One cannot quantify the suffering and hardship caused by the almost 120,000 world wide deaths and 1.8 million infections from the Covid-19 pandemic. On top of the massive loss of life that has come with the pandemic, the economic crisis it is causing results in even more misery.
The financial turmoil caused by the pandemic has hit American workers hard. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, from March 15 through April 1st there were 16.8 million jobless claims in the United States. That is almost double the total number of jobs lost during the Great Recession of 2008.
As many around the country have been dealing with this hardship, this story has been no different for the workers in Orange County.
“I have found myself struggling to find money for basic things that I have not had to do before like gas and groceries. Being a college student without a degree has made being in this pandemic really difficult,” said Neily Green, a SJHHS alumni who graduated in 2019.
Young workers like Green who are just entering the job market are being hit especially hard by the economic damage. This large portion of the population that is already crippled by student debt is now being stripped of its employment opportunities, at least in the short term.
Even if the presence of Covid-19 in the U.S. diminishes after a few months, consumer confidence and spending capital won’t return quite as quickly. This potentially leaves young Americans who are trying to gain a financial footing with difficulty buying homes, building up savings, and, most importantly, without jobs.
The financial burden that this pandemic leaves on the American people will, in all likelihood, be felt for months if not years after viral infections have ceased.
“As the financial anxiety affects my client pool, I would imagine that my financial anxiety will exist longer as I am reliant on others feeling financially stable to make their moves. No one knows what impact the virus will have on the real estate market and thus for the foreseeable future consumers/clients will be hesitant,” said Paul Demboski, a real estate agent in Long Beach.
The Government has made an effort to fight these problems. On March 27th, President Trump signed into law a $2 trillion dollar economic stimulus bill that includes direct payment to individuals, suspension of student loan payments, and boosted unemployment benefits.
This stimulus package however, is deeply flawed. $500 billion, 25% of the deal went to bail out corporations. This is happening while the bill includes no plans for permanent living wage, paid sick leave for all, or health care for the uninsured. It’s no coincidence that the S&P 500 has jumped roughly 10% since the law was passed, yet American jobless claims continue to skyrocket. If our essential workers truly are “essential” then the economic relief packages passed by the US Government should treat them as such, not CEOs.
On top of skimping out on relief to working Americans, the Government’s financial system is ill equipped to distribute the money. Some Americans will get the money immediately because of bank accounts filed on their tax returns. Many most in need of the payment will face difficulty receiving the money because they are too poor to file tax returns. This problem could have been greatly improved by creating a federal reserve bank account for each American, but this idea was shot down in the House of Representatives.
“I received my last paycheck and now I am waiting to be paid my unemployment pay. My unemployment pay per week is what I generally would make in one day, causing significant income loss. Another consideration that I am still unsure of, are mine and my family’s medical benefits,” said Shannon Demboski, who is a registered nurse.
The Demboski family’s story is an example of how the economic instability brought upon by the Covid-19 pandemic can bring anxiety and uncertainty to an otherwise financially comfortable family. The ineptitude of the American government to provide an adequate relief system and give back to its workers leads one to think that there are deeper problems with the system than just market shutdown induced by the Covid-19 pandemic.