By Ray Levy-Uyeda | March 25, 2020
In a country of nearly 330 million, where 40% of the population is living paycheck to-paycheck, how wealthy does someone have to be to combat COVID-19? Like many other public health issues in the United States, the coronavirus outbreak illustrates how income inequality affects your ability to get tested, be treated and, perhaps most importantly, avoid getting sick in the first place.
With a statewide stay-at-home order in place, Bay Area residents have been instructed to work from home if they can — an impossible order to follow if your work is in a restaurant, a car, or in a business that has been deemed “essential,” like grocery stores.
Service industry jobs have historically relied on practices that push workers to provide labor at the expense of their own health in service of the larger community, and do not usually provide paid leave.
For 20-somethings in the Bay Area — even those in more white and grey-collar jobs — the experience of coronavirus can range from economic precarity to devastation.
1. Savings: $0 Age: 24 Employment: Hostess and Door Dash driver
“I was expecting to get a new job and now I don’t know what I’ll do. I will continue doordashing but that barley makes me enough money to pay for rent and food. I don’t have any savings because I don’t make enough money and now I’m struggling because of it… I live paycheck to paycheck and now without a job I’ll have to file for unemployment… My monthly expenses are about $2100.”
2. Savings: $5,000 Age: 25 Employment: Retail manager
“I have been close to homeless before so I’ve prioritized saving enough cash to last me 3 months of unemployment. I don’t have any dependants and only have to look out for myself. I’m also lucky that my employer is paying me even though I get paid an hourly rate.”
3. Savings: $100 Age: 22 Employment: Research assistant
“Oh I’m f—ed. Going to have to wait for my last two paychecks to come in and survive on that. That should be ~$2000. I have a boyfriend on salary that will help support me…Help out your friends as much you can. Unique circumstances call for untraditional kindness and solutions.”