Lost jobs and wages: COVID-19 exposes wealth gap in US

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Millions of Americans are struggling economically due to COVID-19. Many have lost their jobs, or their incomes or work hours have been reduced. Some are dipping into savings accounts to cover rent, food, and other essentials. 

COVID-19 has exposed a class issue, according to Robert Reich, professor of public policy at UC Berkeley. 

On one side, there are professionals who can work from home, or are furloughed while still receiving benefits. 

On the other side: working class people, such as those in the personal service industry, who are more vulnerable to the novel coronavirus; or people who are laid off already. 

“Eighty percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. And when those paychecks are suddenly interrupted because of a national health crisis, it is opening people’s eyes to how intensely interdependent we are, and how much we need in terms of basic security,” Reich says.

Meanwhile, Chris Thornberg, director of the UC Riverside Center for Economic Forecasting, points out that we can all look forward to an economic jumpstart when the pandemic is over. 

“When we come out the other side of this, there is going to be a lot of pent-up demand. There are already a lot of people .... who want to go out to those restaurants again. Those folks will have an opportunity to be re-employed,” he says. 

Credits

Guests:
Robert Reich - professor of Public Policy at the University of California Berkeley, former labor secretary under Bill Clinton - @RBReich, Chris Thornberg - Founding Partner at Beacon Economics LLC

Host:
Steve Chiotakis

Producers:
Christian Bordal, Jenna Kagel, Rebecca Mooney