Pandemic Hitting Small Businesses, Hourly Workers Hard: 'I'm Scared'
Unemployment claims are pandemic. The number of Americans affected by these closures is staggering; some experts say 7 million people could lose their jobs between April and June, and the unemployment rate could shoot up to nearly 9 percent by later this year., as businesses shut their doors during this
For many, it's unclear just how long the economy, and their livelihoods, will be paralyzed by this outbreak.
Greg Fletcher and his business partners spent two years preparing to open Axe & Arrow Brewery in Glassboro, New Jersey. Now, just two weeks away from their one-year anniversary, the business is facing an uncertain future.
"There's a real threat to a lot of small businesses," said Fletcher. "We're paycheck-to-paycheck, week-to-week. That revenue has to come in, and if it doesn't, it's problematic."
Fletcher said they have a small cash reserve, and their customers are still able to pick up beer "to go."
When CBS News national correspondent Jericka Duncan talked to him Sunday afternoon, he'd only made two sales that day – one during their interview.
Duncan asked, "How scary is that for you?"
"Ah, it's, it's worrying. Yeah, I mean if this obviously extends out into three weeks, it's not going to be enough to cover all of our expenses," Fletcher said.
He's stopped scheduling his four part-time employees, as businesses around the country face the same tough decisions.
The closures have been especially hard on retail, hospitality, restaurant and travel industries. Roughly 82 million people – three-fifths of the U.S. workforce – are hourly employees. Most won't be paid if they don't work.
Konica Rice worked at Johns Hopkins University as a cook, but is now out of a job. "I'm scared," she said.
Rice said she makes 65 percent less on unemployment compared to her regular pay. She said it's not enough to support her three children.
"What I get in unemployment is just enough to survive on a daily basis right now," she said.
Kelli and Nathan (who asked us not to use their last names) decided to leave New York City to move in with family in Virginia. Nathan lost his job as a coordinator for a non-profit, and Kelli's job in retail e-commerce was furloughed without pay.
"It's all very uncertain, at this point," said Kelli (who is Jericka Duncan's cousin). "But yeah, you know, if and when I get a call to come back to work, I will be there without a doubt."
Also to consider with the loss of jobs: More than 18 million people are currently paying at least half of their income on housing, so missing a paycheck could mean they won't be able to pay the rent or mortgage. Some cities have implemented a moratorium on evictions. Experts suggest talking to your landlord and finding a way to delay payments if you find yourself in that situation.