A friend of mine lost his job yesterday. He’d probably been expecting it. He knew things weren’t looking great, but still, the official notice was a tough read. His employer is proposing to disestablish his position as a result of covid-19. It’s out for consultation but I think we all know how these things work, especially right now.
Truth be told, I don’t think we’ve seen anything like the full weight of this impact just yet. Grant Robertson confirmed yesterday that thousands more people have applied for the jobseeker benefit in the last few weeks. Iconic businesses such as the Shotover Jet are closing shop for who knows how long. Treasury’s forecasts, in a BEST CASE scenario, still have unemployment reaching almost nine percent. If history is anything to go by, it could be double that for Māori.
I think too, many businesses are just now really starting to feel the bite. Smaller businesses might had some revenue trickling in up until now. Work that was done in the first part of March has been paid which kept things ticking over for a bit. But nothing’s been done in April. The wage subsidy might cover some outgoings but many will be facing big shortfalls.
It all makes for a really weird setting. On the one hand, total lockdown might be over. We’re all feeling pretty pleased about moving out of level four. There’s a sense of relief, a sense that we are progressing, that our collective efforts over the last month or so have paid off. It feels like things are getting better. But actually, at the same time as the restrictions on our movement and our social interactions are reduced, the economic blow of covid-19 is going to bite harder and harder.
For all of us, it means a broadening of responsibilities. Up to this point, our main focus has been maintaining the integrity of our respective bubbles, physical distancing. But as we enter this next phase there are two other ways for us to contribute to the coronavirus fight back.
First is to make sure we support those doing it the toughest right now. Food banks have seen as astonishing increase in demand. Many are recording their busiest days ever. If you can help the Salvation Army, Budgeting Service, or City Mission, do it.
And if you’re one of the relative lucky ones, if you’ve got a bit of financial security, if you’ve got a job… PLEASE… spend some money. Support whatever local businesses that are allowed to open under level 3. Buy some coffees or takeaways. Support a business that has set up contactless trading.
We’ve got into the habit of not spending much money these last few weeks. The only thing on my credit card statement is a few transactions at the supermarket. There are many New Zealanders who won’t be fortunate enough to have the option to spend up for a while to come. But for those of us who can, now is the time to open your wallet, and dig deep. Over the last month, doing our bit has saved Kiwi lives. In the months to come, doing our bit will mean saving Kiwi livelihoods.