It's been more than half a year after the coronavirus pandemic and Amalia Hernandez de Ramirez hasn't slept well.
"Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and think about it. It's difficult to get back to sleep as I will manage," she told MarketWatch of a Spanish-speaking interpreter. "It's really beating me up."
What is keeping Albuquerque, N.M., 57, is worries about partially paid bills, whether she can buy all the groceries she needs, and the new reality of her bi-weekly paycheck, which has shrunk from $ 1,500 before the pandemic to $ 800.
She is grimly lucky.
This is because Hernandez de Ramirez has some income, at least in the particularly hard hit domestic workers sector. She supervises senior caregivers in the cooperative care organization that she co-founded. She managed 20 people. It's now 12.
Amalia Hernandez de Ramirez of Albuquerque, New Mexico saw her paycheck drop from $ 1,500 to $ 800 – but she is better off than many domestic workers.
Before the COVID-19 strike, 9% of domestic workers were out of jobs in a week. This was the result of a new survey by the National Domestic Workers Alliance of more than 20,000 Spanish-speaking house cleaners, nannies and domestic workers.
Then came the pandemic, along with shutdown orders and social distancing efforts that kept families at home and slowed down the demand for care and cleaning.
According to the survey, 36% of the employees surveyed were unemployed at the end of September. This is an improvement from 68% with no work in early May. Most of the participants are mothers of school-age children or younger, the report said.
More than half of the workers surveyed were unable to pay their rent or mortgage between April and September. Around two thirds of employees did not receive a stimulus check and the vast majority (86%) did not apply for unemployment insurance from June onwards. For those who did, 43% received the benefits.
Hernandez de Ramirez was making a little too much to be eligible for unemployment benefits in her state, and that excluded her from the $ 600 billion weekly benefits under the CARES Act of $ 2.2 trillion.
Hernandez de Ramirez and her husband and daughter received stimulus checks. Your son is still waiting for his.
"It's now a full blown depression for domestic workers."
"It's now a full blown depression for domestic workers," said Ai-jen Poo, co-founder and executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, a nonprofit advocacy group.
The country's estimated 2.5 million domestic workers comprise some of the fastest growing jobs in the country, she said, but they are some of the least lucrative.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, domestic helper jobs will be 34% above average employment growth by 2029. The median wage is nearly $ 25,300 per year.
"Our economy just doesn't work for domestic workers," Poo said.
Domestic Servants and the Assignment
The economy is currently not working for many women, the data says. So much so that some observers refer to this as an "assignment".
Women have lost more jobs than men since the pandemic broke, according to the Center for American Progress, a left-wing think tank. From February to April, women lost 12.1 million jobs while men lost around 10 million, researchers said, looking at Bureau of Labor Statistics figures.
From February to April, women lost 12.1 million jobs while men lost around 10 million, researchers said.
One big reason is that the service sector – an industry where many jobs are based on personal interactions – was disproportionately affected during the outbreak.
The sector employs more women than men, researchers found. Another reason is that women still do most of the unpaid childcare, and many drop out of school to cope with the prospect of distance learning and disrupted childcare.
The talks on a stimulus agreement before election day have now collapsed. As early as August, the survey among domestic workers asked participants to rate what should be included in an aid package.
The top priority was free COVID-19 tests and treatments regardless of immigration status. Access to childcare assistance is almost in second place, the report says.
The consequence of a payment that is not on the books
Most of the domestic workers surveyed who did not apply for unemployment benefit said they did not try because they did not think they would qualify.
Undocumented workers are not eligible for unemployment benefits, but those with a work permit can receive benefits under the National Employment Law Project.
The Domestic Worker Survey was intentionally not collecting status information due to questions being asked through social media where privacy policies were beyond the control of respondents. Still, researchers said it was "reasonable to conclude that a significant percentage of our survey respondents" were overseas-born documented and undocumented workers.
Another aggravating factor could be informal pay, where workers get cash or payments through apps and don't have pay slips to prove their earnings.
“I feel very insecure. I don't know what the future will bring. "
A New York nanny, "V.C.", is an example.
During the nanny's seven and a half years with a family, she was paid for using cash, checks, and apps. In March the family moved upstairs for two and a half hours and asked V.C. come with her. (The nanny did not want to be identified for privacy reasons so as not to endanger her future career prospects.)
The family request was a difficult question for a woman who had aging family members in Queens. She applied for unemployment in April and received her first check in September.
It has been a long wait for a woman who is still looking for something new to do. "I was very nervous, very nervous, and didn't know what to do," said V.C. said MarketWatch.
In normal times, government labor officials could handle a case like V.C. in two to three weeks, said Victor Brito, a senior paralegal at Legal Services NYC who handled the V.C. edited. This is the time to review outcome documentation, which may include PayPal data, he said.
During the pandemic, the processing time was three to four months. "In the meantime, applicants are still receiving credit card bills and still have to put food on the table," said Brito.
V.C. has been looking for new jobs but many vacancies are for nannies that won't work for her. "I feel very insecure, I don't know what the future will bring."
"It mostly comes back for well-trained nannies"
Many caregivers fall through the cracks of formal temporary safety nets put in place by the government and create their own.
The Nanny Relief Fund popped up in the spring, fueled by some corporate donations and small dollar donations from nannies. In June, the fund paid out 80 grants of $ 500 to nannies, said Rachael Lubin, a founding member who started the fund and is a nanny himself. Some recipients said they used the money on bills and rent back, Lubin said.
"Even the jobs that came back came back for those who probably didn't have to struggle anyway."
The organization, which is applying for charitable status, is planning another round of donations next month, said Lubin, who is also on the board of directors of the International Nanny Association, an umbrella organization for the home childcare industry.
Demand for nannies picked up in August as parents planned for many a care and support year for a distant school year, Lubin said.
"The industry is returning, but for well-trained nannies," who can act as tutors and teachers, Lubin said. "Even the jobs that came back came back for those who probably didn't have to struggle anyway."
Back in New Mexico, so much has changed for Hernandez de Ramirez since March. However, one thing isn't the case: the wear and tear associated with managing your finances and saving time for you and your employees.
"It has been the same since those early, scary days … We are still very concerned and concerned about our health and the protection of others," she said.