Reflecting on 2 Years of COVID-19 and How it Has Shaped Our Economy
- Essential Common Future
March Spotlight on labor, childcare, and how the pandemic has shaped our economy
Two years. That is how long we have felt the uneasy slow burn, and often crushing weight of this pandemic. Two years ago, when we all learned the phrase “two weeks to flatten the curve” and tried our best to stay physically separate from as many people as our jobs and living conditions allowed, I joined the staff at Common Future.
To borrow from Rebecca Solnit, hope in the darkness and turmoil, is an embrace of the unknown. I see that hope in our network, and their tireless efforts to keep building, keep moving, keep their communities alive, no matter what is thrown before them. In those turbulent and dark days of mid March and April 2020, we saw our entrepreneur support groups shift their offerings to help their small businesses navigate grants and loans and shutdowns, all without additional operating support. We saw mutual aid and direct relief groups spring to action as low-wage, gig and other marginalized workers lost their jobs and their wages. We cried and raged as more Black lives were senselessly taken, and felt pangs of hope as people donned masks and took to the streets in towns big and small to call for change. While much sorrow remains, and new sorrows are added, people’s capacity for hope hasn’t faded.
This past year — or year 2 of the pandemic — has shown us just how much has radically changed forever, and where those glimmers of hope might be, and also where the deep eddies of inequality still persist and even fester in this turmoil. The “big churn” or “great resignation” is just one example. Support for unions is the highest it’s been since 1965. However, even with many households and workers finding their voice, and enough financial footing to demand change or leave jobs that don’t value them, many more workers and households are struggling to keep going and make ends meet. In 2021, the federal government temporarily implemented a child tax credit that cut child poverty by 40%, only to have that much-needed support ended due to politics. What’s more, Black and Latino workers aren’t finding new or better jobs at the same rate as their white counterparts, exacerbating already deep inequalities. Women, even if they want to or need to, aren’t returning to the workforce as quickly as men.
When schools went virtual, and daycares closed, our society took it as expected that women would play a major role in keeping kids focused on their virtual teachers while juggling or quitting their jobs. And for the majority Black and Latino workers for whom virtual work was not an option, they were forced to make hard decisions about competing needs like being home with children, keeping a job, and being daily exposed to a deadly pandemic.
In this newsletter, you will read about many of the above issues, including the inherent issues with the childcare economy and how we must fix it, the undue burdens placed on immigrant and gig workers, and Rodney’s reflection on how this pandemic has affected us
- The Childcare Economy is Broken, And Women are Bearing the Brunt
- The Pandemic has Laid Bare the Vulnerabilities Gig, Migrant, and Contract Workers Face
- Rodney Foxworth: Two Years
We must continue to hope while being critical of what isn’t working for our communities and digging in to build an economy and a world that offers better and meets the crises and opportunities that lay before us.
The Childcare Economy
- Bloomberg: Child-Care Crisis Keeps U.S. Women Out Of Workforce For Longer
- CNBC: More Than 300,000 Women Left the Labor Force In September
- Co-Op News: Can Home Care Co-Ops Fix The USA’s Broken Care Sector?
- Ms. Magazine: Care Workers Are Essential. It’s Time to Build a Caring Economy.
- Next City: How A Cincinnati Preschool Became Worker-Owned
- The Washington Post: Why Haven’t U.S. Mothers Returned To Work? The Child-Care Infrastructure They Need Is Still Missing
Labor and the Economy
- Brookings Institute: Racial Economic Inequality Amid The Covid-19 Crisis
- Economic Policy Institute: Black And Hispanic Workers Are Much Less Likely To Be Able To Telework
- Economic Policy Institute: Inequities Exposed: How Covid-19 Widened Racial Inequities In Education, Health, And The Workforce
- Fast Company: It’s Not The ‘Great Resignation’ but the ‘Great Reprioritization’
- Gallup: Approval Of Labor Unions At Highest Point Since 1965
The Common Future Policy Incubator
Do you have a big vision to change state or federal economic policy? Do you want to get connected to brilliant, community-oriented thinkers like you to help you get there? We’re looking for leaders like you who are pushing for game-changing economic policy work that:
- Opens ownership opportunities for historically underrepresented groups.
- Unlocks private and public capital where it can be best put to work.
- Enables competitive and fair markets for independent, small and medium enterprises.
Learn more or apply to the Common Future Policy Incubator!
We hope you’ll take this time to reflect with us and share what we’re doing to create a more inclusive economy. Like the stories you read? Share them with your network on social and be sure to tag @commonfutureco. Want updates like this directly in your inbox? Click here to sign up for our monthly newsletter.