This week, unemployment claims soared as state and federal officials restricted public gatherings and shuttered stores to prevent the spread of the COVID-19. Using wage data from the U.S. Department of Labor and working conditions surveys from O*NET, we analyzed those who are most vulnerable. First, we looked at the bottom quarter of earners — people in jobs that pay less than $35,000 a year. Next, we narrowed that list to people who work at an arm’s length or less from others during their regular shifts, according to workforce survey data. This group, nearly 24 million people — or about 15 percent of the American workforce — is at the highest risk of suffering injury from the COVID-19 pandemic. Among them are bartenders, paramedics, home health aides, janitors, drivers and more.
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