We’re four months into our new pandemic-altered reality, and while businesses straddle the line between reopening and shuttering (again), many Americans are finding their jobs no longer exist. Last week, 1.3 million Americans applied for unemployment insurance for the first time. Self-employed, independent contractors and gig economy workers — a vital and burgeoning contingent of today’s workforce — remain especially hard hit.
Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? It depends on who you ask and how you approach it.
Nearly 13 million Americans are receiving unemployment benefits via the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which aims to help gig economy workers and those not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits. PUA recipients make up 41% of the 31.5 million total unemployment benefit recipients nationwide as of June 13, according to recent Labor Department statistics.
Even with these guardrails in place, not everyone is benefitting.
The racial inequality workforce problem
For Black Americans, long-standing racial inequities have made the financial impact of COVID-19 even more extreme. According to the Pew Research Center, 44% of Black Americans reported that they or someone in their household experienced a job or wage loss due to COVID-19, compared to 38% of white Americans. More than two-thirds of Black adults (73%) said they did not have emergency funds to cover three months of expenses, while just 47% of white adults said the same.
What’s more, an analysis of Labor Department data by the University of California, Santa Cruz found that more than 2 out of 5 Black small businesses and self-employed workers have been forced to shutter during the pandemic — well over twice the rate of white businesses.
At Steady, we’ve created a platform that helps people find high demand jobs, increase their income and plan for more financially stable futures. We recently opened up an emergency cash grant program as a result of the pandemic, and so far, 46.5% of our applicants have been Black.
Navigating the new job market and how we’re helping workers
It’s devastating to see American workers hurting and to so clearly witness how racial inequities are compounding that hurt. Steady recognizes how challenging life is right now and we want to serve as an immediate resource for those who need work and/or additional income.
Mint has long supported people in managing and optimizing their finances, so with all of the hardship brought on by COVID-19, it made sense to join forces with Steady to encourage personal financial empowerment for all Americans. On average, Steady members earn more than $4,000 per year in additional income and in response to COVID-19, we’re offering emergency cash grants, telemedicine support and rapid ACH cash deposits.
What will the future hold?
Pre-pandemic, we lived in a world where there were more jobs than job seekers, or at least a healthy 1:1 ratio. Now workers are struggling in a world where there’s maybe 1 job for every 4 job seekers.
Together with Mint, Steady is here to help everyone navigate these difficult times. We’re committed to empowering workers and helping people find jobs that are still in-demand and right for them. To get started and see available work in your area, download the free Steady app, here.