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Sunday, March 22, 2020

Job Hunting in the Age of the Coronavirus

In the face of COVID-19, workers of all ages are getting laid off or facing business losses in huge numbers. Where can older adults turn for work?

A lot of older adults work well past traditional retirement age to have enough money to pay the bills. Social Security is not designed to cover all expenses, but research shows that many Americans have no nest egg to help get them through. Some older adults are stretching out careers in jobs that never paid enough to tuck money away for later. Wealth inequality charts show that there are millions of these people living on the edge of a financial precipice, and now, in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic, some are falling off the edge.

Wealth distribution by percentile
Chart from Wikipedia

The global pandemic is slashing jobs by the day. “The job market is in free fall,” says one economist. “Businesses have no choice but to reduce payrolls.” Some experts anticipate job losses in the millions before the epidemic has been contained, as more than 14 million jobs in leisure and hospitality alone are at risk. What can you do if you are a bellhop, a concierge, a maid, an Uber or Lyft driver, an AirBnB host, a waitress, a bartender, a hair stylist, a retail clerk, an airline employee, or any one of a thousand other workers who will take a tremendous hit?

Hopefully, you’ll have a job waiting for you when the world begins to return to normal. But many may have to pivot to a completely new line of work for sustenance. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to try and keep a check coming in.

Your first line of defense is to file for unemployment. Expect that to be a harrowing experience, as offices were overwhelmed with five times the usual number of applicants by mid-March. Many people report that they are unable to contact their local office either online or by phone. Looking at this in another way, here is an opportunity to check if they are hiring. If you have to go to the office to file, be sure and ask if they need help (yes!) and present your resume on the spot.

Second, take that resume around to local stores that are hiring. As of this writing, those include:

Kroger and other grocery stores
United Parcel Service (UPS)
United States Postal Service (USPS)
2020 Census
Trader Joe’s
Workforce Solutions

Every store that sells groceries is booming right now, so go to where the money flows. More people are getting groceries delivered. Those who have been drivers in the gig economy may be able to transition to transporting groceries.

Tool for Gig Workers

If you are already working in the gig economy, you may want to use a tool developed by a pair of workers in the gig Workers Collective. “Between the lack of financial security (no sick leave), the number of workers living week to week, and the inability for some workers to take time off due to low income, gig workers are some of the most vulnerable dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak,” the site states.

Workers can connect with each other, help run errands or offer each other emotional support. They can assist each other in filing for benefits, or discuss a pay cut. Access a state-by-state list of resources from the Gig Workers Collective here for links to everything from help with energy bills to food stamps and medications.

State Assistance

For information on what your state is doing to assist civilians, check the National Governor’s Association site.  It has information on helpful programs, as well as travel and other restrictions, school closures, limits on gatherings, etc.

Federal Assistance

Keep tabs on the federal government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak here. The site has links to information for older adults on how to deal with the virus, travel advisories, etc. As for federal relief programs, the bills are coming through weekly, sometimes daily.

Small Business Programs (Useful for Individuals too)

Forbes is keeping a list of COVID-19 epidemic relief programs for small business owners. With a comprehensive list of local, state, and federal programs. Check it to find out about tax filing and payment extensions, disaster-area loans, eviction moratoriums and more. The format explains the program, covers who is eligible, and gives directions on how/where to apply.

Plenty of people have limited transportation, health concerns, family members who need them and a host of other barriers to changing jobs. A sudden, massive influx of unemployed people will be looking to change jobs or temporarily fill in while their place of employment is shuttered. It is going to be rough for a while, and no one knows when the economic onslaught will be over for sure. But we can look to success stories in places like China for encouragement that it will abate. Help your neighbor, keep yourself safe and we will get through these very difficult times.

Click below for the other articles in the March 2020 Senior Spirit

Health – Boosting Immunity in the Age of COVID-19


Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

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