Connect with us


These workers lost their jobs to the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s how they are hustling to survive – CNN



These workers lost their jobs to the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s how they are hustling to survive – CNN_5ea6121224d0c.jpeg

They seasoned pound after pound of chicken and thin-cut steak, warmed up dozens of tortillas, and stirred a few liters of salsa in their Bloomington, California, home.

It’s not anybody’s birthday or wedding or a holiday. This is how they are making money to survive a pandemic.

Jewelers by trade, they should be polishing gems. Instead they are polishing off meals to go.

“It happened so quickly that one day we were business owners and the next day we were unemployed,” Luis Ramirez, 49, told CNN.

Farmers are worried about going under. That could put fruit and vegetables in short supply
The Ramirez family shut their two Southern California jewelry stores last month when most Americans began staying home and non-essential businesses were ordered to close as the novel coronavirus spread through the United States.
Hundreds of thousands of people like the Ramirez family have become gig workers or joined the informal sector after unexpectedly losing their jobs or being forced to close their small businesses.
And the job losses are hitting people of color, women and teens particularly hard.
Maria Ramirez has cooked dozens of chicken enchiladas in her Bloomington, California, home.

After selling and repairing bracelets, necklaces and rings for nearly three decades, Maria Ramirez, 51, is starting from scratch with the help of her five children, some of whom have temporarily returned home from college. They are selling Mexican and Peruvian food for $10 a plate and making as many deliveries as they can around their neighborhood.

Just thinking about the empty parking lot at her Fontana, California, jewelry store makes Ramirez’s voice tremble. It’s because she had to say goodbye to years of work, she says, and start over.

They are making hobbies their jobs

Jace Quil used to grab her iPad and sketch cartoon-like figures with big, expressive eyes to relax after working as a substitute grade school teacher in Nashville.

Then schools closed and officials — unclear whether it would be safe to reopen — decided to keep students at home for the rest of the school year.
Her hobby has become her main source of income as she hasn’t received government aid. She filed her first tax return earlier this year after graduating from college but it hasn’t been processed so she hasn’t received one of the federal government’s stimulus checks.
Another 4.4 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week

And the 22-year-old says her unemployment application has been pending for weeks. State agencies have been scrambling to answer calls and websites are constantly crashing.

“It doesn’t seem like I’ll be able to get anything ever,” Quil told CNN.

More than 26 million Americans have filed initial unemployment claims since March 14, according to the US Department of Labor. The last five weeks have marked the most sudden surge in jobless claims since the agency started tracking the data in 1967.

The unemployment figures indicate that roughly 16.2% of the US labor force is suffering from layoffs, furloughs or reduced hours during the coronavirus pandemic.

When Quil was in college, she occasionally sold portraits to pay for food, book expenses or just to have some extra cash. For the first time, she’s focusing on trying to monetize her drawings, hoping to make enough to cover her bills.

Quil is drawing custom digital portraits of real or fictional people, original characters and anthropomorphic animals for up to $35. She’s asking friends and anyone she can reach on social media but it’s a stressful and mostly intimidating task, she says.

“I feel like I’m never producing enough or advertising enough,” Quil said. “And lately the only commissions I’ve gotten are from friends who want to support me so it makes me feel guilty.”

Like Quil, many workers are using social media and other online platforms to earn money by sharing their skills. Musicians are performing on Facebook Live for tips, chefs are offering one on one classes, and bartenders are picking up yard work.

They are taking what they can get

The red and pink roses that Geovanny Gomez used to assemble floral arrangements are gone. When the Los Angeles flower district shut down last month, the life of the 31-year-old florist and dozens of other workers came to a halt.

For nearly a month, Gomez tried rationing meals and limiting his spending to a couple of dollars a day to buy bread and fruit for him and his 54-year-old mother who has been battling cancer and other health complications.

Geovanny Gomez used to design and assemble floral arrangements at the Los Angeles Flower District.

After learning that he couldn’t work, some of his friends and neighbors donated food, but Gomez said he knew he couldn’t accept them forever.

“I still have these two hands and feet to work,” Gomez said.

Since last week, Gomez has driven to more than 50 homes and apartments in Los Angeles for Postmates, the on-demand food delivery startup. He was nervous at first about interacting with many strangers but he couldn’t pass on a chance to earn money.

He wears gloves and a face mask as he makes his trips and leaves the meals on doorsteps to avoid contact.

While it’s a source of income, Gomez says, he doesn’t see himself driving for Postmates long term. As a florist, Gomez would make up to $20 an hour, especially during Mother’s Day or when he sells floral arrangements for social events. He’s now earning less than half of his usual income and the tips he receives usually go toward gas.

Gomez is not the only one in his family who has left his career behind for now. His uncles, cousins and their wives are also unemployed and have taken jobs ranging from painting homes to sewing face masks. Some of them are undocumented workers, Gomez says, and didn’t receive stimulus checks.

They are risking their health

When the pandemic started affecting travel, it became clear for Andrew Rittler that his job at a valet parking company operating in the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport was at risk.

His work hours were cut and, about a week later, he was laid off. The 43-year-old had to find a new job to pay child support and rent and buy his diabetes supplies.

Andrew Rittler says he's afraid of contracting Covid-19 while delivering groceries and takeout near Dallas.

His job prospects vanishing, he signed up for Postmates as well as on-demand delivery services Favor and Instacart. He’s been wearing face masks and gloves and periodically checking his blood glucose while delivering groceries and takeout orders to people hunkered down at home.

Rittler is making deliveries five days a week and is barely making enough to pay for child support and some of his expenses, which include health insurance.

One of the biggest challenges besides money, Rittler says, is fighting depression, anger and frustration fueled by the nature of the pandemic. He tries to keep himself busy to forget about those feelings and says that seeing other gig workers at restaurants and grocery stores gives him some hope.

“I think most of America wants to work now. I think everybody is on the same mindset of trying to be productive,” Rittler said.

Like many Americans, Rittler is stuck in limbo and, with no end in sight, he’s unsure of how he will emerge on the other side of the pandemic.

Still, Rittler is digging for opportunities because by working hard — one of these days — he would get back on his feet.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


The US will need to spend trillions more as economy takes until 2022 to fully recover: CNBC survey – CNBC




The US will need to spend trillions more as economy takes until 2022 to fully recover: CNBC survey – CNBC_5ea8b568c0d67.jpeg

The economy could take one to two years to rebound to full strength and the Federal Reserve and Congress, having already committed historic sums to fight the coronavirus pandemic, will have to commit trillions more, according to respondents to the CNBC Fed Survey.

With the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet already at an unprecedented $6.45 trillion, the 36 respondents see it rising on average to $9.8 trillion. The additional trillions will be added by the end of the current quarter, the respondents expect. Congress, having already committed about $2.5 trillion, is seen putting in an additional $2 trillion.

“My guess is that the virus itself will largely disappear within a year, but that the structural social and economic impacts will be with us much longer,” John Kattar, chief investment officer at Ardent Asset Management, wrote in response to the survey.

Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist for the National Retail Federation, said, “The policy response has been appropriate, but policy takes time to work its way into the economy and targeted sectors. … Many small businesses stand at risk.”

Despite the massive relief, respondents still see the unemployment rate rising to 19%, hitting that level in August. It’s expected to decline only gradually, to 11% by December and to 7% by the end of 2021. That would leave it at about double the rate before the crisis.

Second quarter of 2022

“With spiking unemployment and rising business closures … the prospects of a sharp rebound (is) far outweighed by the more realistic prospect of a longer-term structural disruption,” said Lindsey Piegza, chief economist at Stifel.

A 33% plurality believes the economy won’t be fully restored until the second quarter of 2022. But 19% believe it will be back by year-end and another 19% believe it can happen even earlier, highlighting a wide range of views about the speed and strength of a recovery.

“During the pandemic, production and consumption have been largely deferred and not lost,” wrote Rob Morgan, director of market strategy at US Energy Advisors. “This leads me to believe the economy will experience a V-shaped recovery beginning in the third quarter 2020.”

On average, respondents see gross domestic product falling by 24% this quarter, followed by a rebound of 4.7% in the third quarter and another strong quarter in the fourth. It won’t be enough to make back the losses in the first half. For the full year, GDP is forecast to decline by 5%.

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, said a vaccine is essential for the economy to gain traction. “Until then, any recovery will remain something of a slog, characterized by halting growth and high single-digit unemployment. And even then, the economy won’t be in full swing and fully recovered until mid-decade.”

The Fed funds rate is seen remaining at zero for the rest of the year and rise to 1.9% in 2021. The Federal Reserve concludes its two-day policy meeting on Wednesday. Answers for CNBC’s Fed Survey from investors and economists were collected Thursday to Saturday. 

The S&P is forecast to finish lower on the year at 2,844 than Monday’s close, and rise to 3,141 next year for a 9% gain by the end of 2021.

 “I think the risk markets are anticipating a faster return to normalized economic conditions than we are likely to see,” says John Ryding, chief economic advisor at Brean Capital LLC.

Among the risks: Respondents place a 61% probability on a second round of contagion in the fall and winter.

Continue Reading


White House reportedly considering another round of stimulus checks – Atlanta Journal Constitution




White House reportedly considering another round of stimulus checks – Atlanta Journal Constitution_5ea8b55f4be9a.jpeg

As the U.S. economy slowly reopens, Americans across the country are still grappling with job loss, furloughs and economic uncertainty. To combat the continued financial struggles some are facing, a White House official says the administration is “studying carefully” another $1,200 payment to citizens.

White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett told the media the administration is determining whether to provide those who qualify another round of stimulus checks, according to NBC News reporter Geoff Bennett. The additional financial support could be included in a phase 4 deal.


No word on when the package would be presented the House, but, with the virus still looming, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told the media Tuesday that the House will no longer come back next week after speaking to House physician, according to a tweet by Politico congressional reporter Sarah Ferris

 “We made a judgment that we will not come back next week,” Hoyer told reporters.

While the new stimulus checks are being considered, some Americans have not yet received the first round of checks. The IRS began cutting stimulus checks in mid-April. As of this week, about 90 million people have seen the economic bump in their accounts, according to economic news site Market Watch

 The hope is that the checks, which average about $1,200 a piece, will encourage spending and quell the financial pressure to pay essential bills as the COVID-19’s impact has shuttered manufacturing plants, retail stores and limited business hours for dozens of companies.

»MORE: The US is reopening but ‘normal’ is still a ways off

The IRS had distributed about 88.1 million stimulus checks as of April 17 and paid out $157.96 billion, according to statistics released April 24. That’s more than half of the $290 billion put aside for direct payments to individuals in the $2.2 trillion bill called the CARES Act.

Consumer confidence is still low

The Conference Board Tuesday reported that its consumer confidence index tumbled in the month of April, as millions lost their jobs and others feared for the current and future work conditions. 

The Conference Board said Tuesday that its confidence index plunged to a reading of 86.9, down from 118.8 in March. The index is composed of consumers’ assessment of present conditions and expectations about the future. 

 The present conditions index dropped from 166.7, to 76.4, a 90-point drop that was the largest on record. The expectations index, based on the future outlook, improved slightly from 86.8 in March to 93.8 in April.

The numbers in the present conditions index “reflects the sharp contraction in economic activity and surge in unemployment claims,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the Conference Board.

Kathy Bostjancic, chief U.S. financial economist at Oxford Economics, said the confidence declines were worrisome because “consumers’ downbeat views about future income prospects can restrain consumer spending and the overall economy.”

Consumers drive about 70% of all economic activity in the U.S.

Many economists believe the country has already entered a recession that will be the largest economic disruption since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today.
See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

Continue Reading


Goldman Sachs explains why stocks can keep rising even as a record-sized recession beckons – Business Insider




Goldman Sachs explains why stocks can keep rising even as a record-sized recession beckons – Business Insider_5ea8b54fba705.jpeg

happy trader nyseDrew Angerer/Getty Images

  • Markets may continue to look past negative coronavirus news, especially if projections continue to show that the economy is expected to rebound after the pandemic, a Monday note from Goldman Sachs said.
  • An analysis of GDP forecasts from the bank found that investors tended to discount the next two years of macroeconomic performance.
  • Thus, metrics that focus only on growth over the next year “will overstate current valuations, given the large rebound expected beyond this year,” Zach Pandl, a cohead of global FX and EM strategy, wrote in the note.
  • Read more on Business Insider.

Markets may continue to look past negative coronavirus news, especially if projections continue to show that the economy is expected to rebound after the pandemic, according to Goldman Sachs.

An analysis by the bank using changes to gross-domestic-product forecasts found that investors typically discounted at least the next two years of macroeconomic performance, a Monday note said.

That means that metrics that focus only on growth over the next year — such as multiples based on 12-month earnings expectations — “will overstate current valuations, given the large rebound expected beyond this year,” Zach Pandl, a cohead of global foreign-exchange and emerging-markets strategy, wrote in the note.

While the coronavirus-induced recession is set to be the deepest contraction in modern history, it’s also likely to be the shortest, Pandl said. Many economists expect that, after a dip in 2020, GDP will rebound in 2021 and 2022. By early April, consensus GDP forecasts incorporated a virus hit, down 4% this year. But forecasts are for 4% growth in 2021 and 3% in 2022 — an unusual pattern, Pandl said.

Read more: Goldman Sachs recommends investors buy ‘quality at a reasonable price.’ Here’s are the firm’s top 10 stock picks that fit the bill.

That means that more disappointing data in the near term may not weigh heavily on markets, as activity is expected to snap back “relatively quickly,” Pandl wrote. “The depth of the downturn matters much less than the duration of the recovery,” he said.

Goldman’s analysis came amid a stock-market recovery from March 23 lows. As US states weigh relaxing strict lockdown measures designed to curb the spread of COVID-19, stocks have slowly gained on optimism that the economy will soon reopen. From March 23 to Monday’s close, the S&P 500 gained about 29%, but it was down about 15% from all-time highs in February.

Still, many economists disagree that any rebound after the coronavirus pandemic will be a quick one. Instead of the sharp V-shaped recovery that Goldman is suggesting, many expect a rebound to take a softer U shape.

Read more: The manager of the best small-cap fund of the past 20 years explains why he’s betting big on a consumer recovery — and shares his top 4 stock picks in the struggling sector

Continue Reading