Coronavirus Fears Expose Underlying Economic Issues

Published: Tuesday, March 10, 2020 - 3:15pm
Updated: Tuesday, March 10, 2020 - 3:24pm

Businesses looking to head off the coronavirus have asked some employees to stay home. But not all workers can afford to stay home.

One in four U.S. workers do not have paid sick time. And that’s seven out of 10 for low-wage workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Dr. Sanjeev Khagram is dean of the Thunderbird School of Global Management at ASU.

He says the coronavirus amplifies economic disparities but also that the underlying wage and benefits issue exposes a longer-term problem.

“That’s a bigger change having to do with technological change that’s happening. You know, artificial intelligence, the internet of things, all these new technologies that make us really scared about the future," Khagram said. 

Khagram said workers facing a coronavirus-focused downturn need to look at the larger economic risk — an economy that has no built-in support for its skilled labor.

"I don't think anyone should worry that the economy is going to leave us behind in terms of the coronavirus. There may be larger impacts on all of us, but they are going to be widely felt if that's the case. It won't be just the poor or the working class or the rich," Khagram said. 

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