The Washington State Department of Labor has released new data on the occupations and industries most affected by coronavirus, and the news isn’t great for people who work in health care and agriculture. But hey, your health prospects are looking a bit better if you’re an accountant, teacher, or miner!
The new report is a collaboration between various state departments, and correlates positive test results with the patient’s industry. And it’s worth noting that the data is still somewhat preliminary — for example, fewer than half of the respondents provided employment information, which could mean that there’s a big hole in the available data or the unemployment rate among people who are getting tested is stunningly bad.
Still, of the thousands of people examined for the report, a pretty clear picture emerges: People in the healthcare field are at alarming risk, with 37% of the positive cases working in that industry. (It’s also possible that the number is so high because people in health care have more access to testing.) The other industry at highest risk is the weirdly broad category “Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting.”
In general, workers in essential jobs who couldn’t work from home appear to be bearing the brunt of the disease. White-collar industries like insurance and public administration have managed infection rates below the percent of people employed by that industry. Educators have particularly low rates of infection, which makes sense since the schools are all closed. And the entire mining, quarrying, and oil/gas industry has reported only three cases in the entire state.
Nationwide, only about 29% of Americans are able to work from home. What’s more, people of color and women are more likely to have essential jobs that have a higher risk of infection, like working in nursing care facilities or janitorial jobs.
The virus itself may not care about race or economic status, but it’s still deepening the disparities that already plagued this country.