Immigrant workers in the Retail industry represent large shares of the workers who keep grocery stores, gas stations, and pharmacies open during the pandemic, helping all Americans stock up on food and supplies they need. In the Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD metro areas, there are approximately 261,700 workers in the essential Retail industry. Immigrants constitute 25 percent of the workforce in this industry (approximately 65,000). Within the essential Retail industry, the top five occupations with the highest total counts of immigrant workers are: cashiers (approximately 13,800), first-line supervisors (10,000), retail salespersons (7,200), stockers and fillers (3,300), and pharmacists (2,400).
Carlos Castro, the owner of two Todos Supermarkets in the DC metro area, was born in Playitas, La Union and raised in San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador. We originally interviewed Mr. Castro in November 2020 as part of the El Salvador Immigrant Story. We interviewed him again to discuss how the pandemic has affected him and his business. Mr. Castro reflected on the ways in which he managed this situation: “The first priority was to protect our team. We struggled to get the protective equipment because it was very scarce. When we got our act together, we were able to protect everybody. The team felt safer.”