Lockdowns are ‘sacrifices’ largely being made by low income workers and small businesses

Yesterday the Minnesota Department of Economic Development released data detailing Minnesota’s unemployment situation for December. And according to the data, Minnesota lost almost 50,000 jobs in December. These job losses mostly occurred in the hospitality sector which faced stricter Covid-19 restrictions all through the month of December. Our declining unemployment was unfortunately due to people leaving the workforce.

Unfortunately, this has been a recurring trend in this state. Too often we have seen health practitioners as well as other state leaders calling for lockdowns as soon as cases go up. And just like that, multiple people lose jobs as businesses permanently close, shutdown temporarily, or scale down their operations.

Who never gets affected, however, are the leaders pushing for these lockdowns. But another group that seems well off is high-income people that can work from home. Just recently, Morning Consult published results from a survey describing how people of different demographics fared due to the lockdowns. The survey asked respondents to say whether they had seen an improvement or worsening situation in 7 aspects of their life namely; mental health, personal finances, job security, take-home pay, physical health, personal life, and work-life balance.

One thing to note about these results is that individuals making over $100k living and in urban areas saw almost all the areas of their life improve. On the other hand, rural, suburban and low-income individuals saw a worsening situation in about all of their surveyed areas of life.

When it comes to gender, women, unlike men, faced a worsening condition in all the areas of their life. Women have been disproportionately affected by shutdowns potentially due to 2 main reasons: (1) women are concentrated in the service sector which was bombarded by shutdowns (2) women were significantly affected by the closure of childcare centers as well as school and had to leave the workforce or take on more care duties, in addition to work, potentially affecting their life.

Not all of us are making sacrifices

Describing the recent decline in Minnesota’s labor force participation rate, DEED commissioner Steve Grove likened shutdowns to a sacrifice that businesses and individuals have had to make due to rising coronavirus cases. This is the idea that has been largely sprung around by most of our leaders; the idea that ‘we are all in this together’ and ‘we all have to make a sacrifice’. Speaking after the December restrictions, for instance, Governor Walz praised Minnesotans for making a sacrifice,

Minnesotans’ sacrifice and commitment to their communities helped change the pandemic’s trajectory and saved lives. Yesterday we cautiously adjusted the dials to help Minnesotans return to important elements of their daily lives, and we continue to monitor where we stand.

Looking at the data, however, this can not be further from the truth. We are all not in this together, at least, in the way that matters the most. And we are not all making the sacrifices, especially not our politicians. It is, instead, our most disadvantaged workers that are continuously bearing the brunt of this human-created recession at the promise of benefits that are nonexistent.