Hispanic Americans On The Front Lines Of COVID-19

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Above photo:  From Shutterstock and Washington University of St. Louis.

As promised, we are updating our Immigrants and COVID-19 Portal every week with the latest data showing how workforce needs are changing and how immigrants and Americans of all kinds are critical to the fight, response, and recovery that we face in the coming months.

Here’s what we found this week:

As the country continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, Hispanic Americans are playing an important role on the front lines in healthcare, food supply, education, and biomedical industries.

Healthcare: There are 2.2 million Hispanic healthcare workers (or 13.0% of the total workforce) nationwide, almost one-third of which are immigrants. The Hispanic workforce is especially concentrated in a select few fields within the healthcare sector.

  • There are more than 390,000 Hispanic American health aides, including more than 180,000 immigrants, who represent 17.1% of the health aide workforce.
  • There are almost 328,000 Hispanic American nurses, including nearly 83,000 immigrants, representing 8.4% of all nurses in the United States.
  • There are also almost 57,000 Hispanic American physicians and surgeons in the United States, including more than 27,000 Hispanic immigrants.
  • New Mexico, Texas, California, Arizona, and Florida have the highest concentration of Hispanic healthcare workers — more than 25% in each state.

U.S. Food Supply: Hispanic Americans are even more prominent in another essential sector of the U.S economy: the food supply chain. From farm, to factory, to table more than 1 in 4 workers in the U.S. food supply chain are Hispanic. Overall, there are more than 4.5 million Hispanic workers in these industries, including 2.4 million immigrants.

  • In agriculture, 1 in 3 workers is Hispanic. Overall, there are more than 652,000 Hispanic workers in agriculture, and the vast majority of them—nearly 500,000—are foreign-born.
  • Hispanic workers also account for 1 in 4 workers in food manufacturing industries, food wholesale businesses, and food service establishments.

Education: There are over 2 million Hispanic workers in the U.S. education sector, including more than 720,000 immigrants.

  • The majority of Hispanic workers in education are concentrated in K-12 education, with more than 1.2 million nationwide.
  • More than 320,000 Hispanic workers work in child care services, representing more than 1 in 5 workers in this sector.
  • 424,000 Hispanic American workers work at colleges and universities, including almost 132,000 Hispanic immigrants.

Biomedical Industries: Hispanic workers are also on the front lines of finding a cure for coronavirus and helping to shore up America’s supply of medicines and medical supplies. Hispanic Americans are well represented in all biomedical fields, overall representing more than 10% of workers in all three fields we examined.

  • 57,000 Hispanic workers make up 10.6% of the workforce in pharmaceutical and medical manufacturing.
  • 85,000 Hispanic workers make up 13.6% of the workforce in medical equipment and supplies manufacturing.
  • 125,000 Hispanic workers make up 13.7% of the workforce in pharmacies and drug stores.

Upcoming research will include a more detailed look at refugees in the United States and how many are fighting on the frontlines of the COVID-19 outbreak and working as essential workers in other industries.

Jeremy Robbins is the Executive Director of New American Economy.