UCLA Labor Center

Reimagined Recovery: Black Workers, the Public Sector, and COVID-19


2020 / Deja Thomas, Lola Smallwood-Cuevas, Saba Waheed

A new report from the Center for the Advancement of Racial Equity at the UCLA Labor Center, a unit of the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, offers a blueprint for COVID-19 recovery and reinvestment in the public sector to promote economic opportunities for Black workers. Through the most recent government data and relevant literature Reimagined Recovery: Black Workers, the Public Sector, and COVID-19 speaks to the demands and the causes of local uprisings, with concrete recommendations for recovery in Los Angeles County.

Among other findings, the report notes:

  • 1 in 5 Black workers work in the public sector
  • Nearly ⅔ of Black public sector workers are Black women
  • Black public sector workers earn 46% more than Black private sector workers and live in households with total incomes that are 22% higher than their private sector counterparts.
  • 44% of Black public sector workers own their homes as opposed to 28% of Black private sector workers contributing to greater economic stability of Black public sector workers

The report offers a set of recommendations that provide state, county, and local governments guidelines for protecting and expanding public sector jobs that can uplift communities through workforce development training and pipelines, specifically targeting Black communities.

  1. Applying a racial equity lens to all forthcoming budget decisions
  2. Prioritize hiring and retention programs in the public sector
  3. Intentionally target Covid-19 response resources to Black working-class families
  4. Provide Black workers with adequate safety and safety net tools
  5. Protect the health of Black workers, Black families, and Black communities.