May 6, 2021

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Filipinos make up 4% of nurses, but 31.5% of US COVID-19 nurse deaths

2 min read

  • Nurses of Filipino descent comprise just 4% of the US workforce, but nearly a third of registered nurse deaths due to COVID-19, according to a new report from the National Nurses United union.
  • NNU estimates that 1,718 healthcare workers have died due to the disease and related complications, including 213 registered nurses. 
  • The largest non-white ethnic group to die of the disease was nurses of Filipino descent, who account for 31.5% of the workforce’s COVID-19 deaths.
  • The data sheds light on one of the ways Asian Americans have suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic. Pew Research Center estimated the unemployment rate for Asian American workers may have been 20.3% in May, on par with those for Black and Hispanic Americans.
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Nurses of Filipino descent comprise just 4% of the workforce, but nearly a third of registered nurse deaths due to COVID-19.

National Nurses United, the country’s largest nurse union, released a report Monday detailing COVID-19 deaths among nurses and other healthcare workers. NNU estimates that 1,718 healthcare workers have died due to the disease and related complications, including 213 registered nurses. 

Nurses of color made up more than half of the nurse deaths due to COVID-19, despite only making up 24.1% of the workforce.

The largest non-white ethnic group to die of the disease was Filipino nurses. Nurses of Filipino descent account for 31.5% of the workforce’s COVID-19 deaths.

About 4% of registered nurses in the US are of Filipino descent, per a Stat News estimate, but some hard-hit areas employ a larger share of this demographic. ProPublica reported that one of every four Filipinos in the the New York-New Jersey area works in healthcare, and they are four times more likely to be nurses. 

The data sheds light on one of the ways Asian Americans have suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Though Asian Americans tend to have higher incomes than other people of color on average, Pew Research Center estimated the unemployment rate for Asian American workers may have been 20.3% in May, on par with the rates for Black and Hispanic Americans.

A CBS analysis of the US Labor Department’s September employment report found the jobless rate for Asian Americans was 10.7% — higher than both that of white workers (7.3%) and workers overall (8.4%). 

And the non-profit Marshall Project found Asian Americans made up 6% of the population, but joined Black and Hispanic Americans as having 30% more deaths this year than last year, an indicator of the disease’s death rate. 

Though Black Americans suffered the worst economic and health fallout from the pandemic due to decades of anti-Black systemic racism, data suggests the pandemic had an outsized impact on people of color in general compared to white Americans. 

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