Job losses that aren’t reflected in the unemployment figures also exact a toll.
Cindy Fraser used to work three jobs: as a church custodian in Redford, Mich., as a house cleaner, and as a florist specializing in weddings and special events.
When the pandemic hit, her housecleaning and florist gigs dried up. She held on to her custodial job, working about 25 hours a week at $10 an hour. But without the income from her side jobs, she has struggled to keep up with her monthly bills, including a $650 mortgage payment, a $350 car payment, $150 for car insurance and $300 for utilities. She applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federal program for part-time workers and others ordinarily ineligible for state jobless benefits, but was told she did not qualify.
Ms. Fraser, 54, is a single mother of four children and lives with her two younger daughters, 15 and 16, one of whom has a genetic condition and several autoimmune disorders that make her vulnerable to the coronavirus.
Ms. Fraser has to be selective about taking additional work because she worries about exposure to the virus in a store or a restaurant.
“I can’t get sick, because if either one of my daughters gets sick, I am the only parent to take care of them,” she said. “So I have to be extremely choosy as to what kind of jobs I can take so I don’t bring the virus into my home. I can’t just go get a job at Walmart.”
To make ends meet, Ms. Fraser has been relying on the $2,000 a month in survivor benefits she has received since her husband died and has spent nearly all of her savings, about $5,000.
“I had wanted to save that money for my daughters’ college tuition and driver’s training,” she said. “But now, it’s just going toward keeping a roof over their head.”