A survey of economic conditions by the Center for Indian Country Development of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank showed that tribal economies are being hard hit by the crisis.
The survey found that both the proportion of workers in service industries as well as the proportion of employment in exposed industries was higher than that of non tribal economies. The report explains the large exposure to industries vulnerable in the Covid crisis:
“Part of the reason Native American employment is concentrated in these occupations and industries is that tribal enterprises are large employers on reservations, and due to historical and jurisdictional reasons, they are often concentrated in the arts, recreation, and accommodation industries, including gaming. For example, 2019 Indian gaming employment nationwide furnished 787,878 direct or indirect jobs that contributed $34.5 billion in direct or indirect wages..”
Since tribal governments rely on revenues from tribal industries there is the ripple effect on government programs and services. Moreover, over 80 percent of the tribal governments surveyed had imposed social distancing policies much before the national emergency. Over 40 percent of tribal governments and 20 percent of tribal enterprises surveyed had made staffing cuts.