Home work is the domain of high earners

The consequences of the corona pandemic are devastating in America, the largest economy in the world. A new tripartite division of the workforce is emerging.

State of emergency also in New York: Nobody can yet say when the pandemic will end.

Unter the developed world, no country experiences greater inequality than the United States, the largest economy in the world. The severe economic depression and the corona pandemic itself are inevitably reinforcing this trend. The drama is now evident again in a depressing number: Almost ten million people applied for unemployment benefit in the last two weeks of March – more than ever before in such a short time.

Many of the applicants work in the catering industry. Or in trade. Or in other service sectors that usually pay low wages anyway.

In the United States, as in many other countries, there is currently a three-way division within employment: some of the workers maintain the production of essential goods and functions. Some inevitably stay at home because the state or local authorities prohibit their operation. And then there is the group of people who can do their work from home with ongoing payments.

Unlike in the past, working from home is now the domain of high earners: lawyers, financial brokers, programmers and management consultants can continue to do business with the help of the Internet and, for example, the video conference platforms from Zoom and Microsoft.

“You can’t skype massages,” the New York Times quotes a masseur. His profession is one of the personal services that is particularly pronounced in the United States.

It is true that the approximately two trillion dollar emergency program that Congress has just launched has increased the number of recipients of unemployment benefits to include freelance workers and the self-employed. In addition, the weekly payments have been increased significantly. For many, however, there is less left over at the end of the day. In addition, the self-employed must submit account statements and work contracts so that the completely overrun employment services can determine the appropriate amount.

And that’s not all. Approximately 3.5 million people have also lost their employer-linked health insurance as a result of unemployment – only a portion of this is covered by the Medicaid state health care system, which provides basic care for people on low incomes.

In 14 American states, however, the criteria are so narrow that the new unemployed are usually not included. “The crisis exposes the inequality in the American economy,” says the head of the left-liberal Economic Policy Institute, Thea Lee.

The shock on the American labor market is all the more severe because the families often have not set aside a nest egg. The pensioners’ organization AARP found in a survey that most of them are not prepared for emergencies. The consequences can now be seen.