“I like going on there and making sure that everybody’s still doing OK”
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“My Economy” tells the story of the new economic normal through the eyes of people trying to make it, because we know the only numbers that really matter are the ones in your economy.
Back in March, Veronica Coon, a hairdresser in Henderson, Nevada, started an online barter group to help people trade hand sanitizer, cleaning products, face masks and other products in high demand during the pandemic. It quickly became a community where people not only trade goods, but also offer donations, share information and send words of comfort to people in need.
Six months after it began, Coon said that kind of activity remains, but some of the products people want have changed.
“Right now, people are looking for more personal home items,” she said. “People are putting up, ‘I’m looking for patio furniture,’ or ‘I’m looking for a swimming pool and this is what I have to barter.’”
However, Coon said certain products have stayed in high demand throughout the pandemic: face masks and disinfecting sprays and wipes. “That’s probably the biggest thing that people ask for,” she said.
With the help of nine admins, Coon said she’s been able to cut down the amount of time she spends moderating the group to about one hour a week. “I try to go on once a week into the Facebook group and just post, ‘How is everyone doing?’” she said. “I feel it’s important to do that, not just as somebody who started the group, but as somebody who really cares. I like going on there and making sure that everybody’s still doing OK.”
Though she temporarily lost her day-job as a hairdresser when Nevada’s governor issued a stay-at-home order, Coon said she’s been busy this summer meeting pent up demand for haircuts. “Getting everybody in the first eight weeks, I was working six days a week,” she said. “Now I’m back down to my four days a week and it’s been great.”
Overall, Coon said she’s hoping for a return to normalcy soon. “It’s hard to breathe with the chemicals that we use and having to wear a mask,” she said. “I understand it, it’s not that I don’t understand it, it’s just difficult. I wish that we [could] just get back to normal.”
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COVID-19 Economy FAQs
So what’s up with “Zoom fatigue”?
It’s a real thing. The science backs it up — there’s new research from Stanford University. So why is it that the technology can be so draining? Jeremy Bailenson with Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab puts it this way: “It’s like being in an elevator where everyone in the elevator stopped and looked right at us for the entire elevator ride at close-up.” Bailenson said turning off self-view and shrinking down the video window can make interactions feel more natural and less emotionally taxing.
How are Americans spending their money these days?
Economists are predicting that pent-up demand for certain goods and services is going to burst out all over as more people get vaccinated. A lot of people had to drastically change their spending in the pandemic because they lost jobs or had their hours cut. But at the same time, most consumers “are still feeling secure or optimistic about their finances,” according to Candace Corlett, president of WSL Strategic Retail, which regularly surveys shoppers. A lot of people enjoy browsing in stores, especially after months of forced online shopping. And another area expecting a post-pandemic boost: travel.
What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?
Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”
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