To the extent that the coronavirus is widespread in the United States, the active population of the country is divided into two categories of people: those who can work from home, and those who can’t.
Servers, hotel employees, tourist attractions and other business services to the person have been among the most affected by the wave of layoffs, as well as the employees at the bottom of the scale.
While the pandemic is far from over, and analysts predict a worsening of inequality in the world’s largest economy.
“Qualified people, who are doing well and are at home, will ask their employers of the practical arrangements for them,” says Jesse Rothstein, a former economist at the ministry of Labour who is now teaching at the University of California.
Low-skill workers, meanwhile, ” will take more risks for less money “.
Jerome Powell, the head of the u.s. federal Reserve (Fed), has described the pandemic as ” a great amplifier of inequality “.
But experts believe that this is not inevitable, especially if Congress passes new measures to support companies in difficulty and to consumers.
“We have the opportunity to improve the situation, even compared to before, but it’s not going to occur alone. It takes political will, ” note Claudia sahm duos, a former economist of the Fed, a researcher at the Washington-based Center for Economic Growth.
When the pandemic Covid-19’s arrival in the United States, the unemployment was at a historically low level (3.5% in February, according to official statistics) and wages, long stagnant, were just beginning to rise.
But the job market was not as healthy as it looked.
The index of quality of employment in the private sector (JQI), a statistic which the government uses to assess the balance between the positions paid well or not (excluding managers), was in decline for years.
In February, this index was at its lowest level since march 2012, because many of the jobs created were paid below the weekly average.
According to a study published last year by the Brookings Institution, 44% of us employees are ” low-income “, with a median income of $ 18,000 per year only.
A result of the containment measures, unemployment has reached 14.7% in April, a level not seen since the Great depression of nearly a century, and the economy is now leading to a recession almost certain.
Government experts believe that the layoffs are temporary.
But Michael Weber, a professor from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, warns that if the companies close or reduce their staff, job seekers will find themselves in competition against each other, which will lower wages, a trend that is typical of recessions.
That is hiring ?
The supermarket chain Kroger, the retail giant online, Amazon, and several chains of fast-food announced the hiring massive these last few months.
But “it is of the same employers who are criticised for years because they pay wages unreasonably low,” notes Michael Weber. “They are often linked to situations of income precarious “, he adds.
To Robert Hockett, the Cornell University, the employee should request risk premiums for working in environments exposed to the contagion.
The Fed also reported this week that employers in the Boston area had temporarily increased the wages of 30%, for this reason. Amazon has increased to $ 2 its minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour for the positions in the warehouses.
In practice, the unemployed may not have the choice, especially if Congress fails to extend loans to SMES, and unemployment benefits put in place by the stimulus titanic 2200 billion dollars was approved in march.
The government of Donald Trump has been reluctant to the idea of spending more for support measures for workers, predicting that the coronavirus was going to be defeated and that the economy was going to set out again of more beautiful in July.
But many economists are doubtful about a quick recovery. “You walk a tightrope, in this moment,” said Robert Hockett.