The coronavirus pandemic is wreaking economic havoc on many Americans due to the unprecedented job loss, school closures, and untold economic and social consequences of the disease. These problems will hit those who are already suffering the hardest. 

We at the Center for Applied Public Research launched this Economic Response and Recovery series to begin tracking the economic effects of COVID-19 and the policies responding to that impact. Our research, presented in interactive visuals using the ESRI Story maps tool, has three goals: establishing a baseline understanding of need in the US; identifying initial policies intended to help those who are struggling during the pandemic; and demonstrating how public data can be used during this crisis.

We have seen already that vulnerable populations – racial and ethnic minorities, institutionalized persons and other socially or economically disadvantaged groups – face heightened risks during the pandemic, not just from the illness itself but from the economic fallout. People of color and people employed in low-wage jobs are less likely to be able to work from home, and are therefore more at risk of economic instability. Because most Americans do not have savings, a stable income is often required to achieve the necessities of safe and reliable housing, healthy food and healthcare. Federal and local leaders are increasingly faced with the task of helping Americans without resources to weather this economic storm. 

We also launched this series to demonstrate the kind of visualizations and analysis that can be done with public data. We created these story maps with a free version of Tableau and an institutional subscription to ESRI – if your city government has an ESRI subscription, you should have access to the ESRI story maps tool. Most of our data sources are publicly available.  

Collecting data and displaying it in this way is just the beginning. Local leaders should use this kind of baseline data to make decisions like deploying resources in high-need areas or planning policy interventions. As society at large grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, we hope local officials will use the information in this series to ensure they are not leaving their most at-risk residents behind.  

Food insecurity


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