Expect huge job losses due to coronavirus: Economist
Wells Fargo senior economist Mark Vitner says he’s hopeful as the weather warms up, the coronavirus may lose some of its intensity, but before then, there will be a big drop in employment in America.
As mounting coronavirus fears sweep across the U.S. and businesses close, more people are turning to mobile apps to find temporary work.
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Early estimates suggest that at least a million workers could lose their jobs in March, a stunning and dramatic turnaround from February, when employers added 273,000 jobs and unemployment dipped to 3.5 percent, a half-century low.
An app called MyWorkChoice and others like it may be the easy, new solution to finding temporary and permanent employment as quickly as possible. The app connects jobs seekers with business owners and gets new employees trained for work in as little as 24 hours.
"You've got all of these displaced people because of [COVID-19], but you also have a huge demand for supplies," MyWorkChoice CEO Tara Greene told FOX Business. "It'd be such a perfect world if people knew about [MyWorkChoice] and were able to get back working within 24 hours."
A person walks past a closed craft store, March 17, in Havertown, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Amazon, Kroger, Walmart and other retail stores, including pharmacies, have stepped up their hiring efforts in recent weeks to meet essential customer demand. Some companies have even increased wages in an effort to get more workers.
MyWorkChoice, founded more than 30 years ago, is designed around its clients, Greene said. More and more, businesses need workers to fill temporary jobs as quickly as possible. Her app connects these employers with potential employees in nine states, but the company could reach all 50 states in 12 months if demand remains high.
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"Demand has spiked in the past week or two" because of COVID-19, she said. "We can have 200 to 400 people ready in about two weeks because of the technology. You couldn't do what we do today 10 years ago."
"It's all demand now," she added. "Once we get that, we're a go."
Job-seekers apply through the app or website, go through a background check and do a phone interview with one of MyWorkChoice's call-center workers, many of whom got their jobs through the app. Once workers are approved and start the training process, which more and more frequently takes place online, they start working, Greene said.
People wait in line for help with unemployment benefits at the One-Stop Career Center, March 17, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
"Right now, we can process and get someone into work within 24 hours," she said, but the company's eventual goal is to get people "from couch to check in an hour."
Additionally, MyWorkChoice employees aren't paid by the companies they work for; they are paid and receive benefits through MyWorkChoice, which Greene said she enjoys because it gives her control over her workers' care.
"These are W2 employees of MyWorkChoice, not 1099 workers. They are covered by workers comp and benefits," she said.
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Additionally, workers receive star ratings for their work, so while they have the option to cancel at the last minute if they feel sick or something else comes up, they can do so at the risk of potentially losing a star.
The most demand for employees comes from the manufacturing, warehouse, bakery and restaurant, delivery and food-storage industries, Green said. The app connects communities of businesses and hirable people and allows them to communicate on their devices to figure out what work is needed and when, opening up new opportunities for people with irregular schedules.
A worker loads copper cathodes into a warehouse in a file photo. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
"We can take the shifts that are available and partner people up with them," Greene explained. "[The app] brings flexibility to blue-collar workers that they've never had."
While white-collar office jobs are becoming increasingly flexible for workers, blue collar jobs are not, and that is putting a strain on people who work those jobs but don't have flexible schedules, such as parents, caretakers and people who struggle with health-related restrictions.
The three-strikes-and-you're-out work mentality is outdated, and "not everybody can work like that," Green said. Work environments, especially blue-collar and supply-chain work environments, haven't changed, even though today’s workforce is different.
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"Life happens, so we created this app," Greene said. "We literally took absenteeism off the table."
Connecting businesses and workers looking for temporary or permanent jobs is a relatively recent trend that other companies are starting to pick up on. Uber developed an app similar to MyWorkChoice in October, which connects people with irregular schedules to work opportunities. ProLogistix is another app that helps fill "warehouse and logistics jobs in temp, temp to hire and direct hire," according to its website.
"Traditional staffing companies are not set up to remotely recruit people. They slow businesses down," Greene explained.
Wade Warner picks up a toilet paper roll at a Stop & Shop supermarket during hours open daily only for seniors, March 19, in North Providence, R.I. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic as an increasing number of mothers and fathers have to stay home with their out-of-school children, the demand for temporary workers has skyrocketed. At the same time, people who have been forced out of work because of businesses that have shut down are also looking for work, so employers and job-seekers alike turn to companies like MyWorkChoice and others to quickly fill that need.
The app has a 97-percent job-fill rate and client 99-percent return rate.
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"My heart is in it for the people to help keep people's dignity intact and help them get an income," Greene said. "I feel like I'm needed right now. I can't sleep just because I'm excited to help get people get instant work."
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