The coronavirus outbreak has caused a massive global economic and health shock, which has exacerbated existing social inequalities. Workers in the service sector, many of whom were already in an economically precarious position before the pandemic when the economy was booming, were among the hardest hit. Many of these workers experienced layoffs or furloughs, while others, particularly in grocery, pharmacy, and delivery sectors, were deemed essential workers. These essential workers are not able to work from home and shelter in place, but rather continue to report for work and risk exposure to coronavirus throughout the pandemic. Workers of color were disproportionately affected by layoffs, and are also at heightened risk of serious complications or death from coronavirus.
Schneider, Daniel, Kristen Harknett. "Essential Changes Needed for Essential Workers: Job Quality for California's Service Sectors." Shift Project/Irvine Foundation Research Brief, 2020.