportedly left out of the 2010 Census. Without an accurate count, struggling New York City kids won’t get the services and resources they deserve. 

Despite the pressures of “social distancing” and “self-quarantines” during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, March is optimistic about getting a “robust” Census count during a time when so many people are “socially isolated.”

“Many of the conversations around emergency aid are really directly informed by the last census,” March said. “It’s incumbent upon us to have an accurate Census count.”

March 16, 2020

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