Gig workers, who make up 1.5 million employees in the U.S. economy, have been applying to work at several gig companies in order to make up for decreased pay when a particular gig fluctuates due to poor demand, but they are finding increased competition when they do. As demand for the ride-share services such as Lyft and Uber have dropped, others - such as Instacart - have experienced considerable gains. However, delivery service drivers are usually paid less then ride-share drivers. The gig economy is seeing new workers due to unemployed workers trying gig work for the first time in order to make ends meet during the pandemic; the U.S. had an unemployment rate of 11.1% in June.
See Cathy Bussewitz, Alexandra Olson, "Gig workers face shifting roles, competition in pandemic", Associated Press, July 6, 2020
A Facebook employee has filed an official complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that the company's workplace culture has made it difficult for black people to progress in their careers - a complaint that lends substance to earlier criticism that Facebook's black representation in its workforce is poor. Facebook has approximately 48,000 employees, of which 4% is black, and a lower percentage of 3% is represented at the senior management level. The employee is a recruiter at Facebook who is part of the company's initiative to increase diversity, but alleges that the company has failed to both recruit and promote sufficient numbers of black employees. His complaint is that while he has gotten good performance reviews and has been told he was a "natural leader", that he has faced significant challenges to progressing his career.
See Shannon Bond, "'We Have A Black People Problem': Facebook Worker Claims Racial Discrimination", NPR, July 6, 2020
Fox News has terminated noted news anchor Ed Henry for sexual misconduct in the workplace, years after the incidents took place, during which time the anchor had continued to receive important job assignments. The network had received a written complaint in 2017 that continuing to give the news anchor prominent roles would damage the news station's efforts to improve the workplace environment, but the anchor's tendency to aggressively pursue younger female staff members had been occurring for years before the complaint was filed. The termination is the latest noteworthy dismissal for the network, coming four years after Fox News chairman Roger Ailes was discharged for sexual harassment.
See David Folkenflik , "Fox News Host Newly Fired For Sexual Misconduct Had Inspired Earlier Warning", NPR, July 1, 2020
The White House administration is supportive of a Phase 4 stimulus bill that would send payments to individuals directly, but noted that they would also prefer to see incentives to return to work included, setting up a battle with Democratic congressmen who would like to see the unemployment benefits that had been enacted in April to continue. Many Republicans believe that continuing solely with unemployment benefits would encourage people not to return to work. The administration is waiting on economic data in the next two weeks to determine additional stimulus amounts.
See Doina Chiacu, "Trump backs work incentives as part of next stimulus bill", Reuters, July 1, 2020
Fewer than a third of people who have continued to work during the pandemic receive additional pay or benefits, according to a survey by the Economic Policy Institute. Some essential workers who took an unpaid leave of absence discovered that they were making more money not working, due to the generous extra $600 per week in unemployment benefits, along with stimulus checks to those that qualified. While essential workers recognize that the extra unemployment benefit will cease at the end of July, barring a renewal that is being sought by the Democrats, they have increasingly taken to social media to point out that they deserve hazard pay, especially given that Covid cases persist in the U.S. and with some states having to pause re-opening plans. For essential workers making low-income wages, hardships are exacerbated due to increased costs with some expenses such as groceries, as well as the mental and emotional drain in continuing to work in potentially hazardous environments.
See Alina Selyukh , "When Essential Workers Earn Less Than The Jobless: 'We Put The Country On Our Back'", NPR, July 1, 2020
The extra $600 per week in unemployment benefits that Congress had approved in April, increasing many incomes by 10.8%, is due to expire July 31st, with no sustained recovery yet in place for the economy. This will devastate not only those who work in the hardest hit industries (hospitality), but will drag down consumer spending and increase missed housing payments, further slowing recovery and reducing GDP 2.5% in the second half of the year. The stimulus checks that had been approved by the federal government had also increased spending by low-income households, generally on items such as utilities and groceries, while spending by high-income families remains low. Once the extra unemployment benefits end, the level of benefits will be as they were pre-pandemic, purposely low in order to encourage people to seek work. However, jobs remain scarce as some employers haven't re-opened and may not re-open for a long time, if ever.
See Jonnelle Marte, Ann Saphir, "A cash cliff spells trouble for U.S. unemployed, and everyone else", Reuters, June 29, 2020
Some of China's labor activists who had been detained in 2018 and 2019 for collective bargaining efforts and protesting work conditions have been released to new lives - dependent on the condition that they no longer pursue their activist leanings. About 15 of the labor organizers and student protesters had been persuaded to give up their activism due to concerted efforts by family members and former teachers - a tactic used by the Chinese government to retrain those it considers subversive by using guilt and financial incentives. Some of them now have new identities and jobs - with some workers being paid more than they had previously been paid - and the fear that they will harm their family members by losing their jobs keeps the activists in order. Two of the workers given job placements were those that had participated in a unionizing workers at the Jasic Technology welding factory; the unionization effort has since been shut down.
See Emily Feng, "Some Of China's Freed Labor Activists Start New Lives, But State Pressure Lurks", NPR, June 29, 2020
Tens of thousands of oil and gas industry employees have lost their jobs in Texas during the coronavirus pandemic so far, with 26,000+ in April alone. Texas is the country's largest oil-producing state, and the industry contributes to 14% of the state's economy and supports one in six jobs. From January until the end of May, 60% of bankruptcies in the oil sector were in Texas alone. Oil and gas companies had cut production and expenditures, slashed staff, and paused well completions, and while the state had re-opened recently, surges in coronavirus cases in the last week have led the state to pause re-opening, potentially leading to another shutdown or pause in oil production. Insiders are pessimistic that growth will quickly return to pre-Covid-19 levels, saying that recovery will be slow.
See Larry Madowo, "Texas oil industry faces prospect of collapse amid Covid-19 losses ", The Guardian, June 26, 2020
As the city of New York slowly emerges from being the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, the economic impact of cautious recovery will likely take its toll on the city's employees. Mayor Blasio warned on Wednesday that stressed financial budgets may result in infrastructure cuts and the biggest number of layoffs in decades - approximately 22,000+ municipal workers. This echos similar grim predictions from other cities and states across the nation in an attempt to seek more aid from the federal government. The mayor's announcement came the same morning the MTA announced that the $54 billion plan to improve to the city's subway system would be suspended, while seeking an additional $3.9 billion in emergency funding to weather the crisis.
See Dana Rubinstein and Christina Goldbaum, "Pandemic May Force New York City to Lay Off 22,000 Workers", New York Times, June 26, 2020
While Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos encouraged his staff last Friday to cancel all meetings in observation of Juneteenth, and has strongly voiced his support of the Black Lives Matter movement in various avenues, some Amazon employees feel that the company needs to work harder to address systemic racism, including diversifying management ranks, increasing pay for rank-and-file workers to decrease poverty, and addressing hostile work environments. Amazon has more black employees than any other large retailer - more than 25% of its 500,000+ workforce - slightly more than Walmart, and much more than Facebook. Most of them are in hourly jobs, and Bezo's management team does not have any black managers. Earlier this week, Microsoft said it would spend $150 million on diversity efforts and planned to double the number of black managers and senior employees by 2025. A group of employees are proposing that Amazon should permit a third-party audit of bias, release detailed figures on race and promotions, and establish goals for diversity in management and leadership roles.
See Karen Weise, "Amazon Workers Urge Bezos to Match His Words on Race With Actions", New York Times, June 24, 2020