The United States entered 2020 with historic levels of income inequality. Health impacts and economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic have accelerated that gulf, with depression-level unemployment rates, a looming eviction and mortgage crisis and food insecurity having a disproportionate impact on women and Black and Latino communities.
We share important news about inequality issues in each edition of Watchdog. This week, we look back at some of the most significant journalism on inequality from 2020:
- From The 19th, “America’s first female recession:” In three months of a pandemic, women lost a decade’s worth of economic advancement.
- From the Tampa Bay Times, a Florida sheriff uses grades and abuse histories to label schoolchildren as potential criminals.
- From ProPublica, the Black American amputation epidemic; a look inside the lives of immigrant teens working dangerous night shifts in suburban factories; and when falling behind on rent leads to jail time.
- From the New York Times, how decades of racist housing policy left neighborhoods sweltering.
- From the Connecticut Mirror, “Separated by Design:” How wealthy towns keep people with housing vouchers out.
- From The Marshall Project, “Superpredator:” The media myth that defined a generation of Black youth.
- From Reuters, why 4,998 died in U.S. jails without getting their day in court.
- From the Washington Post, “Shingle Mountain:” How a pile of toxic pollution was dumped in a community of color.
- From USA Today, “An unbelievable chain of oppression:” America’s history of racism was a preexisting condition for COVID-19.
- From Boston Review, how a popular medical device encodes racial bias.
- From Mississippi Today, Shalondra Rollins was taking care of her health and climbing out of poverty. Why did she die of COVID-19?
Public Integrity’s inequality reporting
In 2020, some of Public Integrity’s most significant investigative work on America’s inequality crisis included:
- The Heist, a podcast springing from more than two years of reporting on how the Trump administration’s signature tax law transferred billions of dollars in wealth from the middle class to a handful of billionaires and large corporations.
- Barriers to the Ballot Box, a comprehensive look at voter disenfranchisement in the 2020 election.
- Reporting on disparities in COVID-19’s impact on health, including a look at how state rationing policies would prevent the disabled from accessing ventilator treatment if there’s a shortage.
- Reporting on the economic fallout from the pandemic and the federal government’s response, including a look at the country’s worsening eviction crisis, and how the PPP loan program has favored well-connected larger businesses over the under-served, people of color-owned employers who were supposed to be prioritized.
- A definitive look at the extent to which immigrants produce and process the nation’s food supply, and how they’ve been left out of COVID-19 protections and aid.
Read more in Inside Public Integrity
The question remains how history will record the events that resulted in mayhem at the U.S. Capitol.