For 70 percent of U.S. workers, uncertain financial stability and the concept of living paycheck-to-paycheck were an uneasy reality even before COVID-19 reared its disruptive head in early 2020. Add on a deadly global pandemic, and those workers are now fighting a much bigger, more existential battle, both for themselves, their families, their financial stability and their communities.
For Americans living paycheck-to-paycheck, it’s difficult to imagine a more destructive development. On Tuesday, September 1, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finally issued a nationwide order temporarily halting rental evictions through the end of the year in a bid to reduce the spread of the coronavirus and aid the financial stability of those affected.
While those federal orders are a temporary financial stability respite for our nation’s 43 million renters, it still doesn’t solve how they’re supposed to bridge the income gap and pay what they owe when the time comes. Such workers struggling from layoffs or furloughs need accessible and responsible income shortage loans to see themselves and their families through this troubling time in history.
Workers deemed low-wage and lacking financial stability are employed in positions that are at high risk for loss of income. Unemployment filings throughout the COVID-19 crisis reflect most claims are for workers who had been previously employed in service industries, specifically food and travel sectors. Industries that followed lean toward the retail, wholesale trade and construction sectors. Workers in those industries are more likely to be lower-wage, marginally employed, or likely to struggle with financial stability.
Remember, the risks low-wage earners face are not simply financial. Depending on the specific job, the health risks associated with the particular position may be significant. Common occupations for low-wage workers include cashiers, salespeople, grocery clerks, cooks and waiters. Working for tips for a business deemed an “essential service” may seem to some to be a small reward for the increased risk in contracting COVID-19. If these workers who are already suffering deep financial hardship somehow contract COVID-19, the consequences may be insurmountable and financial stability unattainable.
The ALICE Program In Financial Stability Aid
The current situation with COVID-19 and its direct effect on the working poor adds an even more challenging wrinkle. An enlightening initiative by The United Way, its ALICE program or “Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed,” represents a new way of defining and understanding the struggles of households that earn above the Federal Poverty level, but not enough to afford a bare-bones household budget.
In the situation millions of Americans find themselves in, the swift spread of COVID-19 is exposing critical deficiencies in our traditional health care and education systems. ALICE households are particularly susceptible to illness and financial disruption and often lack financial stability. A full third of U.S. families with children (38 percent) have income below the ALICE threshold. Individuals over 60 years of age are most at risk for COVID-19, while seniors relying on Social Security and Medicare are also financially exposed. And to bring it back around, nursing homes are dependent on ALICE workers to provide regular care critical to the health and comfort of seniors. Vulnerable patients suffer if ALICE workers get sick and can’t work. It’s yet another vicious cycle brought on by the effects of COVID-19.
QCash Financial’s Initiative
QCash Financial has described through our recent, “5 Pillars of Financial Health,” campaign the first step on the path to financial stability and wellness lies in getting one’s head above water through affordable, responsible borrowing. QCash Financial’s automated, mobile lending program provides your credit union with the opportunity to lift up your community members, some of whom may lie within the ALICE threshold, and provide the income shortage loans necessary to afford the time to determine the best steps ahead.
For more information on QCash Financial’s small-dollar lending or financial wellness service, feel free to contact us here.