The economic impact of coronavirus is hitting Black communities disproportionately hard.

The Black unemployment rate was 16.7% in April, compared with 14.2% for white workers. Expect those numbers to get worse on Friday morning, when the Department of Labor will release its data for May. Overall, the jobless rate is expected to hit a new high ― perhaps touching 20%, according to some estimates. For Black workers, the latest figures will almost assuredly be higher.

Of course, a lot of Americans are out of work now. The crucial difference for Black Americans is their safety net ― or lack thereof. At every level, Black Americans have less of a cushion to fall back on during a time of economic stress.

“Institutional racism and historical discrimination have meant that Black workers have fared worse in the labor market, even in good times,” said Elise Gould, a senior economist at the progressive Economic Policy Institute who co-authored a report this week looking at the devastating toll COVID-19 has taken on Black workers.

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