What if we keep working from home?

Good depiction of some of the issues, including increased inequality:

Millions of Canadians are now well into their second year of working from home. As the COVID-19 pandemic hit, non-essential employees began working from their couches, kitchens and bedrooms, hopping virtually from one endless video meeting to another. What began as a temporary arrangement, however, will likely change the way we do our jobs permanently: working from home has its challenges, but it has enough upsides that both workers and employers may be reluctant to go back to the old ways. If this happens, we must ensure that this shift does not widen workplace inequalities.

Not all workers are equally likely to have been working from home during the pandemic. The shift was easier for people with office jobs, for instance, than for those in retail. Workers with permanent, full-time, higher-paid jobs are also more likely than those with less secure, lower-paid positions to have been working from home. This is the first way in which the change has exacerbated inequality within Canadian society: more economically vulnerable workers also ended up more vulnerable to the virus owing to their need to be physically present at work. All Canadians have been urged to stay at home as much as possible during the pandemic, but their ability to do so is in large part a function of the types of jobs that they hold.

For many who made the transition from office desk to the kitchen table, the experience has generally been positive – perhaps surprisingly so. In our recent survey, more than three in five agree that working from home has been easier than expected, and they say they like working from home better than their regular workplace. The same proportion even say that working remotely has been less stressful than working in the office. So far, so good.

At the same time, more than two in five express concerns about juggling work and family responsibilities while working from home – they feel like they are constantly working and never have time for themselves or their families. One in three find it impossible to do their job well while working from home.

It will shock no one that these stresses are most acutely experienced by parents of young children. Three in five of those caring for young children say they worry that they can’t be a good parent and be good at their job at the same time while working from home.

Younger workers, immigrants, racialized people, Indigenous workers and workers with a physical or mental condition that limits their daily activity are also more likely to experience challenges working from home. Most notably, each of these groups is more likely than average to worry that working from home will have a negative impact on their career. These workers may be less securely employed, and therefore more concerned about the longer-term consequences of being physically distant from their workplaces.

What’s notable, though, is that many of those experiencing challenges with working from home nonetheless feel positive about the arrangement overall. In fact, seven in 10 of those who have been working at home say that once the pandemic is over, their employer should continue to allow them to work remotely at least a few days a week. Clearly, workers are likely to expect greater flexibility from employers from now on.

All of this puts the onus to act back on employers and policy makers alike. It is not enough to pick up on the current zeitgeist and consider offering more flexible working arrangements once all lockdowns have been lifted. This experience should bring with it an obligation to ensure that new arrangements do not simply place further disadvantages on those already less connected to the centres of power.

Coming out of the events of the past year, we must renew our resolve to tackle persistent inequalities. This includes confronting the higher risks faced by front-line workers, the bigger challenges for those combining work and family responsibilities, and the greater barriers facing minority groups. New working arrangements will need new infrastructure, new policies, new supports, new ways of thinking about work and new skills for both employee and managers. These changes must now be made, not only in the context of physical offices and places of business, but in virtual ones as well.

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/commentary/article-what-if-we-keep-working-from-home/

What Does Vaccine Inequality Look Like? See Chart

In addition to inequalities within and between Western countries, not to forget the global ones:

Earlier this month, Namibia’s president Hage Geingob was invited to join the WHO’s weekly press briefing to talk about World Health Day. The idea was for him to help explain to the hundreds of reporters from around the world what was happening with COVID immunization efforts in his southern African nation.

In what has become all too common during the pandemic, the video connection was unstable. The Namibian president kept freezing on the screen. The audio would become muffled and incomprehensible, or the sound would drop out entirely.

Then at times there would be bursts of clarity. “It is COVID apartheid!” Geingob shouted.

“We already made our deposit!” He insisted. It became clear that the president was using his time not to speak to the press but to harangue WHO officials in the room to finally deliver the vaccine doses he’d already paid for through COVAX. That’s the WHO-led initiative to procure and equitably distribute vaccines, particularly for low- and middle-income nations.

“We have made the advance payment but there is this exclusion. COVID apartheid is now prevailing,” he said, comparing the inequity in global access to vaccines to the South African Apartheid system that divided the country along racial lines and trapped millions of Black Africans in poverty.

“Up until now, we didn’t get any,” he said of the vaccines Namibia has ordered. The few hundred doses that Namibia has been able to secure is “only because our good friends, China and India, gave us vaccines.”

So far Namibia has given fewer than 3,000 COVID jabs. This is a fraction of what a mass vaccination site in the U.S., like the Javits Center in New York City, administers every day.

In the United States nearly 40% of the population has now gotten at least one dose of a vaccine. In Namibia less than 0.1% of the population has gotten a shot.

The U.S. has administered more COVID vaccinations in to arms than any other country in the world. Ingrid Katz, the associate faculty director at the Harvard Global Health Institute, says the U.S. is now in “somewhat rarified air” in the global vaccination effort. “There are a few other nations out there who are with us.” Globally just 2.3% of the world’s population is now fully vaccinated. In Africa it’s fewer than 1%.

“It you look at the data globally,” Katz says. “You’ll see that about 75% of the vaccines have gone to only 10 countries globally. There’s massive, massive inequality.”

The countries that have managed to get a lot of people vaccinated — the U.S., the U.K., India — all happen to have manufacturing plants that are producing the vaccines. They also have had export restrictions which meant their own citizens have been at the front of the line to get immunized. Important regional players such as South Africa have fully vaccinated only ½ of 1% of their population. In the Philippines it’s less than 0.1%. Even wealthy nations in Europe such as Germany, Spain, Italy and France haven’t yet gotten above 7%.

Katz says this is no way to tackle a global health crisis. “If we assume that it’s fine just to vaccinate American citizens but no one else in the world, we’re going to be in big trouble,” she says.

Katz had a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine. In it she and her colleagues calculated that based on the vaccination rates happening globally at the end of March, it would take 4.6 years for the planet to reach herd immunity against SARS-CoV-2. Since then the number of shots being given each week has increased.

“But we’re still talking years. It’s not going to be months,” until this pandemic is under control, she says. And if the virus continues to spread and mutate for several more years, there’s a good chance that a variant could emerge to which the vaccines provide no protection.

At that point the U.S. would be in no better position than a country that hadn’t vaccinated at all.

Getting the whole world immunized “is an investment in our own self-interest,” Katz says.

Source: What Does Vaccine Inequality Look Like? See Chart

Korea: Migrant women call for ‘Equal pay for equal work’

Of note:

Hundreds of female migrant workers employed at government-run facilities are suffering discrimination and unfair treatment, according to a recent survey by Hope Center with Migrant Workers, a civic group based in Seoul.

The survey results were revealed on Wednesday at a discussion session held by the Women Migrants Human Rights Center of Korea ahead of International Migrants Day which falls on Dec. 18.

About 80 percent of the 403 respondents working as interpreters, counselors and bilingual tutors stated that they have experienced discrimination such as unequal payment, limited promotion opportunities and unrecognized work experience.

“I’ve been working as an interpreter at a multicultural family support center for 13 years, during which I have never received holiday bonuses or extra pay for meal costs that are obviously provided to my Korean coworkers,” a marriage migrant was quoted as saying by the civic group. She requested anonymity.

“I don’t understand why I am paid less than my colleagues although we are given similar tasks. It’s hard to imagine that a state-run facility aimed at improving multicultural awareness openly discriminates employees by their nationality,” said another migrant woman with five years of work experience at the support center.

According to the data provided by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family in October, bilingual tutors at public schools earn around 26.3 million won ($24,100) yearly, and interpreters working at multicultural support centers earn an average of 25.6 million won ― roughly 66 percent of the average annual salary of employees at the centers, which stood at 34.2 million won.

The civic group pointed out that the lack of details on wage guidelines has widened the payment gap.

The wage guidelines set by the ministry only state that interpreters and counselors should be paid “over the minimum wages,” whereas the specific manuals for Korean employees guarantee a yearly pay raise and chances for promotion based on their consecutive years of employment.

The survey also found that 91 percent of the migrant women experienced weak job security as their employment is based on temporary contracts of 10 months or one year. Also, 67 percent of the women have experienced workplace bullying such as verbal abuse and insults towards their home country.

“These issues, which have not been properly addressed for years, have turned into long-term systemic discrimination. Even the latest support measures from the gender ministry failed to reflect the realities in the workplace,” Wang Ji-yeon, head of the Migrant Women Association in Korea, told The Korea Times.

“What we need is improved job quality, not increased quantities of vacancies,” she said, regarding the ministry’s recent announcement to increase the number of interpreters in multicultural family support centers to 312 next year from the current 282.

She demanded an overhaul on the employment system; hiring qualified migrant women to full-time positions through proper recruitment procedures and providing education programs for their career development, as well as standardized wage guidelines.

“The current multicultural policies are mainly centered on family lives of migrant women, lacking support for their social activities. The government should recognize their capabilities and contributions to the country, and come up with better measures for them to be accepted as members of our society,” said Hwang Jeong-mi, a researcher at the Institute for Gender Research at Seoul National University.

Source: Migrant women call for ‘Equal pay for equal work’

How race, income and ‘opportunity hoarding’ will shape Canada’s back-to-school season

Good long read on how the impact of COVID-19 will likely increase inequality further:

Two weeks before vice-principal Brandon Zoras was to welcome a group of students back to the classrooms at Toronto’s Westview Centennial Secondary School, a message appeared in his LinkedIn inbox from a stranger.

“Hi Brandon, hope you are doing well! I am looking for an experienced TDSB Grade 11 chemistry tutor to coach my son online only (due to social distancing) – to start right away. Please let me know if that is something you (or someone you know) can help my son with. Best regards.”

Irritated, Mr. Zoras groaned and deleted it without replying.

Westview has one of the largest Black student populations in the country and sits in the northwest corridor of Toronto, which has become the epicentre for COVID-19 infections. Many students live in cramped housing, have parents who are essential workers and rely on public transit to get around, all things that contribute to the high infection rate – which is 10 times that of the least-infected parts of the city. The average annual income for residents in the area is $27,984 – half of what it is for Toronto as a whole.

“It makes my heart hurt for the families who can’t afford a tutor or who can’t afford all these additional things,” said Mr. Zoras, a science educator.

Since he began working as an educator 11 years ago, he has seen the way public education funding has been diminished, how families in the system have found ways to privatize parts of their children’s schooling to get what they want. Education advocates say those efforts are making things less equitable for everyone else.

Every year, parents across the country lobby to get their children into advanced-placement classes, buy houses in neighbourhoods that will give them access to coveted schools and fundraise on the school council to bring in technology and high-level arts programming.

Now, with the return to school amidst a global pandemic, those efforts to secure the best for their children, known in sociology as “opportunity hoarding,” have become more overt. The confidence many had in the public-education system has been ripped apart because of reopening plans and it seems no amount of fundraising, private meetings with principals or school council strategizing can bring about the changes many are seeking for a safe return to school.

The result is some of the most privileged public-school families are opting for distance education, hiring personal tutors and forming private learning pods – decisions that are ostensibly made in the best interests of their children, but which will likely cause major rifts across race and class. Those in lower-income communities are also choosing remote learning because they have elderly relatives living with them who are vulnerable to getting sick, they feel a heightened threat from COVID-19 because they are in areas with the highest infection rates and the buildings in which they live pose challenges to getting to school on time in a pandemic.

That families on both ends of the socio-economic spectrum are opting for remote learning exposes cracks that already existed in the system. There’s a threat the most privileged will pull out to customize their own education since they can afford to, while others who are fearful of sending their children back to school but cannot pay for private help are becoming test subjects for a new realm of online learning. As plans are pulled together haphazardly, there’s a concern the divide will deepen.

This week, school boards in Toronto, Peel Region and Halton Region released the results of parent surveys that show a sizable portion of students will not be in classes this fall: 30 per cent of elementary and 22 per cent of high school students for Toronto; 33 per cent combined for Peel; and 29 per cent elementary and 15 per cent high school for Halton. A portion of households didn’t respond and school staff will be reaching out to them directly, which could change these figures.

At Thorncliffe Park Public School, in a community that has long been a landing pad for newcomers and where the median household income is $46,595, 38 per cent of families surveyed say they’ll do remote learning this fall.

Munira Khilji, a mother of two in Thorncliffe Park, said many parents she knows chose this option because they live in high-rises and don’t want to endure waits of an hour or longer just to take the elevator while pandemic-related capacity limits are in place – and they worry about physical distancing in such a cramped space.

The issue is most apparent in Ontario, where families have been given a clear choice between in-person and remote learning, but it’s forcing a reckoning in many other parts of the country. In Alberta, 28 per cent of students in Edmonton’s public school board have chosen remote learning. In British Columbia, Education Minister Rob Fleming has said that school districts have the flexibility to provide remote learning options, but there is confusion among parents and school officials as to what that will mean and whether students will remain enrolled in their home schools.

“What COVID has done once again is expose the stark inequities in our system and the realities that families in marginalized communities have to navigate,” said Jeewan Chanicka, the former superintendent of equity, anti-racism and anti-oppression at the Toronto District School Board. “These families also know that their communities are going to be hit the hardest. They are behaving in a way where they’re trying to save their children’s lives.”

Some worry the shift out of the classroom could have devastating long-term consequences: If parents come to appreciate the increased attention their child gets from a teacher in a pod with just four other students, they might opt to continue this post-pandemic and permanently withdraw from a system whose funding is determined by head count.

“Where I worry a bit is in particular for those of privilege; if they’re pulling their children out, whether or not they will return to public education, I don’t know,” Mr. Chanicka said. “My hope is that yes, this is a blip because of the pandemic.”

COVID-19 has presented an opportunity to rethink how Canada operates homeless shelters and long-term care – will the same be true for schools, or will navigating the pandemic only further fracture the system?

Before Marty Menard even had a daughter, he and his wife had done their homework on which school they wanted her to attend. Wortley Road Public School in London, Ont., a well-regarded K-8 school known for its small student population and very involved parent community, stood out. When Mr. Menard’s wife was in her third trimester, they bought a house in Wortley Village, which the Canadian Institute of Planners dubbed the best neighbourhood in Canada in 2013, so they’d be in the catchment area for the school they determined was their first and only choice.

In his daughter’s second year there, Mr. Menard enthusiastically joined many of the various parent committees and even became co-chair of the school council, helping organize fundraisers, the breakfast program and cultural celebrations.

When schools shut down in mid-March, Mr. Menard turned to a private tutoring program to offer his daughter an hour of instruction a day and also found a few hours each week to use online resources from the Khan Academy to help boost her development. But after a few months, his daughter said she was lonely and Mr. Menard knew this couldn’t continue into September. A learning pod seemed like the best solution: The risk of his daughter being exposed to the novel coronavirus would be lower than it might be in a packed classroom, but she would still enjoy social interaction. On social media, he found a few other parents and a provincially certified teacher who will lead the pod, but is struggling to find a space that will host them without greatly increasing the costs, which he estimates will be about $500 to $750 a month.

With school already under way in some provinces and just a few weeks away in others, the scramble to clear those logistical hurdles has sent plenty of parents who have chosen the same option as Mr. Menard into a frenzy.

As August wore on, the panic among parents in the Learning Pods – Canada Facebook group was palpable. Thousands from Vancouver Island to Halifax, but mostly in Ontario, had flocked to the group to find others in their neighbourhood to pod up with, to find a teacher to hire, or to share their story about turning to this option to protect an immunocompromised member of their family.

They solicited advice on everything from costs (“Can folks share how much is a reasonable salary to offer a teacher for a pod of four?” asked one mom in Hamilton) to insurance (“My insurance company approved extended insurance for each child in my pod. They will not cover communicable disease transmission. Has anyone else figured out how to get around this? Co-op among parents to share the responsibility? Corporation to reduce risk?” wrote another in Waterloo, Ont.). Some pods will rotate between a group of households where parents share teaching duties; others will be situated in rented spaces with lots of technology and resources provided and come with a cost of up to a few thousand dollars a month.

On and offline, the conversation on learning pods often leads to bigger questions of equity: are they classist? Do they further the divide between the haves and the have nots? Shouldn’t parents with enough privilege to put their children in a learning pod harness it to lobby the government to make classrooms safe for all children?

Those debates have arisen in Mr. Menard’s own marriage. He describes himself as a “lefty” and a proponent of the public school system, which he says has been steadily defunded for years – but still, he and his wife have decided that given the pandemic and the government’s plans, this is the best option for his family.

“Nothing is going to marginalize kids more than people like me who could afford a learning pod,” he says. “The bottom line as a parent is I still have to put my kid’s interests above every other point of view or political point of view that I have.”

It’s a rationale sociologist Margaret Hagerman encountered again and again when she spent time with affluent white families in the American Midwest as part of research for her book White Kids: Growing Up with Privilege in a Racially Divided America. She observed a phenomenon she dubs “the conundrum of privilege”: Parents who identify as progressives, who care about equity, who may have taken their children to the climate strike or hung up a Black Lives Matter poster in their window, don’t think twice about what it means to give their children advantages that others don’t have access to. They want to raise their children in a just society, but they’ve used their privilege to work against that very goal.

“I think we need to reconfigure what we mean when we say we are doing the best for our child or being the best parent,” she said. “I don’t actually think that advocating for your own kid when that harms other people is the best version of anything.”

When parents talk about the gifts they want to give their children for the future, she likes to challenge them: “Don’t you want your kid to live in a society with less racial violence and with less inequality and social conflict and social problems and suffering?” she asks. “If you could do things now that would provide that different future for your child and the other children around him, it’s kind of philosophical, but I just think that that’s a compelling argument.”

While some who have opted for pods defend their choice with the argument that this will make classrooms less populous and therefore safer for students who do attend in person, the net effect isn’t the reduced class sizes parents, epidemiologists and public health experts have recommended. Rather, classes will be combined and likely grow in size because the government has not funded lower class sizes.

In Edmonton, the city’s public school board said nearly 29,000 students, or roughly 28 per cent of its entire enrolment, had opted for online learning as of Wednesday, though the board stressed that those numbers could change. To accommodate them, it has assigned 775 teachers to those online students. The board has hired an additional 100 teachers on temporary contracts, but board chair Trisha Estabrooks said the shift has meant decreased in-class enrolment hasn’t led to a decrease in class sizes.

“Even though we have 30 per cent of our students choosing to learn online, the reality is that doesn’t decrease the overall class size either, because we also need to have teachers in place to teach those online cohorts,” said Ms. Estabrooks, who acknowledged that in many classrooms, physical distancing is difficult, if not impossible.

Atiba Ralph, a single Black father, said he has heard so far that all of his daughter’s friends will return to in-person classes this fall; he hadn’t even heard of learning pods but said they sounded like “a pretty smart idea,” albeit one that was out of reach for him.

“It probably happened with the people that are in a higher tax bracket,” he said. “I have a little bit more financial problems.”

The COVID-19 threat is present every time he steps out of his apartment in Toronto: He lives in the Jane and Finch area, one of the most-infected in the city, and knows of two Black people – one a neighbour of his mother, another a friend of a friend – who died of COVID-19 earlier this year. Public health data collected by the city from mid-May to mid-July showed Black people had the highest share of COVID-19 infections.

Recognizing that some neighbourhoods have been much harder hit than others by COVID-19, the Toronto District School Board is directing extra funds and capping class sizes at abo

ut 80 schools in those areas, most of which are in the northwest corner of the city.

Alice Romo, an education advocate with the Latinx, Afro-Latin-America, Abya Yala Education Network, says she worries about the way children from low-income neighbourhoods will fall behind this year if they are educated at home: They’ll be less engaged, it will be more difficult for them to finish their homework and, crucially, many will miss out on all the non-academic parts of school that keep low-income communities afloat, such as breakfast and lunch programs.

“We’re definitely going to see this a few years down the road. There will be more of an inequality gap,” she said.

Those who withdraw from the system may think the decision only affects their household, “the more you shift the role of education towards families and away from public schools, the more inequality you’re going to have,” says Andrew Franklin-Hall, a philosophy professor at the University of Toronto who studies ethics.

For some students, school might be the only environment where they are exposed to peers from diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds; in a learning pod, just like in a private school, opportunities for that exposure are limited.

“When parents are suddenly forced to make this kind of decision, naturally they turn to the resources they have, which is their own friends, their own community,” he said. “This is not the sort of thing that people feel comfortable articulating, because they don’t want to say, ’Well, I don’t trust the people who are different than me or I don’t trust the people who aren’t as well off or have a different race.’”

Before the pandemic forced a crisis in the education system, many school boards had committed to addressing systemic racism and inequity by re-evaluating programs, such as French immersion (which attracts a higher proportion of affluent, white students) and streaming (which routinely put Black children on a path to applied courses, which limit their options after graduation), that have disadvantaged students from low-income and racialized communities. Now with educators focused on the basics of opening schools, reimagining the system seems impractical, if not impossible.

In June, Stephanie Brembridge, a Black mother in Toronto whose son attends a public Catholic school, reached out to the school principal to ask whether she could add an item to the agenda for the next parent council meeting of the year: She wanted to discuss what the predominantly white school could do to better help Black and Indigenous students succeed.

Her faith in the school had already been tested. Her son, Trusten, had been suspended several times – once for apparently saying “an inappropriate word” – though the school was never able to tell Ms. Brembridge what that word was. With the help of an advocacy group that works with Black parents, she was able to get a few of those suspensions overturned (data collected at school boards across the country show that Black students are suspended and expelled at a disproportionate rate).

When it came time for the parent council meeting, which was held over Zoom, Ms. Brembridge noticed her item was at the very end of the agenda. She grew anxious as an hour and a half flew by, while the other parents (all but one of them were white) discussed which teachers were retiring, how they might safely plan a social function in the summer and other matters Ms. Brembridge believed to be far less pressing than hers.

“Okay, I think that’s it,” someone said, ready to adjourn the meeting. Ms. Brembridge, surprised, unmuted her microphone and reminded them she still hadn’t spoken. She was told she had three minutes and could see parents starting to leave the chat. “I‘m not going speak until I can get everybody’s full attention,” she said. Her item was moved to the agenda for the next meeting – three months later, in September.

As a teacher in Toronto, Kelly Iggers has been exposed to the type of parental advocacy that’s aimed at “achieving supports that will benefit one’s own child.” When she learned Ontario’s back-to-school plan, released in late July, would not include reduced class sizes, she started a petition arguing in favour of them that netted more than 250,000 signatures across the province and evolved into a campaign with parents, educators, doctors and others discussing and planning in closed groups, including a WhatsApp chat.

“This issue of advocating for a safe and equitable return to school, it’s not about advocating for one’s own community or one’s own child,” she said. “This only works if we’re advocating for something that’s going to support everyone.”

This moment of reckoning in Ontario comes at a time when Alberta is moving toward a model that could heighten class and race disparities within the public system. For now, it’s the only province to have charter schools, which are independently run, non-profit public schools that have a greater degree of autonomy than a normal public school, allowing them to create programming that’s only for girls, or for the academically gifted.

Earlier this week, the Choice in Education Act took effect that, among other things, makes it easier to apply for and create a charter school. Now, a group wanting to establish a new charter school can bypass the local school board and apply directly to the government.

Calgary mom Dallas Hall’s son started Grade 4 last month at Connect Charter School after switching from a local public school. Ms. Hall said she likes the type of education he’s receiving, which includes experiential learning and outdoor learning. She also said the school has less bureaucracy than a traditional public school system – the same features that are making private school or learning pods an attractive option for parents elsewhere. Ms. Hall likes the idea of parents having choice in education. “They should have a voice. Their voice should be welcome,” she said.

Ms. Iggers said she didn’t want to vilify parents who are choosing private options, but says this shift out of the classroom has the potential to cause long-term damage.

“It’s prompting families with the means to do so to leave the system,” she said. And when they leave, “they [take] with them what are often the most powerful voices to advocate for a properly funded education system.”

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-how-race-income-and-opportunity-hoarding-will-shape-canadas-back/

Which workers are being hit hardest by the COVID-19 lockdown? These 6 graphics paint a stark picture of Canadian inequality

Good analysis and series of charts (go to article link for charts) by Mikal Skuterud showing the different groups most affected:

The COVID-19 lockdown is proving to be a “highly unequal economic shock,” hitting not only low-wage hourly workers the hardest, but also women in non-unionized jobs, according to an analysis of Statistics Canada labour force data by Waterloo professor of economics Mikal Skuterud.

The data also shows women with small children are losing more hours of work, compared to those with older kids, and that self-employed workers, who include small business owners, are feeling the pinch much more than employees in the private or public sector.

Skuterud says many of those jobs may be lost forever and the impact of those losses will widen the gap between the “haves” and the “have nots.”

This recession “has hit lower income people and families, more than people like me,” says Skuterud, who continues to work from home. “It’s been very unequal. And that’s a concern.

“The question is what’s this going to do to inequality.”

By his estimates, three to five million workers in Canada have been affected and Skuterud believes many of those people will not go back to the jobs they once did.

“People are going to have to move and find jobs in other sectors, and maybe these are sectors where they don’t have the skills they need,” says Skuterud. “All of this is going to become a big issue coming forward.”

Skuterud’s analysis is based on Statistics Canada’s labour force survey from April. The survey, of up to 60,000 people, is done each month online or by phone. Like the census, participation is mandatory under the Statistics Act.

Not your traditional recession

Typically, recessions come from the demand side of the market, says Skuterud. Consumers stop buying goods, companies don’t need to produce as much and, when production slows down, they lay off workers.

In the COVID-19 crisis, workers were told to stay home practically overnight.

And instead of the typical job losses in manufacturing and construction, the initial economic shock is happening in jobs where people have human interactions, says Skuterud.

A lot of those jobs are in the lower-wage service and retail industry, with lower hourly wages, where the workforce is predominantly female, he says.

“The financial crisis of 2008 didn’t happen overnight. It just wasn’t nearly the same magnitude, not nearly as many workers were affected as this.”

Non-unionized women hit hardest

The biggest job losses are in areas with human interaction, such as cashiers or any kind of retail. “It’s the type of jobs that women are concentrated in and lower wage workers are concentrated in,” says Skuterud.

Job losses among non-unionized women paid by the hour have been three times larger than among unionized women paid by the hour, such as nurses, says Skuterud.

As a result of the lockdown, women with young children have experienced the biggest loss in total working hours.

“We know from lots of research that caregiving falls on women,” says Skuterud. “For sure that’s what’s happening.”

Women in science have complained of not being able to work as much as their male counterparts during the pandemic and, in the university environment, Skuterud has noticed a bigger decrease in the number of academic papers from women compared to men.

He says it’s critical to address child care when we begin to turn the corner.

How families are faring

In general, recessions hurt families more than individuals, often because spouses work in the same sector and layoffs affect both spouses.

Skuterud says that’s not happening this time around, although the percentage of couples who’ve both lost their jobs went up from February to April this year.

In “this recession, the effect at the individual level has been massive,” he says.

Self-employed workers

Hours on the job for self-employed workers dropped by nearly 50 per cent between mid-February and mid-April, and private sector workers experienced a higher proportion of job losses.

“There are a lot of self-employed people: marginal business owners, workers in the gig economy, people driving Ubers,” says Skuterud. “These people have really been hit hard.”

“Going forward it will be interesting to see how many people move into self-employment,” he says. “And not because there’s good opportunity, but because of survival.

“There’s going to be more and more people looking for those jobs just to survive.”

Impact biggest in people who rent

From February to April 2020, a larger proportion of people who rent lost their jobs compared to people who owned their own homes.

It’s another indicator “that the recession has really hit lower income people harder,” says Skuterud. “That’s the bottom line in all of these charts.”

Source: Which workers are being hit hardest by the COVID-19 lockdown? These 6 graphics paint a stark picture of Canadian inequality

The Citizenship Problem | Essay | Zócalo Public Square

While his overall critique of the many inequalities intrinsic to citizenship is largely correct, no discussion of realistic alternatives (because there are none with the exception of the mixed success of the EU).

The more practical approach is to assess individual citizenship policies and practices as to their degree of inclusion or exclusion:

Why do we still cling to citizenship?

Certainly, it’s not required to protect your rights. We live in a world of human rights, where slavery is outlawed, gay people can marry, and thinking for yourself (rather than obedience to authority) is valued. So why, in societies based on the ideal of equal human worth, does citizenship still exist?

Citizenship is typically justified with romantic notions—self-determination, democracy, preservation of values. But at its core, citizenship is little more than a certain legal status within a certain legal system. By defining its rights and privileges as bound to a particular state, citizenship itself violates our cherished idea of equal human worth. Instead, citizenship is most effective at upholding caste systems both within and among nations.

In most cases, citizenship is granted more or less at random, based on where your family was from, or where you were raised. Public authorities grant citizenship; the actual citizen typically has no participation in the decision. Once granted, citizenship cannot be refused—or changed before obtaining some other citizenship, without the risk of becoming a “stateless” person, deprived of the rights of citizenship anywhere in the world.

Citizenship was created to legally proclaim equality among the haves and have-nots. It did not eliminate socioeconomic inequality; it merely explained it away through the incomplete promise of “one person one vote.” This made extracting obedience from the population easier and drove nationalism. Today, even the most awful political systems boast glorified citizenships.

For most of its history, citizenship has been useful for a very ugly reason. Citizenship allows us to ignore the basic tenets of the enlightenment—the presumption that humans are equal—without real argument. It is enough to say “She is not a citizen” to justify excluding someone from rights, entitlements, and respect.

For most of its history, citizenship has been useful for a very ugly reason. Citizenship allows us to ignore the basic tenets of the enlightenment—the presumption that humans are equal—without real argument. It is enough to say “She is not a citizen” to justify excluding someone from rights, entitlements and respect.

Citizenship, thus, can divide as much as it unites. We see that in the U.S. with DACA kids, the Dreamers, who are threatened with being thrown out of their home country because they lack citizenship. And America is not alone. Citizenship divides not only people within a nation, but confers unequal status based on the privileged status of some nations over others. Think of those who possess the all-entitling super-citizenships of nations of the global north, versus the limitations against people who come from former colonies—it’s clear that the status quo of citizenship is racist.

Racism is just one of the core building blocks of citizenship; sexism is another, as citizenship was routinely denied to women as well as minorities until well into the 20th century.

Citizenship is at a crossroads now: the dominant narrative that the global equality of human beings can be assured within states is in reality eroding. Different citizenships are not equal, and the allocation of citizenship rights worldwide is neither logical nor clear.
At the macro level, citizenship enables the perpetuation of rigid pre-modern caste structures. The son of an American is an American, and the son of a brahman is a brahman. We do not ask ourselves whether this is just.

To argue for citizenship at a micro level is utterly confounding and contradictory. Being a tenured professor is irrelevant to citizenship in Germany, but was crucial to securing immediate citizenship in Austria until 2008. “Being active in the diaspora” is irrelevant to Austrians, but can make you a Pole. Having a Lebanese mother is irrelevant to Lebanese citizenship, but having a Jewish mother, even without Israeli citizenship, can make you Israeli.

Examples of this disparity in the rules of citizenship are countless: what is taken for granted as best practice in one country can seem almost outrageous in another. But the contradictions should point us to the bigger problem with citizenship: there cannot be a “worse” or a “better” method of assignment to a caste. Any caste system depends on repugnant assumptions and should be intolerable, at least in modern democracies.

All citizenships are described often as equally valuable—even though this assumption is flawed. Equality of different citizenships would only work in a world where authorities could enforce standards of self-fulfillment and personal empowerment in every country. In such a world, citizenship would provide rights, not liabilities.

And in such a glorious world, citizenship would then be irrelevant.

But we live in a world where there are Pakistanis, whose citizenship is a global liability; they must hold a visa to travel to any other country, and hold no settlement rights abroad—and also Norwegians, who enjoy countless rights at home and can settle in more than 40 of the richest democracies without any formalities. In our world, citizenships do not have equal dignity. We are treated differently according to the color of our passport, and citizenship upholds random privilege. Look from Europe across the Mediterranean, or peer from the U.S. across the wall President Trump is building, and you see a world order where punishing randomness and hypocrisy reign.

The quality of our citizenship correlates very neatly with the global distribution of wealth. Most of the world’s people are losers of what prominent scholar Ayelet Shachar called ‘the birthright lottery.’ That is because they are denied the mobility and security that comes with a passport from an economically advanced nation and got their status at random. By controlling the borders between states, citizenship is the most important tool in the world to keep it that way.

Source: The Citizenship Problem | Essay | Zócalo Public Square

Workers have been left to save capitalism from COVID-19

Too early to assess the longer-term impacts but hopefully improvements in wages and working conditions (but experience at meat packing plants not encouraging):

Since the arrival of a novel coronavirus in the United States, workers at Whole Foods have carried out a mass “sickout,” demanding that management provide them not just with masks, but with hazard pay, virus testing and paid leave if they have to self-quarantine. Gig workers at grocery-service Instacart went on strike as well, demanding a pay raise, disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer. Warehouse workers at Amazon facilities in Detroit, Chicago and New York City staged walkouts, demanding that their workplaces be temporarily closed for deep cleaning. And it isn’t just new-economy companies whose workers are concerned for their safety. Bus drivers in Birmingham, Ala., refused to work because of unsafe conditions, and across the country, drivers for Target’s delivery service, fast-food workers and gas-station attendants have all staged walkouts as well.

More than 750 cases of coronavirus, which accounted for roughly half of the confirmed cases in South Dakota last month, were traced to the Smithfield meat processing plant in Sioux Falls, which partly reopened Monday after nearly three weeks of closure. Deemed “essential workers,” which means they must remain on the front lines, most of its employees are immigrants – some 80 languages are spoken at the plant – who make between US$14 and US$16 an hour. According to union representatives speaking to the BBC, workers’ requests for protective clothing, temperature checks and sanitation stations had been ignored, while sick workers were incentivized to remain on the job. It’s a page that might have been ripped out of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle.

Late-stage capitalism, it turns out, still looks an awful lot like it did back in the days of William Blake’s “dark satanic mills.” The consequences are not just morally appalling, but economically unsustainable. The economy cannot stay up and running through the crisis, and it won’t be able to recover over the long term, so long as essential workers don’t have the protections necessary to do their jobs. Capitalists are so oriented to the short term that they don’t realize that workers are the people keeping their factories, companies and the economy, broadly, up and running.

Roughly three in 10 workers have jobs that require physical proximity to their co-workers and close interaction with the people they serve. They are disproportionately women, immigrants and visible minorities.

In what may be the strangest of the many strange turns spurred by the COVID-19 crisis, these front-line workers are telling capitalists what they need to do in order to save their factories, their companies, and themselves. Late capitalism sees these workers not as essential but as dispensable cogs in the machine, as costs to be minimized. Pay is low and working conditions are terrible, as workers are left to fend for themselves when it comes to securing the protective gear they need – if they are even allowed to wear it.

While leading companies, including large profitable ones, shirk their responsibilities to their workers and hence to their customers and society at large, it’s our front-line heroes who are calling this out. Demanding the protective equipment and spacing they need to do their jobs safely will not just protect them, it protects factories and warehouses from becoming hot spots for spread of the virus, and ultimately means production lines, supply chains and delivery systems and stores can all continue to function.

This emerging working-class movement for higher wages, more protective equipment, and better working conditions bears an eerie similarity to the movement of industrial workers that emerged a century ago in the wake of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, when low-paid workers in crowded and dangerous factories organized for higher pay and safer working conditions. Like then, it may take time to bear fruit. That earlier pandemic was immediately followed by the roaring 1920s, which featured horrifying levels of economic inequality that echoed the conditions of today. It took the better part of two or three decades before the labour reforms of the New Deal and the economic mobilization of the Second World War gave rise to the golden era of the 1950s and 1960s, when factory workers finally vaulted into the middle class.

Hopefully, a reinvigorated movement of essential-service and factory workers can garner support from professional and “knowledge” workers, who depend on the products and services that essential workers deliver. What’s clear is that neither our political leaders nor our capitalists are up to the task.

In an irony that would have Marx himself rolling over in his grave: it is workers who may end up saving capitalism from itself.

Corak: COVID-19 is not the great leveller. It’s the great revealer

Great and accurate commentary by Corak:

In a medical sense, COVID-19, as highly contagious as it is, can be thought of as the great leveller. No one has immunity, and we face the health risk of this virus with a sense of our common humanity.

But in a socio-economic sense, it is not as contagious. The jobs some of us hold give us an economic immunity, and we face the economic risk of this virus with a very different sense of our interconnectedness.

Last week Statistics Canada reported that more than one million jobs were lost as social distancing and mandated work shutdowns took force. A further two million people saw their hours of work fall dramatically, implying that over three million Canadians were directly impacted.

The big hope, the hope upon which the entire government response rests, is that the COVID-19 economic shock will be temporary. The goal is to freeze the economy until the winds of illness pass by, allowing us to start again where we left off. Public policy is focused on the challenge of adjustment and rebound.

But Statistics Canada’s look into the socially distanced economy also reveals longstanding inequalities that have been growing wider and wider for decades.

For many families, the bottom end of wage inequality means an insecure standard of living and lower prosperity for the next generation.

The usual economic parable claims that this is the price paid to foster growth, and eventually more prosperity for everyone. We need to adjust to win.

The market has sent a signal: tool up, get better skilled, move elsewhere and move onward. The next and better job is just around the corner!

And after all, if you have a job, even if you need more than one to stay afloat, there is always a sense of hope, a shred of dignity, the aspiration of a better tomorrow. Income inequality is easier to ignore in a full employment economy.

But the great revealer has arrived in the form of a virus, its economic fallout showing almost perfectly the divides between those who are vulnerable and those who are not.

Now, some of us do work that is not public-facing.

Some of us do work that is flexible and supported by technology and computers.

And of course some of us do work that gets us an income well above average, offering security, health, a home with space, and a comfortable family life.

This work gives us an economic immunity.

What is the big deal about working at home if you normally spend half your time working from an airplane seat?

But underlying Statistics Canada’s report are some dramatic differences.

The employment change among managers and those working in professional, scientific, or technical jobs was “decimal point dust,” but 300,000 people working in accommodation and food services lost work, a fall that wiped out 20 years of growth.

The foot soldiers in this very first economic battle against COVID-19 were the young and women, those who work in part-time and temporary jobs, with no union contracts and lower wages. Students and those who were already unemployed were also out of luck finding their next job.

Now that we are collectively facing a health risk that is spreading across space, we’ve been given the opportunity for empathy with many people who individually confront risks that repeat over and over again during the course of their lives, an accumulation of bad draws over time that leads to lower and more precarious incomes, housing that is less stable and of lower quality, families that are less secure.

In much of this there is no question of merit and just desert, it’s just bad luck.

It is nice for premiers and prime ministers to thank truck drivers and grocery store clerks for their essential work, but it will be hypocrisy of the highest order for our governments to only hope to start up again where we left off.

Inequality has been robbing many Canadians of security, prosperity and dignity for decades. That is what COVID-19 reveals.

No, we don’t just have an adjustment problem. We have — as we have long had — an inequality problem.

Source: ContributorsOpinionCOVID-19 is not the great leveller. It’s the great revealer

Their work is keeping Canada safe. But they earn a fraction of the national average

Another example of the COVID-19 class divide (‘White-Collar Quarantine’ Over Virus Spotlights Class Divide):

They’re the workers keeping Canada safe and healthy in the midst of a pandemic. But some — like cashiers — bring home just around a quarter of the average Canadian’s annual income.

From food processing to warehouses to delivery services, the workers deemed essential to maintaining the country’s vital supply chain are significantly more likely to be low-wage and racialized compared to the rest of the labour market, according to new statistics from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

In some cases, they are bringing home less than half of the average Canadian worker a year.

“In the midst of a pandemic, many of us are going back to the essentials. We need to put food on the table for ourselves and our families. We need to have the medications that we require. And as there have been many new reports on, we all need toilet paper,” said Sheila Block, a senior economist with the CCPA.

“To keep us in these essentials, we rely on these workers whose work has often been undervalued and who are often marginalized.”

The CCPA study relied on 2016 census data, which showed average annual earnings across the entire Canadian economy stood at around $49,500. Analyzing the earnings of workers in essential jobs by both industry and occupation, Block’s research found that grocery store workers — a category that includes managers — earned on average half of that. Cashiers took home just 26 per cent.

Light duty cleaners fared poorly too, earning just over 40 per cent of the national average. Couriers and door-to-door messengers brought home just over 50 per cent.

Racialized workers make up 21 per cent of the total workforce in Canada, but they were overrepresented in sectors deemed essential during the COVID-19 pandemic, the CCPA’s analysis found.

In warehousing and storage, for example, racialized workers made up 37 per cent of the workforce; in food manufacturing, that figure was 30 per cent.

Kulwinder Singh, a truck driver based out of Mississauga, says he is working 10 to 12 hour days bringing goods to Shoppers Drug Mart, Sobeys, and the LCBO. He says the deliveries he makes every day are “essential” — but he’s afraid to come home at the end of his shift to his wife and daughter.

“It’s very risky,” he said.

As an independent owner/operator, he is technically self-employed — meaning he has no health insurance, no medical leave, and no access to protective equipment except for what he purchases himself.

“Everything I’m paying for out of my own pocket,” he said, adding that some companies will not let him use washroom facilities to wash his hands.

The CCPA study notes that many of the sectors deemed essential have low unionization rates; in Canada, less than 8 per cent of retail workers have a union.

Many essential workers — including truck drivers and most gig workers — are classified as independent contractors, meaning they struggle to join unions and or access basic employment protections.

“There is a real divide between the people who can self isolate and who can work from home and the people that we rely on to make that possible,” said Block.

“We have to be particularly concerned that we are relying on industries that have a history of rights violations in this time. These rights violations have historically been threatening to workers’ health for sure and sometimes lives,” she added.

“Now we are actually putting the health of the public at risk if we don’t have good enforcement of health standards.”

Some companies, including Amazon and Loblaws, are offering employees a $2 an hour premium for working during the COVID-19 pandemic — measures Block called a “welcome but insufficient response.”

“We have to really look at governments to respond in a longer term manner by increasing minimum wages, easing access to unionization, and increasing both protections and enforcement under minimum employment standards,” she added.

Last week, federal labour minister Filomena Tassi said experts at the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety were drawing up best health and safety practices to share with provincial labour ministries for at-risk workplaces such as trucking and food processing.

Enacting 21 emergency leave days during the pandemic — plus seven permanent paid sick days — is also a critical step at the provincial level, Block said.

Source: Star ExclusiveTheir work is keeping Canada safe. But they earn a fraction of the national average A new study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives shows low-wage and racialized workers are overrepresented in jobs deemed essential during COVID-19 pandemic.

‘White-Collar Quarantine’ Over Virus Spotlights Class Divide

Not unique to the USA but gaps wider:

For about $80,000, an individual can purchase a six-month plan with Private Health Management, which helps people with serious medical issues navigate the health care system.

Such a plan proved to be a literal lifesaver as the coronavirus pandemic descended. The firm has helped clients arrange tests in Los Angeles for the coronavirus and obtained oxygen concentrators for high-risk patients.

“We know the top lab people and the doctors and nurses and can make the process efficient,” said Leslie Michelson, the firm’s executive chairman.

In some respects, the pandemic is an equalizer: It can afflict princes and paupers alike, and no one who hopes to stay healthy is exempt from the strictures of social distancing. But the American response to the virus is laying bare class divides that are often camouflaged — in access to health care, child care, education, living space, even internet bandwidth.

In New York, well-off city dwellers have abandoned cramped apartments for spacious second homes. In Texas, the rich are shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars to build safe rooms and bunkers.

And across the country, there is a creeping consciousness that despite talk of national unity, not everyone is equal in times of emergency.

“This is a white-collar quarantine,” said Howard Barbanel, a Miami-based entrepreneur who owns a wine company. “Average working people are bagging and delivering goods, driving trucks, working for local government.”

Some of those catering to the well-off stress that they are trying to be good citizens. Mr. Michelson emphasized that he had obtained coronavirus tests only for patients who met guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rather than the so-called worried well.

Still, a kind of pandemic caste system is rapidly developing: the rich holed up in vacation properties; the middle class marooned at home with restless children; the working class on the front lines of the economy, stretched to the limit by the demands of work and parenting, if there is even work to be had.

“I do get that there are haves and have-nots,” said Carolyn Richmond, a Manhattan employment lawyer who is advising restaurant industry clients from her second home, on Long Island, as they engineer layoffs. “Do I feel guilty? No. But I do know that I am very lucky. I understand there’s a big difference between me and the people I work with every day.”

Long before the new coronavirus, another kind of equalizer was being promoted: the internet. For decades, tech evangelists cited the democratizing power of the World Wide Web, which they said would bring high-quality services to strata of society that had previously gone without them.

Some of those predictions have come to pass. In recent days, time spent on the site of the Khan Academy, a well-regarded online curriculum that is free, is up about two and a half times from this time last year.

In March, the federal government broadened its coverage of so-called telemedicine services through Medicare, giving many more people access to a doctor over the web.

Still, the technology that makes these services accessible remains out of reach for many Americans. While data on internet access is inexact, the most recent Federal Communications Commission figures, from 2017, showed that 30 percent of households did not have even a slow broadband connection.

Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democratic member of the commission, said millions of Americans had only phones, often with strict caps on data usage. “Imagine using a mobile device to look up your class work, type out a paper,” she said. “No parent would choose that as the primary tool for their child’s learning.”

Like many districts around the country, the Brownsville Independent School District in Texas sought to transfer much of its curriculum online when it closed its doors this week. Schools encouraged students to use digital platforms like Google Classroom, Apple Teacher and Seesaw to keep up with their studies.

But unlike wealthier areas, Brownsville has notoriously spotty internet access. Nearly half of households there lacked broadband in 2018, putting it at the top of a list of worst-connected citiescompiled by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, an advocacy group. “We’re limited when it comes to online services in our community,” said the district’s superintendent, René Gutiérrez. “It’s not where it needs to be.”

The situation has sent many families scrambling. Anahi Rubio, 11, and her mother just moved into an apartment that lacks an internet connection. Anahi has struggled with balky access while using a laptop at her aunt’s house, where she couldn’t get the videoconferencing app Zoom to work.

“They’re always telling you to use YouTube to learn multiplication, or to look something up on Google,” said her mother, Betsy Rubio. “Online, everybody gets to be on the same page. But if not everyone has good internet, like my daughter, you don’t. I’m concerned about her falling behind.”

And internet access is far from the only challenge confronting the less affluent. Marc Perrone, the president of the United Food and Commercial Workers, which represents over one million workers in industries like groceries and meatpacking, said child care was a top concern when the union held a telephone town hall this week with about 5,000 supermarket workers in New York State.

“In some cases, if they’re old enough, they’re latching them — becoming latchkey kids,” Mr. Perrone said, alluding to the option of leaving a child home alone.

Until a few weeks ago, Darlyne Dagrin would drop her 22-month-old son off at a day care facility on her way to work at a nursing home in Cedar Grove, N.J. But the center has closed temporarily amid the pandemic, leaving her with no choice but to skip work when she can’t find a friend or relative to care for him.

“This week I called out twice,” Ms. Dagrin said Wednesday. “They called me and said: ‘We won’t accept no more callouts. If you call out again you’re out of a job.’” She said she didn’t know what she was going to do for the rest of the week.

Unlike Ms. Dagrin, Maggie Russell-Ciardi doesn’t have to choose between going to work and providing child care for her young child. A nonprofit consultant in New York City and part-time yoga teacher, Ms. Russell-Ciardi can slot work around her 3-year-old son’s sleep and play schedule — even if it sometimes requires waking up in the wee hours — and simply makes do when he’s awake and active.

“It’s better for me to do my own practice when he’s sleeping,” she said of the yoga classes she now teaches online. “But it’s nice to have him growing up feeling like he’s part of the yoga community even if it’s now a virtual one. It’s an important teaching for him.”

The ability of the middle class to quickly shift life online has been striking. The Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, where roughly 100 faculty members on site teach several hundred students each week, has shifted its entire music instruction to videoconferencing. Over 95 percent of the students enrolled in private lessons have resumed their classes since the school reopened online last Friday.

By contrast, said Dorothy Savitch, an administrator, the school operates a music education program in 25 local public schools, with large numbers of children below the poverty level. Ms. Savitch said about one-third of those children might take part when the program resumes online next week, though she hopes to reach 60 percent of them eventually.

But the middle class is not free of anxiety in this pandemic moment. Otherwise-privileged people have become acutely aware of the options they lack. “For the first time in my life, I feel the difference between myself and my more affluent friends,” said Deb Huberman, a freelance television producer living on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. “I desperately want to get out of the city but I can’t afford to rent something.”

Ms. Huberman estimates that half the neighbors in her building have fled to second homes. Many have joined other wealthy New Yorkers in the less densely populated East End of Long Island.

“I feel guilty about friends and colleagues who don’t have the ability to leave,” said Joe Bilman, who moved with his family from Park Slope in Brooklyn to his vacation house in East Hampton. “We knew it would be easier for us to isolate and be part of the quarantine. We have a backyard and the kids can go for bike rides.”

Hamptonites have often managed to recreate the amenities of home, except with more space and beachfront views. Many children enrolled in Manhattan prep schools continue to be taught by teachers in conventional classroom formats, albeit over the internet, while public schools have frequently substituted individual study with materials supplied online.

MyTennisLessons.com advertises that “coaches are continuing to give 1-on-1 lessons” and lists a few pros available in Hamptons ZIP codes. Zabar’s, the Upper West Side food emporium, will deliver an assortment of noshes for a $300 to $400, depending on the distance.

“I don’t even take a markup — it’s whatever the messenger service charges me,” said Scott Goldshine, the general manager. “Obviously, for most of the people out there getting these types of delivery, money is not an issue.”

At some summer retreats, like Martha’s Vineyard and the Jersey Shore, local officials have taken to discouraging second-home owners and renters for fear of overtaxing local infrastructure.

In other cases, the rich aren’t going east or west, but down. Gary Lynch, general manager of Rising S, a Texas maker of safe rooms and bunkers that range in price from $40,000 to several million dollars, said he had added a second shift of 15 workers to handle the flood of new orders, mostly for underground bunkers.

“I’ve never seen interest like there is now,” said Mr. Lynch, who has taken to turning his phone off at night so he can get some sleep. “It has not let up.”