I find myself with a palpable sense of dread today. A decent amount of it is just this general world-encompassing malaise that I assume afflicts most people at the moment. Anxiety is a fairly natural part of such tragedies and we must acknowledge it and carry on as best we can. This is hardly the worst crisis we as a species have ever faced.
The little economist in my head finds many aspects of it quite fascinating and curious. It seems somehow wrong to take any enjoyment from the consequences of events, but they are what we have. One of those categories right now is incentives.
See, a local employer is offering all of the employees an “appreciation pay” for coming to work to the tune of $80 a week, or so I’ve been told. From my perspective this is basically hazard pay, hoping that a little extra cash will prove enough incentive to get enough people to set aside their health concerns and walk in the door. I’m not sure how that works out in a cost/benefit way for the employees, but it’s clearly an incentive.
In watching a variety of economic indicators move past us, it seems clear that we’re entering a recessionary period. This really shouldn’t be news to anyone at the point. As such, I expect most employers to begin deploying cost-saving measures. We’re entering a time in which expenses are way up on screening, masks, and preventive measures while income is likely dropping due to softening demand. Based on the timeline of how the 2008 crisis played out I figured we had about a month for sales to drop and 2-3 months before permanent downsizing started.
One of my friends at the other company told me yesterday that they’re stopping all overtime hours. While I doubt that is a huge problem for most of their employees, he was telling me that this is a 20% reduction in hours for him. Would that be a 30% decrease in pay at time and a half? Either way, the overtime added up to more than the appreciation pay, so he now makes less per week than before.
Their incentive has, to some extent, become a disincentive. Especially when you consider my county of residence, where the other company is at, just had it’s number of confirmed covid cases double yesterday. An increase in risk and a decrease in pay sounds like a recipe for trouble.
The dread comes from knowing that things like this aren’t limited to a single individual. There are many people county-wide, nation-wide, and world-wide facing similar circumstances or worse. On that scale, this hurts the “economy.”
If that insanity weren’t enough watching our governor attempt to “open the state” back up when our little rural corner is just now catching its stride for infection isn’t helping. I’m wearing a face-covering when in public, but most people aren’t. I had to make a quick stop to get some cat food the other day and the smaller store I was in didn’t have anyone else in a mask. Not the employees, not the customers, just me. The sum total of where we are locally and where we seem to be headed is horrifying. My employer is requiring masks, effective next week, but it just seems like too little, too late.
I’m really hoping that I’m wrong, and it’s just anxiety getting the better of me. That somehow I am merely looking through a darkly tinted window.
Having said that, y’all stay safe out there. Please.
Hey, it’s Blapril time! The goal is to simply promote and stimulate the blogging community by encouraging people of all skill levels and backgrounds to post. The official post can be found here and it’s never too late to start.