Published August 17, 2021
Congratulations to Assistant Professor Rodriguez and colleague on the publication of their article, "There and Back Again: A Commentary on Social Welfare Policy in the Wake of 2020" in the Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research.
Romich, J., & Rodriguez, M. (2021). Social welfare policy questions of 2020 and beyond. Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research.
Two catastrophes shaped economic and social life in 2020. The quick-moving COVID-19 pandemic severely wounded economies and social institutions. In the United States, workplace shutdowns disrupted earnings for many workers as unemployment quadrupled over 2 months, with the official unemployment rate rising from 3.5% in February 2020 to 14.7% in April 2020 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2020). At the same time, police killings of Black Americans brought public outrage and widespread awareness of America’s enduring racism. This second catastrophe—hundreds of years in the making—has held back our collective well-being, with harms falling most heavily on Black and Indigenous communities (McGhee, 2019).
In this commentary, we draw on social welfare scholarship to offer thoughts on the current moment, focusing on the economic recession that began in February 2020. How vulnerable were Americans to the pandemic’s economic effects? What policy steps improved, failed to improve, or worsened the situation? And—most crucially—how should we move forward?