Nationwide, Housekeepers Face Financial Instability Due to COVID-19

An industry struggles with numerous issues

Housekeepers are facing difficult choices right now.
Karim Manjra/Unsplash

The pandemic has been a difficult time for working-class Americans. For some, it’s meant the loss — whether temporary or permanent — of a job; for others, it might mean going to work in an unsafe environment. A new article at The New York Times explores how the pandemic has affected one specific group of workers in particular: housekeepers.

The article, by David Segal, explores the different ways in which the ongoing pandemic has affected people working in this industry. Early on, Segal cites an alarming statistic: according to one survey, 72% of housekeepers across the country had lost all work by early April. For some, that involved continuing to be paid during a hiatus from cleaning; for others, it meant an abrupt end to a professional relationship.

The article notes that many housekeepers’ luck has improved since the beginning of July, but that business isn’t necessarily back to where it once was. “[Housekeepers’] pay dwindled, in many cases, because employers left for vacation homes or because those employers could work from home and didn’t want visitors,” Segal writes.

The situation that many housekeepers have found themselves during the pandemic speaks to challenges specific to the pandemic as well as longstanding issues that people working in this industry have had to deal with. Many struggle without benefits; others are in a precarious position due to their immigration status. Like so many things this year, the pandemic has exposed the fault lines that many in this industry face, and there are few easy solutions.

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