Department of Educational Psychology


Document Type


Date of this Version



Journal of Vocational Behavior 119 (2020) 103439


2020 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


International and national crises often highlight inequalities in the labor market that disproportionately affect individuals from marginalized backgrounds. The COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting changes in society due to social distancing measures, has showcased inequities in access to decent work and experiences of discrimination resulting in many of the vulnerable populations in the United States experiencing a much harsher impact on economic and work-related factors. The purpose of this essay is to describe how the COVID-19 pandemic may differentially affect workers of color, individuals from low-income backgrounds, and women in complex ways. First, this essay will discuss disproportionate representation of workers from low-income and racial/ethnic minority backgrounds in sectors most affected by COVID-19. Second, it will discuss the lack of decent work for low-income workers who perform “essential” tasks. Third, this essay will highlight economic and work-related implications of increased discrimination Asian Americans are experiencing in society. Finally, role conflict and stress for women who are managing additional unpaid work, including caretaking responsibilities, while needing to continue to engage in paid work will be examined. A research agenda will be set forth throughout the essay, calling for vocational psychologists to engage in research that fully examines how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting vulnerable communities.