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Economic Vulnerability of Households With Essential Workers

Educational Objective
To understand how the COVID pandemic revealed the economic vulnerabilities of essential workers households and how they can be addressed
1 Credit CME

The label of “essential worker” reflects society’s needs but does not mean that society has compensated those workers for additional risks incurred on the job during the current pandemic. When an essential worker contracts severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), they pose a risk to the other members of their household. These members may be elderly or lack health insurance, and the household may have limited resources to care for a sick family member.1,2 We assessed the proportion of essential workers in the US population and described the economic vulnerability of their households.

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Article Information

Corresponding Author: Amitabh Chandra, PhD, Harvard Kennedy School, 79 JFK St, Cambridge, MA 02138 (amitabh_chandra@hks.harvard.edu).

Accepted for Publication: June 10, 2020.

Published Online: June 18, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.11366

Author Contributions: Ms McCormack had full access to all of the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.

Concept and design: All authors.

Acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data: McCormack, Spitzer, Chandra.

Drafting of the manuscript: All authors.

Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: Avery, Spitzer, Chandra.

Statistical analysis: McCormack, Spitzer, Chandra.

Administrative, technical, or material support: Avery.

Supervision: Avery, Chandra.

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Ms McCormack reported a fellowship with the National Institute on Aging (NIA) during the conduct of the study. Dr Chandra reported serving on the Congressional Budget Office’s Panel of Health Advisors. No other disclosures were reported.

Funding/Support: This research was funded by NIA grant T32-AG000186.

Role of the Funder/Sponsor: The NIA had no role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript; and decision to submit the manuscript for publication.

References
1.
Blau  F , Koebe  J , Meyerhofer  P . Essential and frontline workers in the COVID-19 crisis. Econofact Report. April 30, 2020. Accessed May 16, 2020. https://econofact.org/essential-and-frontline-workers-in-the-covid-19-crisis
2.
COVID-19 and workers at risk: examining the long-term care workforce. Kaiser Family Foundation Issue Brief. April 23, 2020.
3.
American Community Survey Design and Methodology. Chapter 7: data collection and capture for housing units. January 2014. Accessed May 16, 2020. https://www2.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/methodology/design_and_methodology/acs_design_methodology_ch07_2014.pdf
4.
US Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency. Advisory memorandum on identification of essential critical infrastructure workers during COVID-19 response. April 17, 2020. https://www.cisa.gov/sites/default/files/publications/Version_3.0_CISA_Guidance_on_Essential_Critical_Infrastructure_Workers_1.pdf
5.
LMI Institute. SOC codes for CISA critical infrastructure workers. Rev 1. Accessed April 28, 2020. https://www.lmiontheweb.org/more-than-half-of-u-s-workers-in-critical-occupations-in-the-fight-against-covid-19
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