Blue collars a red flag for Covid health

The myth that the coronavirus pandemic is a challenge we are all facing equally has been exposed as false by new ACU research.

Australians who live in a suburb with a high proportion of blue-collar workers are far more likely to have had Covid than those in a white-collar area.

“We are not all in the same boat,” said research author Dr Tom Barnes, economic sociologist and senior research fellow at the ACU Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences, who produced the research for Catholic Health Australia.

“Blue collar workers cannot work from home. They have a much higher risk of occupational exposure which is directly reflected in higher case numbers.”

For each percentage point increase in the proportion of blue-collar workers in a local government area (LGA) there was one additional coronavirus case for every 183 people living in the area.

In Sydney, the worst hit suburbs were in the Canterbury-Bankstown area which accounted for almost one fifth (19.4%) of the cases in Greater Sydney during the Third Wave, although they are home to only 6% of the population.  

In Melbourne the northern suburb LGA of Hume accounted for 18.8% of Third Wave cases, although home to only 4.7% of the population.

Suburbs with high numbers of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) residents were also more likely to have high case numbers, although the effect was not as dramatic as in the occupational category.

Every one percent increase in the percentage of CALD residents per LGA led to 0.39 percent increase in COVID cases.

The research also showed that the worst hit LGAs had the lowest rates of full vaccination.

“This research shows clearly that the coronavirus pandemic has disproportionately affected the most vulnerable and least affluent sections of our community and the people who have the least resources to manage illness and lost income.

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