Fewer factory jobs in western New York factor in outsize employment loss for Black residents

The coronavirus pandemic risks widening the financial gap in Buffalo, N.Y., between white and Black workers, who entered this years economic downturn with less financial security and are disproportionately employed in sectors more vulnerable to layoffs and exposure to Covid-19.
Over the last half-century, Black people in Buffalo were more likely to trade relatively stable manufacturing jobs for lower-wage work in the service sector, live in poorer neighborhoods and face higher levels of unemployment, according to researchers and census data. Conversely, white residents, on average in recent decades, were more likely to build wealth through homeownership, hold a college degree and earn a higher income.
Like other formerly manufacturing-heavy cities, Buffalo changed during the second half of the last century, as factory jobs dried up and the overall population declined. With a racial income gap and Black population that are similar to the national average, the Buffalo metro area offers an example of how persistent and longstanding disparities caused Black Americans to experience some of the worst effects of the pandemic and related economic recession.
Across the Buffalo region, about 12% of the 1.1 million residents are Black, matching the national average. Census data show the median household income for Black residents in the Buffalo area was about $33,000 in 2018, compared with $62,000 for white residents, limiting Black families ability to save.
The median household income for Black households across the U.S. was about $42,000, compared with roughly $68,000 for white households.