Monday, March 30, 2020

White Collar Controlavirus "Recession"

WaPo | “I didn’t think it was going to happen to me just because of where I worked,” Kerr, 29, said of his first substantial job as a civilian. “We’re going to have a ton of bills, and I have no idea how they’re going to get paid.”

The coronavirus pandemic has sent the United States hurtling toward recession with startling haste, as dozens of states and cities have taken drastic measures to battle the fast-spreading disease that has claimed more than 27,000 lives worldwide. People are sequestering themselves and nonessential businesses have shuttered as communities adapt to social distancing, the best defense against infection. But as last week’s record-shattering 3.3 million jobless claims indicate, the near-shutdown is taking a toll in almost every corner of the U.S. economy.

White-collar workers, who make up a greater share of the economy than ever before, are increasingly getting caught in the fallout.

“When I was talking to my parents at first, my dad said, ‘This is going to be a really big impact for service industry workers,” said Erica Newell, who was laid off this week from her job in client success at a Salt Lake City start-up. “But I’m seeing people that are not in the service industry, like people in tech and whatever, and those people are being hit really, really hard. So I think it’s safe to assume it’s everybody.”

Blue-collar jobs, which generally involve trade, manufacturing and labor, had once been the backbone of the nation’s economy. But the shift toward automation and a more service-based economy in recent years has caused many of those jobs to disappear while professional, or white-collar, jobs in tech, business management and consulting have grown.

White-collar workers in sales, business management, technology, professional and administrative jobs make up about 54 percent of the U.S. economy — about 80 million positions, according to a Washington Post analysis of Census Bureau data from 2018, the most recent year available.