Overview of the Public Assets Institute’s State of Working Vermont 2021 Report
Guest post by: Courtney Blasius, VWW Intern
This report provides a basic overview of the changes in employment throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We are introduced to the report with the pointed statement: “In 2020 and 2021 the COVID-19 pandemic changed work. Parents and caregivers, mothers especially, racked up hours of unpaid labor caring for kids and overseeing schoolwork while holding down jobs.” They also rightly validate the new visibility and respect towards essential personnel, like grocery store staff members, and all of the people in the healthcare workforce.
We see the benefits of the labor shortage, in that people working for low hourly rates now have a voice, and are using it to push employers for higher wages, necessary medical leave, and generally better benefits. The overwhelming majority of findings are detailed in as positive a light as possible, given the subject matter. This, in and of itself, is a breath of fresh air.
The introduction continues by pointing out that, unsurprisingly, the pandemic has brought systemic problems into a new light. These systems issues include policy gaps where housing is priced out of reach of low-wage earners, pandemic health inequalities, and physical effects of generational trauma, which is noted to have affected the BIPOC community at a more aggressive rate, therefore impacting this group more greatly.
The report aptly points to, in emboldened letters that, “People do better, materially, and psychologically, when they have enough money,” reflecting on the stimulus payments distribution to citizens in 2020. This assistance was meant to help people meet their financial needs during an unprecedented time, and it did just that.