Countless Hispanic workers in Anchorage have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. The work most of them carry out refers to tourism and hospitality, construction, recreation, restaurants, shops, child and elderly care, in short, the services sector, which has been severely affected as it has been necessary to partially or definitively suspend causing a deep recession throughout 2020.
Dayra Valades, who works for the Unite Here, Local 878 in Anchorage, Alaska, notes “The hospitality and tourism industry has been greatly affected. Our union represents hotel and restaurant employees, among others. Approximately 85 percent of our members have been affected either with reduction to their working hours, or full unemployment.”
Since the middle of the year unemployment woes had already been felt in the United States. With 20.5 million jobs reported lost since April, and the Hispanic community being hit the hardest, the Department of Labor reported that of the total unemployed, 19 percent are Latino, and of which, women are the majority.
Dayra Valades, who is directly observing the current situation, states that “we are definitely going through an economic and political crisis in the wake of the pandemic. Economically, our communities are devastated, jobs are extremely limited, not only in the industry where workers had been employed before the pandemic, but in other industries as well. It is noted that even when workers are willing to change industries, the jobs available are too limited causing the level of unemployment to be extremely high.”
By August, employers had hired 1.4 million workers as part of the economic recovery, still this is 11.5 million fewer jobs than those recorded in pre-pandemic February.
People who live day to day do not have savings because of the low salary they receive, and the undocumented are obviously not in a position to apply for unemployment benefits. “When we add to the absence of jobs that no other economic stimulus package has been approved, we see that the amount received from unemployment insurance is not enough for families to meet their very basic needs,” Valades adds.
Currently, the employment landscape for the community at large is not favorable. As a spokesman for many Hispanic workers in Alaska, Dayra notes “ As workers, we are ready to return to a job, but we don’t have one to go back to, or even have a way of starting over. It is devastating to see that because the pandemic is worldwide, the option to migrate elsewhere is not the answer, as the situation is terribly similar everywhere.” In Alaska, it is expected that after vaccines have been received, the hospitality industry will recover quickly.The return of cruise companies such as Holland America-Princess, one of the largest and most important lines that operates in the state each year, and that also owns and operates different hotels, would bring a high number of jobs back.
In other countries
In Latin America, according to data from the International Labor Organization (ILO) in its latest report “Labor Overview During Covid-19 Time,” nearly 34 million people have lost their jobs due to the pandemic, indicating an all-time record. The nine countries included in this report are Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Brazil, Mexico, Costa Rica, Peru, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Covid-19’s resurgence threatens a total economic recovery, as business closures in different sectors have been repeated and there is strong global uncertainty about the immediate future.
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