CHN’s COVID-19 Watch: Tracking Hardship May 14, 2021


May 14, 2021

COVID-19 HardshipMay 14, 2021

The where-are-the-good-jobs edition. The economy is growing in fits and starts. More than one million combined jobs were added during the months of March and April — although the April jobs report was nothing to write home about. But evidence is emerging that many of the jobs that are returning are not good jobs; they pay low wages, have few benefits, or fall short in other measures of job quality. That contradicts the narrative of governors in 12 states terminating federal unemployment benefits. These governors claim that the extra unemployment benefits, that may exceed wages in low-paying jobs, are discouraging workers from returning to work. In fact, when there are jobs to return to, even at low wages, workers are taking them. But right now, there are still only 8 million job openings and 16 million jobless workers. And nearly 7 million adults reported they couldn’t get child care; that, not unemployment aid, is keeping many parents from going back to work. . 

“We can create an economy where everyone has a good job,” writes Tracy Williams, a Director at Omidyar Network, where she focuses on reimagining capitalism and creating good jobs with better benefits and protections. “But if we don’t start to pay attention to the quality, and not just the quantity of jobs, we risk creating an economy where major disruptions driven by pandemics or natural disasters, automation, and climate change could lead to continued deterioration in quality of jobs for those who already find themselves in a precarious position. And if we continue to rely on the unemployment rate to tell us what is going on, we risk becoming dangerously out of touch with what is really happening.” 

President Biden’s plan would create and improve jobs on so many levels – raising wages and benefits for essential home care workers; paying prevailing wages in safe and healthy workplaces while ensuring workers have the right to organize and bargain; delivering clean drinking water, a renewed electric grid, and high speed broadband to all Americans; and bringing needed repairs to our highways, bridges, ports, airports, and transit systems. 

That’s only the beginning. Biden also has proposed two years of pre-school for children and two years of community college for adults. He would resuscitate the child care industry, an essential step toward putting millions of women back in the workforce. He would extend the improved Earned Income Tax Credit for workers without dependent children (permanently) and the Child Tax Credit (through 2025), and he would expand access to health care – another step that would create good-paying jobs. 

Another thing we could do is raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. But (spoiler alert!) you’ll be hearing more about that from CHN a little ways down the road. 


More than half 

52 percent of workers laid off during the pandemic – even if they were subsequently rehired – reported a decline in their overall job quality as measured across 11 dimensions, including pay, benefits, stability, and safety. Tweet this. 



Those who started 2020 in a low-quality or “bad” job – based on their own assessment – were far more likely to have been laid off (36 percent) than those working a high-quality or “good” job pre-pandemic (23 percent). And low-wage workers with high-quality jobs in 2019 reported experiencing much lower COVID-19 risk and better employer-provided protective measures during the pandemic. Tweet this. 


895,000; $4.66b 

The number of workers who will lose federal pandemic unemployment benefits early because 12 states, as of May 13, have announced they will opt out of delivering the federal benefits. Total benefits lost: $4.66 billion. The National Employment Law Project is calling on the U.S. Dept. of Labor to deliver the benefits, which are mandatory under federal law. Tweet this. 



According to government estimates, one-third of small landlords are at risk of bankruptcy or foreclosure as tenants struggle to pay rent. More than 8 million rental properties across the country are behind in payments by an average of $5,600, according to U.S. Census data. Nearly half of these rental properties are not owned by banks or big corporations, but rather by small landlords. Tweet this. 



The proportion of Americans sometimes or often without enough to eat in the previous week has dropped more than 40 percent since its peak in December, according to Census data through April 26; nearly 13 million fewer adults reporting on their households This is proof that hundreds of billions of dollars in direct stimulus is working. Tweet this. 



A new survey by found Americans planned to use their stimulus checks to cover essential expenses such as monthly bills (45 percent) or day-to-day necessities such as food or supplies (36 percent). Only 13 percent said they would use the funds for non-essential spending. 



Of adults living in households with children, 11 percent (close to 7 million) were in households where children were unable to attend day care/another child care arrangement because of the coronavirus pandemic in the past four weeks, according to Household Pulse Survey data collected April 14-26.



The U.S. economy added just 266,000 jobs during the month of April, well under the one million new jobs that were forecast by some economists. It was a sharp drop-off from the 770.000 jobs added in March. The U.S. remains 8 millions jobs in the hole after losing 22.3 million jobs in March and April 2000.


2.2 million 

The number of Americans with low incomes still not covered by Medicaid expansion in the 12 states that have refused to expand coverage, despite generous incentives from the federal government. Most of the 2.2 million people live in the South and are people of color.


64 million/ 

$800 billion 

Around the world, women have lost 64 million jobs and $800 billion in income during the pandemic – that’s equivalent to the combined GDP of 98 countries. These figures come from Oxfam, but experts warn they could be much worse because women working in tourism, retail, and hospitality often are not counted.