When the COVID19 pandemic hit, the world almost came to a grinding halt. The magnitude of the economic upheaval it caused was similar to what the USA experienced during the Great Depression.
With government-enforced lockdowns, many industries were affected. To cope, companies chose to either scale back operations, reduce salaries temporarily or just cut their losses and shut down.
Those in the higher, upper-income brackets and those already classified as "poor" pre-pandemic did not feel any significant economic changes. However, the middle class was greatly affected, with many of them finding themselves suddenly below the poverty line. Many lost their jobs and homes and their dignity and sense of self-worth.
Food banks sprung up all over the country, including California, one of the wealthiest states. As the pandemic wore on, it was not unusual to see many cars line up to get a week's supply of food for free. However, what was unexpected were the many luxury cars also in line, such as BMWs and even a Tesla, proving that the pandemic crippled everything and everyone financially.
The hardest hit by the pandemic were people who worked in the food industry. Restaurants had to close, affecting food suppliers such as dairy farmer Paul from Wisconsin. He has decided to sell his farm to pay debts and retire after losing almost 40% of his revenues. In Texas, Mark and Celine also struggle to pay their rent and bills while raising their four young children. They invested all their money in a restaurant that was only six months old when the pandemic began. They've pretty much lost everything and might soon lose their home.
Those working in customer service and construction also felt the pinch since Covid froze these industries. When Trump-sanctioned eviction moratoriums expired, employees like Tonica Mills, who works in customer experience, had to ask for government handouts in court to prevent getting evicted. Meanwhile, Kirsin Eiland, a construction company assistant, was evicted outright and is now homeless.
Oil moguls and even management and business executives were not safe either. A 67-year-old, 3rd generation Texas oil baron, Karl Beach, had to shut his rigs down. He is considering selling some of his wells since the demand has been so low during lockdown for air and car travel. Sales executive Stephen - who was earning up to a hundred thousand dollars a month in commissions and his wife Anita, who worked in research, lost their home and job because of Covid19. They are currently living in their car with their dog.
It remains to be seen just how long middle-class Americans will have to continue dealing with job uncertainty and all the stress that situation brings. What is clear is that more support is needed to resolve job instability and help people cope mentally.
Directed by: Kristell Bernaud, Matthieu Fauroux