Pearl River As the economic numbers become more stark, and the economy teeters towards something closer to a depression than a recession, the impact on workers and the poor that has been hidden in plain sight for years is now almost impossible to ignore. Researchers, pundits, reporters, and others are now stating the obvious about the dire impact of the economic shutdown on our masses of people. Help will come little and late, but we can hope that some of the fears of the conservatives that we will have to finally build a real safety net in the United States will come true.
Here are some of the wakeup calls that are finally being heard:
- Women and minorities dominate the service industries. One out of three women are classified as essential workers for example.
- Poorly paid healthcare workers in group homes, assisted living, and nursing homes are vital. 35,000 workers and patients of nursing homes have contracted the virus in this pandemic. 7000 connected to nursing homes have died accounting for almost one-fifth of all the US deaths from coronavirus.
- The Federal Reserve has found that 60% of those surveyed couldn’t tap into rainy-day funds, borrow from family and friends or sell something to cover three months of living expenses.
- The Trump administration was forced to delay forced work requirements for food stamps that would have pushed 700,000 off of the SNAP program, acknowledging that the jobs did not exist, despite their ideology.The waiting list in Louisiana for food stamps is now approaching 100,000 people.
- If quarterly unemployment hits 30%, 15.4% of Americans will fall into poverty for the year, Columbia University researchers have found, and add nearly 10 million people to the ranks of the poor.
- Hotel trade associations estimate that nearly four million workers across all hotel segments have been furloughed or soon will be. More than 22 million workers have applied for unemployment in just four weeks, wiping out all of the job growth since 2008, while economists estimate that it could take a decade to replace these jobs.
- Food banks have exhausted supplies in many communities and are experiencing unprecedented numbers of people lining up for whatever they have to offer.
- Homeless shelters are overburdened and many have become hotspots for the virus.
- Tenants are fighting evictions from hotels and apartment complexes despite governmental orders that technically should have protected them, especially if they were in Section 8 or other governmentally-supported housing situations.
- Children are unable to be schooled at home because they lack internet access and computer equipment as well as parents who are able to stay at home.
- Workers in transportation, grocery, delivery and other jobs are dying for their work because they are essential and unable to live without a paycheck.
- Unemployment compensation is being refused workers who try to pick up any available work in some states that are claiming they should be disqualified for any hours of work.
Let’s face it. Once you start, the list is endless.
What will it take for the country at the top to learn from the bottom that we can’t go on like this, pandemic or not?