COUNTRIES ARE beginning to emerge from economic lockdown. As they do, the statistics show how different segments of the population have been affected by the pandemic. And the evidence is clear that the virus has widened existing divides between professionals, low-paid workers and the young.
Start with the most fortunate. Many professionals can easily work at home, replacing one-to-one meetings with phone calls and group meetings with Zoom gatherings or Google hangouts. These “Zoomers” are mostly working on full pay and are currently being spared the daily commute. For them, the lockdown may be an inconvenience (particularly if they have children) but it is not a threat to their standards of living.
For many others, however, the pandemic is a serious threat. Some are key workers, who have to attend their jobs and are at more risk from the virus. Others cannot work from home and have either lost their jobs or seen their incomes cut (despite help from government schemes). Many in this group were already in a weaker position than the Zoomers, because they were in jobs with lower wages or less security.
Some people in this less fortunate group can be dubbed the “zeros”. In Britain, almost three-quarters of those on zero-hours contracts are key workers or work in shut-down sectors, says the Resolution Foundation, a...
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