Resources for Economic Empowerment Programs: Responding to COVID-19
The Promoting Employment Opportunities for Survivors of Human Trafficking (PEOST) Project is closely monitoring the impact COVID-19 is having on the economy and employment opportunities available to survivors of human trafficking. This page will be continually updated with new information and resources to support the safety and economic security of survivors as they become available. For specific questions or needs, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.[Updated 04.30.2021]
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INDUSTRIES MOST IMPACTED BY COVID-19
Workers in the hospitality and retail sectors face the highest risk of job loss during this pandemic as states and local governments try to slow the spread of the virus by closing non-essential businesses and mandating people stay at home. Because jobs in these sectors are often low-wage and without benefits, workers in these industries – the majority of whom are women, people of color, and immigrants – are particularly vulnerable to such economic shocks.
The scale of these job losses vary greatly by region and are not necessarily related to the severity of COVID-19 within a state. A state’s reliance on retail, leisure, and hospitality makes them more vulnerable to job loss than the impact of the number of COVID-19 cases in that state. Projections from the Economic Policy Institute suggest that states like Nevada, Hawaii, Alaska, Mississippi, and Delaware will be among the states with the highest share of unemployment claims due to the composition of industries within their states.
A vulnerability index, created by economists at Chmura, can provide a better sense of what to expect at a local level: http://chmuraecon.com/interactive/covid-19-economic-vulnerability-index/.
The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics released employment projections on February 2021 to estimate the potential long-term effects of the pandemic on the U.S. Labor market. Learn more here: https://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2021/article/employment-projections-in-a-pandemic-environment.htm
INDUSTRIES SEEING JOB GROWTH
In response to changing consumer needs as a result of social distancing and stay-at-home mandates, some industries and businesses are hiring. Most of these positions can be found within the gig economy such as Instacart, pharmacy retail including CVS and Walgreens, and grocery store chains.
Individuals looking for work should consider the potential health and safety risks of being in the public and potentially exposed to the virus versus the benefit of these job opportunities. These positions are generally low-wage, often lack benefits, and there are increasing reports of a lack of personal protective equipment being provided to workers or other safety and health measures being taken by some businesses during the pandemic. In addition, many of the employers who are hiring are businesses with over 500 employees, as such, workers employed by these businesses are not eligible for the leave benefits under the FFCRA.
To find local job openings, visit American Job Centers online at https://www.careeronestop.org/LocalHelp/AmericanJobCenters/american-job-centers.aspx to search by location and keyword.
For more information on connecting survivors to workforce development and employment opportunities, visit Opportunities for Survivors of Human Trafficking Through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA): A Primer.
RELIEF FOR WORKERS WHO HAVE EXPERIENCED JOB LOSS
More than 22 million workers have applied for unemployment benefits since mid-March; these numbers are expected to rise with the Federal Reserve Bank estimating that the unemployment rate will reach 32.1 percent at the peak of this health crisis. In response, a number of new resources have been made available to help support workers who have experienced job loss or a reduction of income as a result of COVID-19.
- The Good Jobs Institute has a list of worker relief funds by industry and state, as well as relief funds for small businesses: https://goodjobsinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Good-Jobs-Lens-on-COVID-19-Responses-3.17.2020.pdf
- Legal Aid at Work and UndocuScholars are maintaining lists of relief funds and other resources for individuals who lack a social security number and are ineligible for resources provided under the FFCRA or CARES Act (California specific): https://legalaidatwork.org/blog/relief-funds/ and https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/18p9OSlLpSYanIoUC-gEbhVbRMYVUfw4wyrixa9ekGdc/edit#gid=0.
- The Protect Immigrant Families Campaign has also developed quick reference guide on the federal public programs available to support individuals and families: https://protectingimmigrantfamilies.org/immigrant-eligibility-for-public-programs-during-covid-19/
- Workers Lab has created a COVID-19 Rapid Relief Fund to support workers impacted but without access to benefits: https://www.theworkerslab.com/the-workers-fund
- Restaurant Opportunities Center United and the One Fair Wage Campaign have compiled a list of emergency relief programs available for workers in the food services industry: https://rocunited.org/stop-the-spread/coronavirus-support/ and https://ofwemergencyfund.org/
- The Domestic Workers Alliance has a list of resources available for home care workers, nannies, and house cleaners: https://domesticworkers.org/coronavirus-care-fund
- The National Day Laborer Organizing Network has established an Immigrant Worker Safety Net Fund: https://ndlon.org/immigrant-worker-safety-net-fund/
- Internal Revenue Services (IRS)- Economic Impact Payments. IRS has an online tracker Get My Payment that will allow you to check status of economic impact payment. The link will also let you know who is eligible and commonly asked questions. Visit: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payments
- Framework: Helping Clients Access Stimulus Checks. A Q & A for case managers and others working with survivors of trafficking on different ways people can access their stimulus payments if they have not yet received them. Visit: https://frameworkta.org/blog/helping-clients-access-stimulus-checks/
- Good Jobs Institute- Worker & Small Business Relief Funds. A database of emergency relief funds for workers and small businesses by safety and industry. Visit: https://goodjobsinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Good-Jobs-Lens-on-COVID-19-Responses-3.17.2020.pdf
- AFL-CIO- Resources for Workers Impacted by Covid-19. Available support and resources for workers by state, including housing and food assistance, health insurance, financial support and emergency paid leave. Visit: https://aflcio.org/covid-19/state-resources
- Department of Labor- Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Provides details on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) and Employee Paid Leave Rights extended until September 20, 2021. Visit: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employee-paid-leave
- The Center for WorkLife Law. Free tools for employees who want to request leave or changes at work due to COVI-19 health and family needs. Resource include a Worker’s Rights Factsheet that helps understand paid sick leave, emergency paid leave and unemployment insurance. The center also is offering free legal helpline for workers. Visit: https://worklifelaw.org/covid19/helpline-resources/
- Benefits.gov. Official website that provides information on all government benefit information. Visit: https://www.benefits.gov/categories/Financial%20Assistance
- FEMA- Recovery & Economic Support. A list of resources and guidelines available by FEMA to address Covid-19. Visit: https://www.fema.gov/media-collection/resource-roadmaps
WORKING SAFELY DURING COVID-19
COVID-19 has exposed workers to new risks to their health and safety. In addition to health workers, there are many other occupations that have a heightened risk of exposure to COVID-19 due to job duties that put them in close contact with the public or public areas, like janitors, transit workers, and grocery store cashiers. There are increasing reports that some workers are not being provided with gloves, masks, cleaning supplies, antibacterial gel or wipes, and other personal protective measures while working.
- The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health has compiled guidance on workers’ safety and health rights here: https://nationalcosh.org/coronavirus (English) and https://www.coshnetwork.org/SP-coronavirus (Español).
- Workers who are fortunate enough to be able to work from home may face increased threats of violence from abusive partners. Learn more about how to support these individuals from the National Resource Center for Workplaces Respond to Domestic and Sexual Violence at https://www.workplacesrespond.org/page/covid19supportingworkers/ (English) and https://www.workplacesrespond.org/page/covid19apoyoparalostrabajadores/ (Español).
- CDC Covid-19- Worker Safety and Support. Up-to-date worker safety guidance that will help employers identify how to protect essential workers. Includes occupation-specific safety and health guidance, printable flyers for workplaces. Visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/workplaces-businesses/specific-industries.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fcommunity%2Fworker-safety-support%2Findex.html
- National Employment Law Project. Resources for workers and worker-serving organizations, including a toolkit on worker safety and health during COVID. Visit: http://www.unemployedworkers.org
- American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA). Resource center provides industry-specific guidance for maintaining healthy and safe workplaces during COVID. Including guidelines for cleaning workplaces, how to re-open workplaces safely, and important information about PPE. Visit: https://www.aiha.org/public-resources/consumer-resources/coronavirus_outbreak_resources
- The Aspen Institute Food & Society Program -Safety First: Serving Food and Protecting People During Covid-19. Common questions about Covid-19 and practical steps that chefs, managers and supervisors can take as they re-open their kitchens. How to stay safe while preparing food, packaging meals, and food delivery/pickup. Visit: https://www.aspeninstitute.org/publications/safety-first/
- National Domestic Workers Alliance. Guidance on how to protect the health and safety of domestic workers. Has resources for different domestic work occupations such as housecleaners, nannies, and caregivers. Visit: https://membership.domesticworkers.org/coronavirus/work-safely/
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Covid 19 Guidance. A list or resources and guidelines for health and safety in the workplace. Specifically, on how to prevent exposure, infection and spreading. Visit: https://www.osha.gov/coronavirus
- Harvard Center for Work, Health and Well-Being. Resources for employers and workers on how to respond to COVID-19 and improving the working conditions of frontline workers. Visit: http://centerforworkhealth.sph.harvard.edu/covid19
- National Human Trafficking Hotline. The toll-free phone and SMS text lines and live online chat function are available 24 hours a day. Help is available in English or Spanish, or in more than 200 additional languages through an on-call interpreter. Hearing and speech-impaired individuals can contact the Trafficking Hotline by dialing 711, the free national access number that connects to Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS). 1-888-373-7888 (TTy:711) or Text 233733. Visit: https://humantraffickinghotline.org/
- National Domestic Violence Hotline. Provides 24/7 crisis intervention, safety planning and information on domestic violence 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) TTY 1-800-787-3224. Visit: https://www.thehotline.org/
- Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Provides 24/7 free and confidential support and resources from trained crisis counselors 1-800-273-8255. Visit: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
- SAMHSA’s National Helpline. 1-800-662-HELP (4357) A confidential, free, 24 hr hotline in English and Spanish for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorder. Visit: https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline
- Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA). Provides information on bipolar disorder and depression, offers in-person and online support groups and forums (800-826-3632). Visit: https://www.dbsalliance.org/
- Alcoholics Anonymous. A database of online AA meetings throughout the nation. Visit: https://www.aa.org/pages/en_US/options-for-meeting-online
- California.Gov. Covid-19 Guidance for Immigrant Californians. A guide that provides tips about services and public benefits available for immigrant California’s including some available regardless of immigration status. Visit: https://files.covid19.ca.gov/pdf/wp/listos_covid_19_immigrant_guidance_en_daf.pdf
- My Undocumented Life: Covid-19 Resources. List of resources and news that help undocumented and mixed-status families during Covid-19. Visit: https://mydocumentedlife.org/2020/03/30/resources-for-undocumented-immigrants-and-their-families-during-covid-19
- Informed Immigrant. Covid-19 resources such as regional Emergency Rental Assistance support, undocumented relief funds, and emergency funds for immigrants curated by Informed Immigrant. Visit: https://www.informedimmigrant.com/guides/coronavirus/
- Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF). MALDEF is the nation’s leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the “law firm of the Latino community”, MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. Visit: https://www.maldef.org/
- Immigrants Rising. Covid-19 resources for immigrant/ undocumented community. Visit: https://immigrantsrising.org/resource/tangible-support-for-immigrant-communities-during-covid-19/
OPPORTUNITIES TO BUILD SKILLS ONLINE
While job training programs and workforce development programs have mostly shut down, economic empowerment programs can continue to help survivors build their skills and prepare for employment once the crisis has passed and businesses are able to safely reopen. Consider an individual’s identified career pathway and collaborate with that individual to identify the skills they have and what skills can develop or strengthen to better position them enter or advance in those chosen careers. Try to identify skill building opportunities that offer industry recognized credentials. Connect with your local community college or American Job Center to learn about available online training programs.
Career OneStop is a Department of Labor resource that provides resources for career exploration, training and jobs. Includes an American Job Center and Workforce Development Board Finder where you can receive support from a career specialist.
If a survivor is uncertain of their desired career path, now is a good time to explore potential careers that match their interests, skills, and income needs. The U.S. Department of Labor has developed a comprehensive to help job seekers explore careers. O*Net Online, https://onetonline.orgis a robust resource for workforce development professionals and job seekers that helps to explore and analyze career opportunities based on a range of criteria including interest, skills, job type, growing opportunities, and much more. Learn more about how to use this power tool at the O*Net Academy: http://www.onetacademy.org/view/3001024770249316148/info.
This may also be a good time for individuals who are interested in entrepreneurship to learn more about developing business plans to pursue their dreams. There are a number of online resources that can help potential entrepreneurs explore their business concepts, learn about basic operations, and develop their business models.
- ALISON. ALISON provides credentialed training programs for essential workplace skills online. Visit: https://alison.com/courses
- GCFLearnFree by the Goodwill Community Foundation. GCF LearnFree provides free online computer, technology, and life skills training programs. Available in multiple languages. Visit: https://edu.gcfglobal.org/en/
- Microsoft. Microsoft offers free online training tutorials to help learners use the Office Suite including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Visit: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/training/default.aspx
- The National Retail Federation Foundation. The National Retail Federation Foundation offers free online training for individuals seeking opportunities in retail. Visit: https://nrffoundation.org/riseup
- ED2GO. ED2GO is an online course catalog offered by College of the Canyons with educational courses starting at $30 up to $200. Visit: https://www.ed2go.com/canyons
- Switchboard. Switchboard offers free E-Learning courses on strength-based employment services and understanding employment terminology and job navigation. Visit: https://switchboardta.org/course-list/
- SamaSchool. SamaSchool helps prepare individuals to pursue and succeed in independent/freelance work. Visit: https://www.samaschool.org
- EntreSkills. Developed by the New York Small Business Development Center, EntreSkills helps potential entrepreneurs develop their business concepts. Visit: https://entreskills.org/
- The Small Business Training Network. The Small Business Training Network, created by the U.S. Small Business Administration, offers online training to help developing and existing small business owners. Visit: https://www.sba.gov/learning-center