Income Inequality Media ArticlesExcerpts of Key Income Inequality Media Articles in Major Media
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A COVID-19 envoy appointed by Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has appealed to world leaders to stop resorting to lockdown to control the pandemic. Dr David Nabarro, who has spent his career working for the WHO and the United Nations (UN), seems to have marked a departure from the global health body’s early stance on the COVID-19 pandemic, warning about the economic and social consequences of lockdown as a means of controlling the spread of the disease. On Sunday, Dr Nabarro appealed to world leaders to stop ‘using lockdowns as your primary control method’, insisting that such drastic measures can have a dire impact on global poverty rates. The British doctor stated: ‘We in the World Health Organisation do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus. ‘The only time we believe a lockdown is justified is to buy you time to reorganise, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted, but by and large, we’d rather not do it.’ Dr Nabarro went on to say that developing economies had been indirectly affected by lockdown measures, adding: ‘Look what’s happened to smallholder farmers all over the world — look what’s happening to poverty levels. ‘It seems that we may well have a doubling of world poverty by next year. We may well have at least a doubling of child malnutrition. Lockdowns just have one consequence that you must never ever belittle, and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer.’
Billionaires have seen their fortunes hit record highs during the pandemic, with top executives from technology and industry earning the most. The world's richest saw their wealth climb 27.5% to $10.2trn (Ł7.9trn) from April to July this year, according to a report from Swiss bank UBS. That was up from the previous peak of $8.9trn at the end of 2017 and largely due to rising global share prices. UBS said billionaires had done "extremely well" in the Covid crisis. It also said the number of billionaires had hit a new high of 2,189, up from 2,158 in 2017. It comes as a World Bank report on Wednesday showed extreme poverty is set to rise this year for the first time in more than two decades due to the pandemic. Among the billionaires, the biggest winners this year have been industrialists, whose wealth rose a staggering 44% in the three months to July. "Industrials benefited disproportionately as markets priced in a significant economic recovery [after lockdowns around the world]," UBS said. Tech billionaires have also had a good pandemic, seeing their wealth soar 41%. UBS said this was "due to the corona-induced demand for their goods and services" and social distancing accelerating "digital businesses [and] compressing several years' evolution into a few months". Healthcare billionaires also benefited as the crisis put drug makers and medical device companies in the spotlight.
The world’s wealthiest individuals have become even richer during the coronavirus pandemic as the prices of financial assets have been supported by widespread policy intervention while employment and wages, well, not so much. The Institute for Policy Studies, a liberal think tank in Washington, chronicles just how bifurcated the road the recovery from an economy slump is likely to be. At the upper end of the spectrum, the combined wealth of all U.S. billionaires increased by $821 billion or 28% between March 18, 2020 and September 10, 2020, from approximately $2.947 trillion to $3.768 trillion. That means they own the equivalent of nearly 20% of U.S. gross domestic product. The richest five billionaires, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffett, and Elon Musk, saw a 59% increase in their total wealth, from $358 billion to $569 billion. One University of Chicago study found that, between the start of February and the end of June, the lowest-income group had the highest job loss rate while the highest-income workers had the [lowest] rate of lob losses. Black and Hispanic workers were also much more likely to become unemployed during the pandemic than Whites despite their predominant role in work deemed ... essential. As the pandemic forced many industries into remote work, millions of Black and Hispanic workers have been left out. “Only 19.7% of Black and 16.2% of Latinx people work in jobs where they are able to telework, compared to 29.9% of White and 37.0% of Asian workers,” the report said.
The level of hunger in U.S. households almost tripled between 2019 and August of this year, according to an analysis of new data from the Census Bureau and the Department of Agriculture. Even more alarming, the proportion of American children who sometimes do not have enough to eat is now as much as 14 times higher than it was last year. The Agriculture Department conducts yearly studies on food insecurity in the U.S., with its report on 2019 released this month. The Census Bureau began frequent household surveys in April in response to Covid-19 that include questions about hunger. The analysis, by the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, found that 3.7 percent of U.S. households reported they sometimes or often had “not enough to eat” during 2019. Meanwhile, the most recent Census data from the end of August of this year showed that 10 percent of households said they sometimes or often did not have enough to eat within the past seven days. Levels of food insecurity in Black and Latino households are significantly higher, at 19 percent and 17 percent, respectively, compared to 7 percent in white households. Remarkably, this increase in hunger has nothing to do with any actual shortage of food. It is purely the result of political decisions.
Note: How much is severe collateral damage like this from the coronavirus lockdown policies being considered? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on income inequality from reliable major media sources.
Millions of Americans have lost jobs during a pandemic that kept restaurants, shops and public institutions closed for months and hit the travel industry hard. While lower-wage workers have borne much of the brunt, the crisis is wreaking a particular kind of havoc on the debt-laden middle class. Before the pandemic, Americans had amassed $4.2 trillion in consumer debt, excluding mortgages, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, a record even when adjusting for inflation. Housing debt added an additional $10 trillion to the tally. The coronavirus has spared few industries and expanded unemployment benefits designed to replace the average American income didn’t cover all the lost pay of higher-earning workers, especially in or near expensive cities. The extra $600 weekly payments expired in July, putting them even further behind. Unemployment has fallen from its pandemic peak of near 15%, but the rate stood at 8.4% in August, up from 3.5% in February, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Unemployment for the arts, design, media, sports and entertainment was 12.7% in August, more than triple its year-earlier level. In education, it more than doubled to 10.2%. Sales and office unemployment was 7.8% in August, up from 3.8% in August 2019. It could get worse. Many people who have jobs are struggling with pay cuts. As of August, 17 million workers were getting paid less due to the pandemic. Some 9.5 million took pay cuts; the remaining 7.5 million are working fewer hours.
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The elephant in the room is extreme income inequality. How big is this elephant? A staggering $50 trillion. That is how much the upward redistribution of income has cost American workers over the past several decades ... according to a groundbreaking new working paper by Carter C. Price and Kathryn Edwards of the RAND Corporation. Had the more equitable income distributions of the three decades following World War II (1945 through 1974) merely held steady, the aggregate annual income of Americans earning below the 90th percentile would have been $2.5 trillion higher in the year 2018 alone. That is an amount equal to nearly 12 percent of GDP - enough to more than double median income - enough to pay every single working American in the bottom nine deciles an additional $1,144 a month. Price and Edwards calculate that the cumulative tab for our four-decade-long experiment in radical inequality had grown to over $47 trillion from 1975 through 2018. As a result, the top 1 percent’s share of total taxable income has more than doubled, from 9 percent in 1975, to 22 percent in 2018, while the bottom 90 percent have seen their income share fall, from 67 percent to 50 percent. This represents a direct transfer of income ... from the vast majority of working Americans to a handful at the very top. A 2014 report from the OECD estimated that rising income inequality knocked as much 9 points off U.S. GDP growth over the previous two decades.
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Income inequality has given the rich a greater share of the economic spoils than middle- and low-income earners. That's resulted in a very real impact on the incomes of middle- and low-income households, with the typical full-time American worker now earning $42,000 less than they would have if inequality hadn't surged over the last four decades. That's according to a new analysis from researchers at Rand, the global policy think tank. Its researchers wanted to look at the dollars-and-cents impact on U.S. households from yawning income inequality. Prior to the mid-1970s, Americans' incomes, no matter their level, generally rose in step with overall economic growth. That changed in the late 1970s, with the rich capturing the lion's share of economic growth, while middle-class and lower-income workers eked out gains far below par. In 2018, the typical full-time worker earned about $50,000 — but if that same worker had kept up with the economy's expansion, they would have earned $92,000 annually, the Rand analysis found. Only the top 5% of Americans have enjoyed earnings that approached or exceeded the nation's economic growth. Meanwhile, the top 1% has come out far ahead, gaining a far greater share of economic growth than they did prior to the 1970s. The typical person in the top 1% earned $1.4 million in 2018, but would have earned $630,000 – less than half that amount – were it not for benefitting from widening inequality, the analysis found.
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U.S. stocks are hovering near a record high, a stunning comeback since March that underscores the new phase the economy has entered: The wealthy have mostly recovered. The bottom half remain far from it. Jobs are fully back for the highest wage earners, but fewer than half the jobs lost this spring have returned for those making less than $20 an hour. The pandemic is causing especially large gaps between rich and poor, and between White and minority households. It is also widening the gap between big and small businesses. Some of the largest companies, such as Nike and Best Buy, are enjoying their highest stock prices ever while many smaller businesses fight for survival. Some economists have started to call this a “K-shaped” recovery because of the diverging prospects for the rich and poor, and they say policy failures in Washington are exacerbating the problems. For many of the unemployed, the downturn is lasting far longer than they had anticipated. Nearly 80 percent of furloughed or laid-off workers thought they would be rehired, a Washington Post-Ipsos poll conducted April 27-May 4 found. Yet so far, only 42 percent of jobs have returned. “This has been a very clear K-shaped recovery,” says Peter Atwater ... at the College of William & Mary. “The biggest and wealthiest have been on a clear path toward recovery. Meanwhile, for most small businesses and those worst off, things have only become worse. The contrast is piercing: One group feels better than ever while the other borders on hopelessness.”
For 23 years, Larry Collins worked in a [toll] booth. But one day in mid-March, as confirmed cases of the coronavirus were skyrocketing, Collins’ supervisor called and told him not to come into work the next day. Collins’ job was disappearing, as were the jobs of around 185 other toll collectors at bridges in Northern California, all to be replaced by technology. The drive to replace humans with machinery is accelerating as companies struggle to avoid workplace infections of COVID-19 and to keep operating costs low. The U.S. shed around 40 million jobs at the peak of the pandemic. Some will never return. One group of economists estimates that 42% of the jobs lost are gone forever. This replacement of humans with machines may pick up more speed in coming months as companies move from survival mode to figuring out how to operate while the pandemic drags on. Robots could replace as many as 2 million more workers in manufacturing alone by 2025. “Look at the business model of Google, Facebook, Netflix. They’re not in the business of creating new tasks for humans,” says Daron Acemoglu, an MIT economist. The U.S. government incentivizes companies to automate, he says, by giving tax breaks for buying machinery and software. A business that pays a worker $100 pays $30 in taxes, but a business that spends $100 on equipment pays about $3 in taxes, he notes. The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act lowered taxes on purchases so much that “you can actually make money buying equipment,” Acemoglu says.
Disruption to food production and supplies due to COVID-19 could cause more deaths from starvation than the disease itself, according to an Oxfam report. The report found that 121 million more people could be “pushed to the brink of starvation this year” as a result of disruption to food production and supplies, diminishing aid as well as mass unemployment. The report estimates that COVID-19 related hunger could cause 12,000 deaths per day: the peak global mortality rate for COVID-19 in April was 10,000 deaths per day. “COVID-19 is the last straw for millions of people already struggling with the impacts of conflict, climate change, inequality and a broken food system that has impoverished millions of food producers and workers,” said Oxfam’s Interim Executive Director Chema Vera. Oxfam says Yemen, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Afghanistan, Venezuela, the West African Sahel, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, and Haiti are “extreme hunger hotspots” that are likely to be severely affected by the pandemic. Women, who also make up a significant portion of informal workers, are more likely to have been severely affected by lockdown measures. The report notes that there are enough funds globally to address starvation. Eight out of ten of the biggest food and drink companies paid more than $18 billion to shareholders since the beginning of this year, an amount that is “ten times more than the UN says is needed to stop people going hungry,” according to the report.
The world economy is expected to contract by 5.2 percent this year - the worst recession in 80 years - but the sheer number of countries suffering economic losses means the scale of the downturn is worse than any recession in 150 years, the World Bank said in its latest Global Economic Prospects report. The depth of the crisis will drive 70 to 100 [million] people into extreme poverty - worse than the prior estimate of 60 million. Economists have been struggling to measure the impact of the crisis they have likened to a global natural disaster, but the sheer size of the impact across so many sectors and countries has made it hard to calculate, and made predictions about any recovery highly uncertain. Under the worst-case scenario, the global recession could mean a contraction of eight percent, according to the report. There remain some "exceptionally high" risks to the outlook, particularly if the current outbreaks linger or rebound, causing authorities to re-impose restrictions that could make the downturn as bad as eight percent. "Disruptions to activity would weaken businesses' ability to remain in operation and service their debt," the report cautioned. That, in turn, could raise interest rates for higher-risk borrowers and, "With debt levels already at historic highs, this could lead to cascading defaults and financial crises across many economies." But even if the 4.2 percent global recovery projected for 2021 materializes, "In many countries, deep recessions triggered by COVID-19 will likely weigh on potential output for years to come."
Note: What this article fails to mention is that it is not the pandemic that is driving all this, but rather the questionable lockdown policies developed to address the pandemic. Sweden, which has never instituted a lockdown, did not spiral out of control and has been less impacted economically. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus and income inequality from reliable major media sources.
An inspiring discussion about racism between a white woman and black man ... has captured the attention of [millions]. Caroline Brock and Ernest Skelton share a special relationship. It all started with Skelton coming over to fix one of her appliances. “People judge me before I even come in the door, so that’s the reason why I ask, ‘Is it OK for me to come in?’” said Skelton. The question caught Brock completely off guard. Over the weekend, Skelton went back over to Brock’s home for second appliance repair appointment. That’s when Brock asked him a question that was a little more personal. “How are you doing right now given the current climate?” Brock wanted to know what the day-to-day life of a black man is like. Skelton opened up and told her some stories about how racism has affected him. He gets pulled over in his work vehicle at least half a dozen times a year. “I don’t even remember the last time I was pulled over,” Brock said. “Sometimes I have customers that need me after 5 o’clock and I have to reschedule for another day. I’m afraid that I’ll wind up getting pulled over, and this time, I won’t make it home," Skelton said. Brock asked Ernest if she could post their interaction on Facebook. He thought it would be a great idea. A few days later, they had more than 100,000 shares. “In the comments ... a lot of white people say, ‘I’d love to have these conversations, but I’m scared ... I’m going to offend someone,’" Brock explained. But Skelton said he wasn’t offended. “If we want to change the world and make our country stronger, we have to be willing to step into the uncomfortableness," Brock said. The two hope that their interaction can inspire others to open up the conversation.
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The Internal Revenue Service is letting hundreds of thousands of high-income individuals duck tax obligations, according to a government watchdog report. The Treasury inspector general for tax administration found that 879,415 high-income individuals who didn’t file returns cumulatively failed to pay $45.7 billion in taxes from 2014 to 2016 and that the agency hasn’t tried to collect from many of those taxpayers. The IRS didn’t input 326,579 of the cases into its enforcement system, and it closed 42,601 of the cases without ever working on them. “In addition, the remaining 510,235 high-income nonfilers, totaling estimated tax due of $24.9 billion, are sitting in one of the Collection function’s inventory streams and will likely not be pursued as resources decline,” the report, released Monday, found. The report defines high-income taxpayers as those earning at least $100,000. The IRS didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but agency management in the report agreed with a recommendation to prioritize collecting from people who didn’t file tax returns.
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The growing gap between America’s rich and everyone else is hardly new. But the extra-ordinarily rapid economic collapse catalyzed by COVID-19 has made the chasm deeper and wider. Since mid-March, more than 30 million people have filed for unemployment. Meanwhile, after a steep but brief dip in March, the stock market rallied. The richest and most well–connected are seeing their wealth reaccumulate, as if by magic, while middle- and working–class families drown in debt that deepens with every passing week. The contrast isn’t just between low-wage workers and billionaire bosses. Bills are mounting for small restaurants and retailers as their applications for the federal Paycheck Protection Program go unanswered. Small retailers closed to comply with social–distancing orders while e-commerce sales, especially from the biggest online platforms, have spiked. Assistance is most readily available to those with lawyers and lobbyists on the payroll. It’s not an exaggeration to say that inequality has the potential to undermine democratic society and threaten global stability. Only about 1 in 4 adults in lower-income households say they have enough money to cover expenses for three months in the case of an emergency. The majority of people laid off are working–class and disproportionately women and people of color. One lost job or missed rent payment threatens to tip them into an economic abyss. More businesses will fail, creating more unemployment and further diminishing consumer demand. About 12.7 million Americans have likely lost employer–provided health insurance since the pandemic began. The richest are steadily climbing ever higher while workers without stable jobs, incomes or savings are sent plummeting downward.
Note: Note that the financial ruin is not caused by the virus, but by the severe lockdown policies being implemented. These policies have no scientific basis. Meanwhile in Sweden with no lockdown policies, no one is being arrested, the country has not spiraled out of control as predicted, and the economy is fairing well. Is it worth saving thousand of lives with these severe policies at the cost of hundreds of millions being plunged into poverty worldwide? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
The Covid-19 pandemic is putting the deepening class divide in America into stark relief. Four new classes are emerging. The Remotes: These are professional, managerial, and technical workers – an estimated 35% of the workforce – who are putting in long hours at their laptops ... and collecting about the same pay as before the crisis. The Essentials: They’re about 30% of workers, including nurses, homecare and childcare workers, farm workers, food processors, truck drivers, warehouse and transit workers, drugstore employees, sanitation workers, police officers, firefighters, and the military. Too many Essentials lack adequate protective gear, paid sick leave, health insurance, and childcare. They also deserve hazard pay. The Unpaid: They’re an even larger group than the unemployed – whose ranks could soon reach 25%, the same as in the Great Depression. 43% of adults report they or someone in their household has lost jobs or pay. The unpaid most need cash to feed their families and pay the rent. Fewer than half say they have enough emergency funds to cover three months of expenses. The Forgotten: This group includes everyone ... packed tightly into places most Americans don’t see: prisons, jails for undocumented immigrants, camps for migrant farmworkers, Native American reservations, homeless shelters, and nursing homes. The Essentials, the Unpaid, and the Forgotten are disproportionately poor, black, and Latino and they are disproportionately becoming infected.
The COVID-19 pandemic is far from a great equalizer. In the same month that 22 million Americans lost their jobs, the American billionaire class’s total wealth increased about 10%—or $282 billion more than it was at the beginning of March. They now have a combined net worth of $3.229 trillion. The initial stock market crash may have dented some net worths at first—for instance, that of Jeff Bezos, which dropped down to a mere $105 billion on March 12. But his riches have rebounded: As of April 15, his net worth has increased by $25 billion. These “pandemic profiteers,” as a new report from the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive think tank, calls them, is just one piece of the wealth inequality puzzle in America. In the background is the fact that since 1980, the taxes paid by billionaires, measured as a percentage of their wealth, dropped 79%. “We’re reading about benevolent billionaires sharing .0001% of their wealth with their fellow humans in this crisis, but in fact they’ve been rigging the tax rules to reduce their taxes for decades—money that could have been spent building a better public health infrastructure,” says Chuck Collins [of] the Institute for Policy Studies and coauthor of the new report, titled “Billionaire Bonanza 2020: Wealth Windfalls, Tumbling Taxes, and Pandemic Profiteers.” Another key finding of the report is that after the 2008 financial crisis, it took less than 30 months for billionaire wealth to return to its pre-meltdown levels. That wealth then quickly exceeded pre-2008 levels. But as of 2019, the middle class in America has not even yet recovered to the level of its 2007 net worth.
Note: This New York Post article shows how 43,000 millionaires in the U.S. will receive a "stimulus" gift averaging $1.6 million each. At the same time, this Reuters article claims that the coronavirus lockdown could plunge half a billion worldwide into poverty. And this BBC article warns of potential massive famines. So who is this lockdown really serving? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the coronavirus from reliable major media sources.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought hunger to millions of people around the world. National lockdowns and social distancing measures are drying up work and incomes, and are likely to disrupt agricultural production and supply routes — leaving millions to worry how they will get enough to eat. Already, 135 million people had been facing acute food shortages, but now with the pandemic, 130 million more could go hungry in 2020, said Arif Husain, chief economist at the World Food Program, a United Nations agency. Altogether, an estimated 265 million people could be pushed to the brink of starvation by year’s end. “We’ve never seen anything like this before,” Mr. Husain said. “It wasn’t a pretty picture to begin with, but this makes it truly unprecedented and uncharted territory.” This hunger crisis, experts say, is global and caused by a multitude of factors linked to the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing interruption of the economic order: the sudden loss in income for countless millions who were already living hand-to-mouth; the collapse in oil prices; widespread shortages of hard currency from tourism drying up; overseas workers not having earnings to send home; and ongoing problems like climate change, violence ... and humanitarian disasters. The curfews and restrictions on movement are already devastating the meager incomes of displaced people. The effects of the restrictions “may cause more suffering than the disease itself,” said Kurt Tjossem ... at the International Rescue Committee.
At least 43,000 American millionaires who are too rich to get coronavirus stimulus checks are getting a far bigger boost — averaging $1.6 million each, according to a congressional committee. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act trumpeted its assistance for working families and small businesses, but it apparently contains an even bigger benefit for wealthy business owners, the committee found. The act allows pass-through businesses — ones taxed under individual income, rather than corporate — an unlimited amount of deductions against their non-business income, such as capital gains. They can also use losses to avoid paying taxes in other years. That gives the roughly 43,000 individual tax filers who make at least $1 million a year a savings of $70.3 billion — or about $1.6 million apiece, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. Hedge-fund investors and real estate business owners are “far and away” the ones who will benefit the most, tax expert Steve Rosenthal [said]. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) claimed that “someone wrongly seized on this health emergency to reward ultrarich beneficiaries.” “For those earning $1 million annually, a tax break buried in the recent coronavirus relief legislation is so generous that its total cost is more than total new funding for all hospitals in America and more than the total provided to all state and local governments,” he stressed in a statement.
Amid a humanitarian crisis compounded by mass layoffs and collapsing economic activity, the last course our legislators should be following is the one they appear to be on right now: bailing out shareholders and executives who, while enriching themselves, spent the past decade pushing business corporations to the edge of insolvency. The $500bn dollars of public money that Congress’s relief bill provides will be used for a corporate bailout, with the only oversight in the hands of an independent council similar to the one used in the 2008 financial crisis. While that body was able to report misuses of taxpayer money, it could do nothing to stop them. As currently structured, there is nothing to keep this bailout from, like its predecessor, putting cash directly into the hands of those at the top rather than into the hands of workers. Without strong regulation and accountability, asking corporations to preserve jobs with these funds will be nothing more than a simple suggestion, leaving millions of everyday Americans in financial peril. If not properly managed, this economic disaster has the potential to be the worst in American history. Our country cannot allow a small number of executives and shareholders to profit from taxpayer funds that we have injected into these corporations for reasons of pure emergency. We need to stop this rot at the core of our economic system and realign the priorities of government with those of workers and consumers.
The fallout from the coronavirus spread that has killed more than 83,000 people and wreaked havoc on economies around the world could push around half a billion people into poverty, Oxfam said on Thursday. The report released by the Nairobi-based charity ahead of next week's International Monetary Fund (IMF)/World Bank annual meeting calculated the impact of the crisis on global poverty due to shrinking household incomes or consumption. "The economic crisis that is rapidly unfolding is deeper than the 2008 global financial crisis," the report found. "The estimates show that, regardless of the scenario, global poverty could increase for the first time since 1990," it said, adding that this could throw some countries back to poverty levels last seen some three decades ago. Under the most serious scenario - a 20% contraction in income - the number of people living in extreme poverty would rise by 434 million people to nearly 1.2 billion worldwide. Women are at more risk than men, as they are more likely to work in the informal economy with little or no employment rights. "Living day to day, the poorest people do not have the ability to take time off work, or to stockpile provisions," the report warned, adding that more than 2 billion informal sector workers worldwide had no access to sick pay. To help mitigate the impact, Oxfam proposed a six point action plan that would deliver cash grants and bailouts to people and businesses in need, and also called for debt cancellation, more IMF support, and increased aid.
Note: The New York Times strangely removed this article. Yet it is also available on the Reuters website. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on income inequality and the coronavirus pandemic from reliable major media sources.
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