The following is the opinion and analysis of the writer:
A thousand unsaid goodbyes, lost jobs and income and uncertainty have been on every Tucsonan’s mind recently. Overnight, businesses shuttered, jobs were lost, and people’s hopes and dreams were put on hold in the midst of an unprecedented time in history.
I am a student journalist at the University of Arizona. I was thriving at my internship position at Arizona Public Media. I also had a retail job at the mall and a full course load. I was working on important stories at AZPM, including one about how the minimum-wage increase would impact young working people. On Wednesday, March 18, the University canceled all in-person internships. Just like that, it was all over.
That day was also the last day of business at my job for the foreseeable future. When I left my shift, my co-workers and I gave an uncertain “Good luck” to one another, unsure of when we would see each other again. I walked outside into my new reality.
I know I’m not the only one with an unclear employment future. The day after I lost my job and my internship because of COVID-19 mitigation efforts, my mother lost her serving job for the foreseeable future. While I am lucky to be getting paid during this time off, many in the service industry are not. And unfortunately, my mother falls into that category. The unemployment rate in Arizona has been at a fairly steady 4.5% since August of 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. I would imagine when the full March statistics are published, that number will be unfathomably high.
Many economists predict a recession resulting from this pandemic. Bloomberg recently conducted a study about what the economic fallout could be. They found that in China, “automobile sales have plunged 80%” and that “GDP growth in the first quarter of 2020 has slowed to 1.2%,” which is one of the slowest years in recent memory. And that’s just China, which seems to have curbed the infection thus far, through aggressive campaigns to keep people at home.
My mother didn’t seem fazed by this, though. Coronavirus gave her “precious time to spend with my children.” We sat on the couch while she applied for unemployment. She has lived a lot longer than me, and has been through unimaginable and sometimes devastating circumstances. Still, all she can really hope for is that we all “love one another” in the end.
One of my best friends from school and the hardest worker I know, Savina Bello, is a psychological sciences major. Ever since I’ve met her, she has always put others before herself, even when she is carrying a full course load and conducting research in her field on top of it. “I feel like I’m losing out on important items,” she said. While the university is doing everything they can to accommodate us, the online classes make focusing much more difficult. “It is definitely hard to stay motivated and focused,” she added.
The world is hurting, and it is hard as a student journalist to have to watch all the suffering – and not be able to be out on the streets reporting about it.
The decisions the UA provost made to protect the campus community from the virus by social distancing were the right ones in terms of public health. But in terms of our future employment? It is hard to feel anything but stressed.
All we can do now is “move forward” with our lives, my mother says.
Anika Pasilis is a student in the University of Arizona’s school of journalism.
Concerned about COVID-19?
Sign up now to get the most recent coronavirus headlines and other important local and national news sent to your email inbox daily.