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The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has hit African Americans hard. The unemployment rate for black Americans is close to 17%, compared with 14.5% for whites. It is not easy for these Americans to obtain federal financial aid.
Since California’s home order came into effect in mid-March, Terrence Kahn has not been able to work in his Oakland barbershop. Even if his income dried up, he did not apply for federal help. He said: “I actually called the bank, but they said they no longer accept any applications. As a small business, we don’t know exactly what to do because there is no information available.”
Kahn is lucky because he has his own house and some savings, and his wife works in a grocery store. However, black Americans have been hit hard by the economic impact during the epidemic. In April, nearly 17% of blacks were unemployed, compared to 14% of whites.
A recent survey showed that compared with other groups, they are less likely to have extra deposits to cover three months' expenses. Caroline Johnson of the East Oakland Black Cultural District said that black companies that have nothing to do with banks find it difficult to apply for federal funding.
Caroline Johnson, Executive Director of the East Oakland Black Cultural District, said: “If you have nothing to do with the loan clerk and the loan clerk is not familiar with your spreadsheet, because they have seen it once a month ago, then the loan business procedures will be Slowly, and just a little bit of time is enough to make people miss the opportunity, because the funds may be used up by then. It can be said that one step is difficult to step by step."
Derek Johnson, the owner of the Oakland "Chicken and Muffin House" restaurant, received some federal assistance, but the money stayed in his bank account. He estimated that he would not be able to meet the fund’s requirements, that is, to hire 70% of his original staff within eight weeks. He said: "If I can't use the money, I wonder if I can keep it going."
He is worried about his employees, many of whom are on parole. Some people have found jobs, but not all.
He said: "The majority of the workers I hire from this group of people... As I said, without the Internet, there is no Internet access. Then how do they apply for unemployment? How do they even know that there is such a relief program What?"
For the hairdresser Kahn, this is simple. He said: "Thank God, I can last for a while. I just don't know how long it will take. Wait and see. I have been praying. Try to maintain a positive attitude."
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