Healthcare Career Trends (NYC Edition — Edward Lai’s Perspective)

Edward Lai speaking at a Health Event during his tenure as Corporate Director of Asian Initiatives at The Allure Group

Edward Lai, currently the Vice President of Business Development at Bensonhurst Rehabilitation Center, Hopkins Center and Fairview Rehab discusses the types of job opportunities that are trending in today’s healthcare industry, shares his own career insights and how candidates can best prepare for those career prospects.

Audience: Job Seekers — those looking to pivot their careers into healthcare or even just considering to begin their career in healthcare.


What is the Trend?

America is aging. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s National Population Projections, in the next few decades, 1 in every 5 residents will be older than age 65, a number that’s projected to outpace those younger than 18 for the first time in history. By 2050, the senior population will have doubled to 90 million. More specifically, the number of adults ages 85 and older will nearly quadruple.

According to a study by the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care, as the population ages, 8% will have cognitive impairments, 60% will have mobility limitations and 20% will have high needs.

According to Edward, “Cognitive impairments means that mental status will be down, they may not know what they may be doing at times and it happens a lot. We see a lot of these kinds of patients in nursing homes. Mobility limitations are from strokes, from surgery, and a lot of different types of effects on the patient’s well-being as they get older. I suspect the high needs are bed down patients which we will be caring for. So this is the trend in America which is why healthcare is blooming.


Ten Reasons To Consider a Healthcare Career

This is the reason why Edward ended up with this career path.

  • You’ll enjoy job security. “During Covid lockdown, there have been unfortunate events that happened like being laid off and companies going out of business — but I have not missed a day of work. I was here everyday serving the patients.”
  • You will do work that interests you. “You will get to pick the field that you find most interesting to you to pursue your work in.”
  • You can live and work anywhere you want. “Once you have that profession, like a nurse, nurse practitioner, physical therapist — you name it, technically you can work in all states and everyone needs your service.”
  • You can find a health career that fits your educational plans. “What that means is that if you don’t want credentials that require a lot of schooling. For example, you don’t want to do 4 years of nursing school but you only want to do 2 years, then studying to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) would be the best option for you. You are still a nurse, but a lower grade nurse — in this case that fit your needs.”
  • You can learn by reading and doing. “Healthcare is pretty straightforward.”
  • You can get help to pay for school. “Definitely true. My sister went to nursing school. There’s a lot of scholarships and grants. You want to pay for your schooling so you can hurry up and get into position to serve the population in the hospital — so there are actually a lot of opportunities.”
  • You’ll have a clear path to advancement. “You go in as entry-level and in several years, you may be offered a higher level position, whether it is a nurse manager, a rehab director, you name it.”
  • You will earn a good salary. “Definitely true, but it depends on what you consider a good salary though because most of us won’t earn $1 million a year. In general, it is a pretty good income for many folks.
  • You can work with people, or you can choose not to work with people, “because once you have the credentials, you can do a lot of things in your liking.”
  • You can make a difference in people’s lives. “This is my favorite part because this is what I do on a daily basis.”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections

Employment is projected to grow from 162.8 million to 168.8 million over the 2019–29 decade, an increase of 6.0 million jobs, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. This reflects an annual growth rate of 0.4 percent, slower than the 2009-19 annual growth rate of 1.3 percent, which was bolstered by recovery from the 2007-09 Great Recession. The healthcare and social assistance sector is projected to add the most new jobs, and 6 of the 10 fastest growing occupations are related to healthcare.


Fastest Growing Occupations

OCCUPATIONGROWTH RATE, 2019-292020 MEDIAN PAY
Wind turbine service technicians    61% Growth Rate $56,230 per year
Nurse practitioners    52% Growth Rate $111,680 per year
Solar photovoltaic installers    51% Growth Rate $46,470 per year
Occupational therapy assistants    35% Growth Rate $62,940 per year
Statisticians    35% Growth Rate $92,270 per year
Home health and personal care aides    34% Growth Rate $27,080 per year
Physical therapist assistants    33% Growth Rate $59,770 per year
Medical and health services managers    32% Growth Rate $104,280 per year
Physician assistants    31% Growth Rate $115,390 per year
Information security analysts    31% Growth Rate $103,590 per year
Data scientists and mathematical science occupations, all other    31% Growth Rate $98,230 per year
Derrick operators, oil and gas    31% Growth Rate $47,920 per year
Rotary drill operators, oil and gas    27% Growth Rate $53,820 per year
Roustabouts, oil and gas    25% Growth Rate $39,420 per year
Speech-language pathologists    25% Growth Rate $80,480 per year
Operations research analysts    25% Growth Rate $86,200 per year
Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors    25% Growth Rate $47,660 per year
Forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists    24% Growth Rate $42,150 per year
Cooks, restaurant    23% Growth Rate $28,800 per year
Animal caretakers    23% Growth Rate $26,080 per year
Source: Occupational Outlook Handbook

Listed at #2 in job outlook growth rate 52%, a Nurse practitioner-requires a Master’s degree and extensive nursing experiences, its 2020 median pay is $111,680! These medical professionals are highly sought after because they are working in every medical settings and although they can only work under MDs and DOs; they are practitioners and can perform like a doctor rather independently.

On your #4, the OTA has a growth rate of 35% with a median pay of $62,940. The job requires an OTA license. They work with the occupational therapist.

A very familiar job to many of us, the HHA/PCA is coming in at #6 in job growth at 34%, this is due to population is getting older and the need for home care is in the raise. HHA is averaging a little over 27K in 2020. It is based by the State.

The PTA (#7) is also highly sought after by hospitals and nursing home at a growth of 33% and a median pay of 59K. PTA requires a PTA license and works closely with the physical therapist.

Edward’s profession — and folks in management positions like #8 Medical and Health Services Managers earns an average of just over 6 figures. These are folks like me in management positions, like medical site managers, facility administrators, office managers, marketing executives etc.

Rounding the top 20 growing jobs according to BLS are #9 PA which makes 6 figures and the Speech-Language Pathologist making on an average 80K.


U.S. News Ranked #3 Out of 100 Best Jobs

Nurse Practioner (NP)

“They are seen in hospitals, nursing homes and normal medical practice. They examine and treat patients independently. They don’t need the doctor to stand next to them. They make those determinations on their own. They can ensure proper illness and injured care and disease prevention. They can do treatment and recovery. They can also provide medications. Nurse Practitioners are something I know a lot about because that is what my younger sister wants to become, so she is starting as a Registered Nurse. After a few years of becoming an RN, then you can become a NP once you have all that experience, expertise and higher educations, etc. It is a very good career to have and the salary is also high.”

U.S. News Ranked #70 Out of 100 Best Jobs

Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA)

“They work very closely with the rehab team in nursing homes. They can also work in hospitals. Very good pay. This job does not require a 4 year degree. basically you just need to get the license. It’s roughly about over 1 year. A lot of people get an Associate’s Degree within 2 years. It is a very easy occupation to enter. The salary range is $55K-$67K annually. Based on this compensation and work environment, this is a very rewarding profession. You basically work in a rehab gym — it is very safe, quiet and this position typically has its own schedule. It is very flexible and spaced out. You normally would work with each patient for about 45 minutes to 1 hour at a time. The COTA helps patients perform activities of daily living as they recover from their illness and injury. The COTA basically works under the Care Plan.

In case you are not aware, Occupational Therapy is not like Physical Therapy. OT focuses more on the upper body like using your hand movements, getting up from your bed, etc. PT focuses more on the lower body.”

U.S. News Ranked #28 Out of 100 Best Jobs

Home Health Aide (HHA)

“It is pretty surprising that the HHA position is ranked so high in the BLS Projections and U.S. News 100 Best Jobs. You may think working as an HHA is so simple since there is no specific educational requirements. You can just obtain a license from many places fairly easily. Many HHA agencies do not require you to pay. You just go to school, they pay for your license or they reimburse you, and you get the job.

HHAs spend a lot of time with their clients in their own home and assist them with their daily living and activities such as cooking for them, cleaning up the house and accompany them to medical appointments, etc. This job is very high in demand right now and it doesn’t seem to stop anytime soon. They have fringe benefits as well and typically in NYC I would say the salary is about $35K to begin with.”

U.S. News Ranked #13 Out of 100 Best Jobs

Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA)

“The national average salary for this role is $63K. The PTA prepares the patient and equipment for therapy and implements the treatment plans. They do exercivses, stretching, maneuvers, and they help the patient to increase their mobility. Being a PTA requires an Associate Degree. It’s a pretty satisfying job.

In senior year of high school, I went to a rehab hospital in Texas and this hospital basically opened my eyes up. I was volunteering for about 3 weeks. Everyday I was there and I saw how they worked and performed; the way PTAs assisted patients with walking them to see them get better.”

U.S. News Ranked #4 Out of 100 Best Jobs

Medical and Health Services Managers

“Including me, these are administrators, executives, directors, planners, coordinators that works behind the scenes to keep hospitals, nursing homes, group therapies and other healthcare facilities running. We are pretty organized individuals. We are administrators, we work with Department of Health, we hire the staff to provide the care to our patients.

The unemployment rate for this group is just 1.1% and the average salary is about six figures. The average number of jobs in this field are about 133K. In order for you to work in a hospital or nursing home, the minimum requirement would be a Bachelor’s Degree. If you are highly experienced in a certain area like Marketing or Healthcare Management, they can always look at other options. There is no certification per se, basically a lot of us are just providing opportunities somehow because we have been doing this for a while.

For example, I have been working in this field for 9 years in home care setting. After a while if your boss trusts you, you get more responsibilities and from there — you just grow. I am very fortunate that I was provided that opportunity.”

U.S. News Ranked #1 Out of 100 Best Jobs

Physician Assistant

“This profession is needed for medical practitioners to see patients — diagnose and treat. Normally when a doctor comes in the room to see patients, they are not really MDs (allopathic doctor) or DOs (osteopathic doctor). Those are the big doctors. In most cases, it would be the Physician Assistant that would come in to see you. The average for a Physician Assistant — they earn well over six figures and they are very important in the hospital settings because when the patient discharges, they have to be approved by the physician, but most of the time — the Physician is not available so the PA would approve most of those discharges. They would go in to talk to the patients and families to explain different procedures that they have to do and care plans, etc.

Very valuable profession, highly respected in the industry. And one of the reasons why this job is so popular is because the Physician Assistant completes their education in a short amount of time. On the other hand like in medical school, you have to go through 4 years of undergrad, and you have to have 4 years of medical school — after the 4 years, you have residency, internships… it’s just a ton of time that you have to put in and I know many people that went to medical school that failed and it’s just not too pretty.

But for Physician Assistant, some schools offer a Bachelor’s program and the most would be a Master’s program that most schools now require. In New York, I think there’s 1 or 2 schools that allows a Bachelor’s program for the Physician Assistant. So if anyone is interested in this #1 job in the U.S., you guys should take a look since there is a lot of opportunities out there for this profession.”

U.S. News Ranked #7 Out of 100 Best Jobs

Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP)

“Basically for this position, they work in schools. They work for non-profits. They are also in nursing homes as well as hospitals. The average pay is $84K.

They basically access and treat speech and language disorders. They use a lot of cards and games to help people use their speech accordingly. They are wonderful people. A lot of them have their own practice so they can help people regain their speech.

Normally, they would have a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree. And most of these SLPs that I know have some Science Degree. But the ones who work in nursing homes, normally have a certification that allows them to do the swallow test as well — because a lot of times after the patient get a stroke, they would request a test so that we know that they can swallow. It is very important because if they can’t swallow, they can’t eat. If they can’t eat, then we might have some intensive procedures to do the feeding, etc.

A Speech-Language Pathologist does more than just speech. They would help us with these swallow tests. They do need to have a certification — that is required.”


Jobs Not Ranked But Highly In Demand

Registered Nurse (RN), Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) are a few of the many highly demanded jobs. Edward mentions that “these are not ranked by the BLS, but it is ranked as one of the 100 Best Jobs as you can see.”

Registered Nurse (RN)

“The RN position is ranked #37. Why is the RN position so popular? This is actually my recommendation to everyone. I actually missed that opportunity when I was young. I was working as a CNA in college just X amount of years ago. I was working in a nursing home and that was one of my very first jobs, actually.

When I went to college, I went to visit this nursing home in Abilene, Texas and I just feel drawn. So I started working for them as a CNA — the nursing home offered me the opportunity to go to nursing school for free and I turned it down. I was young and pretty naive and I didn’t want to get tied down because they wanted me to sign a 3 year contract.

Now if someone offers you a nursing school education, an opportunity to be and you just spent 3 years of commitment, just take it. I did not.”

So Edward answers WHY? for RN. His personal recommendation is “if you really do have the time, the investment to do this, go for the RN. Basically RNs are the first ones to access the patients. They record the patients’ medical history, symptoms. They work in hospitals and nursing homes — and they basically set up plans for patient care. They operate more into medical equipment. They have to run a lot of tests. They provide a certain comfort in a medical setting because doctors don’t really have times to explain that many things. But when the nurses are treating you, that is the frontline of care. So I believe that nursing is the most important especially since I work in a nursing home — and who’s the most important? Of course it’s the nurses.”

“The opportunity for nursing is tremendous. You start off as an entry-level RN and you start to move towards a different capacity like a Unit Manager, a Floor Manager, you know, like.. very specific units. Like the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), they pay more critical care nurses. Then you can become the Director of Nursing.”

Edward provides a personal touch to this story.. “Recently, I helped this lady from Beijing. She worked at another nursing home. She worked so hard and I can see it. She has such passion for patients so I spoke with the Fairview administrator and we were able to offer her a position as an Assistant Director of Nursing. These are great examples that if you put some hard work into things, you get rewarded. It just happened yesterday that she was able to get this position and she was very happy about it.”

“So what is the earning potential for an RN? You start off as around national average $70K? If you move up to let’s say, an Assistant Director of Nursing over here in my group, then it would be around $140K-$150K. For Director of Nursing, it would be around $180K (this is for nursing homes). If you work in a hospital setting, you are talking about high-level nurse administrators — and those would be over $200K.”

“I think that as a nurse you obviously, especially with COVID — a lot of people say that it is a very dangerous occupation and it is no fun, but that is not the case. A lot of times, you have your PPE; it’s a pretty safe environment to work in. They don’t just throw you in a dangerous (position) for no reason; you will have your protection — and as you move up, it’s pretty much going to be an office job setting. For example, I see a lot of Nurse Managers in an office setting. They are no longer on the floor. As you move up, you are more like a manager, sort of speak.”

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

“The LPN won’t have that much opportunities, but as an LPN — it takes fairly little time for you to complete your education and start working so potentially you can start working for hospitals, nursing homes… Nursing homes mostly, because you will be doing medication and some treatment. Not a lot though, because a lot of the assessment is done by the RN.

However, as an LPN — you have an opportunity as a lower level manager that supervises all the CNAs on the floors as well.”

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

“A CNA is what I started off as and in this position — it is very frontline. You care for the patients, you bathe them, etc.”

Edward emphasizes the importance that “all in all, these 3 positions are highly in demand. After you get out of school, get your license, you will get a job right away — and get a job in my group.”


Top “Entry Level” Healthcare Openings

Edward asserts that, “a lot of 2 year colleges, career schools, Allied Health schools have programs for you to complete your education and be onto a career.”

Allied Health professionals are involved with the delivery of health or related services pertaining to the identification, evaluation and prevention of diseases and disorders; dietary and nutrition services; rehabilitation and health systems management, among others. Allied health professionals, to name a few, include dental hygienists, diagnostic medical sonographers, dietitians, medical technologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, radiographers, respiratory therapists, and speech language pathologists. Many of these professions are ranked by US News, including dental hygienist at #32, medical sonographer at #33 and respiratory therapist at #57.


Think Outside The Box

What Edward wants everyone to do is to think outside the box.

“A lot of times, people will think that all you have are doctors and nurses as healthcare jobs. But that’s not the case with a lot of stuff going on. I want everyone to put some thinking caps on to see what’s out there for them.. really. Do some research and find something that is to your liking.”


Healthcare Jobs That Typically Do Not Require a 4 Year Degree

EMT: No degree or even high school diploma required!
“I have so much respect for them. Just imagine our world without EMTs. What are we going to do? They are usually the first ones there if we need help. They perform CPR, they stop the bleeding, things like that.
To become an EMT, you just go to EMT school. Its about 3-4 months of night school or full-time day hours and you can get the license to start practicing. The average salary is around $36K. Although not a lot of money, they are highly respected.”

LPN: No degree required!
“Most LPNs already have Associate Degrees although no degree is required at this point. Certifications are necessary though.”

Pharmacy Technician: No degree required!
“When you go into Walgreens for example, they all have their license. If you go to your local Chinese pharmacies, many of them do not have their license because you don’t need that to become a Pharmacy Technician.

Medical Coding and Billing: No degree required!
“You have schools to study for medical coding and billing, and there are certificate programs for it but it is not required. Basically after Physicians treat their patients, they don’t bill them. Physicians would just hand over to the medical billers, and the billers according to what procedure is being done — they would submit those coding for payment — to the insurance companies

Medical Assistant: No degree required!
“They have a certificate program and they would have to go for an internship. Most of them are seen at medical clinics. They assist the doctor with a ton of responsibilities from the paper work to medications, to finding he right equipment, etc.”

Surgical Technician: Obtainable within 2 years, AOS degree
“You don’t really hear people talk much about surgical technologists. They basically prep the surgery room, the operation room and they prep it based on what the Physician directs them to do.. For example, if they are performing heart surgery — they will tell them it’s for heart surgery, to prepare equipment like knives, scalpels, cotton balls, etc.”

Licensed Health Insurance/Benefits Advisor: no degree required!
“Typically, you see these types of workers assisting clients with their Medicare applications/enrolling into Medicare programs or other health insurance programs. You actually need a license in order to be able to do that. Medicare programs. They have a base salary and comes with a very nice commission. You can make around $90K.”

CNA: No degree required!

Dental Assistant: No degree required!
“Certification required though.”


How To Prepare for a Career in Healthcare

  • What specific role within the healthcare industry is most suited for you? As Edward suggests, “Just because it is suitable for me, doesn’t mean it is most suitable for you. So you need to find that passion and know what you want to do.”
  • Figure out the time and money investment aspect because as Edward asserts, “some people are willing to spend 6 years of their time to pursue their dreams/goals, while some don’t have the means or patience to do so since they have to provide for their family, etc. We are all in different situations.”
  • Know your own strengths and weaknesses. “I’m bad with science, I’m bad with math so I didn’t pursue being a PA, MP, all those medical professionals. I know I’m very good with selling stuff so I did marketing and I carved out my own path based on that. Slowly but surely, I moved to this level” (now as a Senior Vice President for Business Development at Bensonhurst Nursing Home).
  • Volunteer to get a feel of the industry. “A lot of hospitals, nursing homes and social sectors allow you to volunteer. Get a feel of people. Get a feel of healthcare professionals.”
  • Have commitment towards the credential/degree requirements. “You have to be committed to be able to succeed at a high level. I truly believe that. Once you are committed into something, then you can do it.”

Q&A from Interested Job Seekers to Edward

  • Q: If I want to be a Chinese interpreter, do I have to get licence or certificate? Where can I take them?
    • A: Being an interpreter is an excellent career choice. Being certified definitely gives you a leg up. You should look into being certified as a court interpreter and/or becoming a medical interpreter, I have enclosed the website: https://www.certifiedmedicalinterpreters.org/
  • Q: I am currently in my gap year after a 16-month post-pandemic. I am an administration, office, community support, and data entry specialist. Can you advise what is the benefit as per diem basis administration position for a hospital for someone like me moving from the retail sector into healthcare/hospital? My passion is learning and helping people in the communities. I’ve left NYC for good and now living in the capital state region exploring this much-needed job market.
    • A: Don’t stay away too long from action. Basic administrative role at hospitals are highly competitive. You seem to have a lot of experience from previous jobs, but you are not standing out… so my approach would be to build some relationship via volunteering in the hospital settings and then use those relationships to help you gain entrance. Benefits for working in hospital administrative roles are great benefits and longevity.
  • Q: How long will it take to study LPN? How much is the salary range? Is it possible to take that course even if I am not a nursing student? I am an Engineer from the Philippines. Which is better to study health care aide, LPN or business management? My age is 61 but I look younger than my age and am strong. Which path would you think best suits me with a good salary and demand?
    • A: Good choice! LPN vacancy is expected to grow 11% through 2028. National median pay is 65K, but do not expect that amount especially as a fresh grad. 45K-56K in NY, with nursing home nursing supervisor also as potentials. Great job prospects. NYC schools also hires a fair share of LPN. You do not require any previous nursing school education, but you should have a high school diploma and be able to pass the NCLEX-PN to practice in New York. I would suggest you working as a HHA to start while you attend LPN school, that way you can have some income for the time-being, and that course is super short you can complete with breeze. LPN school takes about 14 months or less. It’s never too old to pursue a dream. My father earned his doctorate at age 60. Here’s a link to one of the nursing schools: https://www.amg.edu/lpn-program/
  • Q: Can I take a LPN course even as an engineering grad? How long will it take?
    • A: Yes you can take LPN course as a engineering grad, any grad, as long as you have a high school diploma and is proficient in English and math.

The Future of Nightlife and Hospitality Industry in NYC — Post Pandemic

On Wednesday, May 26th — there was an panel conversation between business and community leaders about how conversion to employee ownership can help NYC restaurant and hospitality businesses survive and thrive in our post-pandemic future.

Image via The Hollywood Reporter

“There is no question that this past year has been one of the hardest in recent history for small businesses and workers alike, particularly NYC’s nightlife and hospitality sectors who typically thrive — and residents and tourists can be out and about in all five boroughs and can engage in close quarters together.”

“We also know when there is an economic recession in tending the labor market, not to mention a lingering public health crisis that often small business owners are the first to contract. They are no longer able to support their talent, and they are no longer able to contribute their valuable goods and services that they typically have to their communities.”

“In New York City, according to the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development report — there are 220,000 small businesses in New York and 98% of them has less than 100 employees and 89% of them has less than 20 staff. Moreover, half of the private sector of the workforce is with small businesses. That means when small businesses falter, so do our workers. Over the course of the last year, we have seen 600,000 jobs loss. We’ve seen thousands of businesses temporarily or permanently shutter. This disproportionately impact low-income workers, communities of color and young adults.”

“It is important for workforce development professionals to support those who lost jobs (laid off or furloughed) during the pandemic by connecting them to benefits, essential jobs if possible, and continue to do so as the City opens up.
During this time, it is very important to offer as much resources and tools as possible to small businesses and workers – as this is imperative in our economic recovery as well as an equitable recovery.”


According to Senior Executive Director Ariel Palitz
“Before the pandemic, the Office of Nightlife was dedicated to making sure we were supporting nightlife businesses, helping to elevate nightlife culture, promote safety, harm reduction, equity, as well as improve quality of its life. And while those are still our priorities, the pandemic really did obviously shift our energy into crisis management mode to ensure that this industry not only survives this, but comes out stronger than ever before. What the Office of Nightlife is hearing and learning from the industry is that this is still a very dark time, even though we are so grateful to see the light coming and the opening, and the return to sociability.

There is going to be a struggle coming back. This virus hit the heart of social gathering, the heart of this industry and so the recovery — the financial recovery is going to be a long road ahead. We know that we’re hearing that it’s very difficult to find employees, trained employees to lure them back into the workplace — and we know that is a real struggle that we’re working with.”

Ariel Palitz also highlights the importance of mental health — that “the mental health issues are underlying not only for the owners and workers but for patrons — and these are all the things that we are going to have to address, continue to address in a very thoughtful manner. But I bring all of this up because it’s also a real opportunity for creative solutions and to see what was a near collapse, and perhaps, even a not guaranteed return that we have an opportunity now to really look and see how can we do things that are not like before but better.”

“And so what the Office of Nightlife has done in the past 12 months was to see where are those opportunities where we can make those types of improvements — one of which was an initiative that we created called, MEND NYC. It is a five-borough initiative. It stands for Mediating Establishment and Neighborhood Disputes. Everyone in the hospitality industry knows that much of their enforcement is complaint driven. At times it could just be one person upstairs calling 311 anonymously and you don’t know who that person is or what the complaint is until you have a visit at the door.
What we created was an opportunity to mend relationships between the residents and the owners through free mediation and to find compromise through communication, and to establish direct contact — and so next time when it is a little louder they call you, and not necessarily an enforcement.
That is one creative solution I encourage everyone to check out as we start to get more and more vibe through both indoors and outdoors.
We help to launch curtains up with our partners at SBS (NYC Small Business Services) to help you through your application processes through the federal grant programs so you don’t have to figure this out all on your own.”

“We also are starting a new mental health initiative with the mental health community — new mental health community office called ELEVATE for the nightlife industry to preserve and protect venues that foster connection, creativity, and personal expression through programs to support cultural spaces and the New Yorkers who work and perform in them.


The real question: How do we innovate?

There is a willingness in small businesses to innovate all the time. And the pandemic brought on a need to innovate and to think what’s next and what’s different. Restaurants and many other businesses in the hospitality industry had to rethink about how to continue doing their business in the city. So how do we leverage that and go into more change in a way that can really help?
With small businesses and restaurants, people will always need to eat and will always need to have these establishments. How do we have them in a way that strengthens our community’s wealth and each other’s livelihood? How can we make it an experience that everybody can enjoy?

According to Rafael Espinal, the Executive Director of a non-profit called Freelancers Union mentions that — “the challenges that the hospitality industry and nightlife faced during the pandemic were rising rents, real estate playing a role in shaping which small businesses would survive or continue to exist in our communities. There was a lack of sensitivity from our neighbors on these establishments, which led to over enforcement — posed another challenge. For decades, when we talk about New York City and the overall ecosystem, night life which helped create our city’s identity/brand, was never really part of that conversation.
If we look at the numbers, there are over 300,000 jobs and over 25,000 businesses across the city. They have a huge economic impact, not only financially but also culturally.”

“Housing, infrastructure, roads fits into the overall equation — nightlife has to be part of that conversation in order to ensure that NYC continues to succeed. The pandemic has created a whole different challenge — a lot of employees have lost their jobs because of the fact that businesses had to operate at one point — at zero capacity, then at half capacity and now everything is opening up. A lot of folks are out of work, a lot of businesses had to close completely because they couldn’t make the economics to work in this time.”

“We can all agree that having a conversation around the work-cooperative model — where the employees have a stake in the business where the employees become owners of the business, it really will create a stronger foundation moving forward.
When you have more than one person who has an interest in the viability of that business, you’ll have more resources to pull from.
When there is a common goal as they open, when there is a common goal to ensure that you are producing the services to the community, when there is common goal in ensuring that all of the workers are being treated equally, there is a lot of energy there that will create a strong foundation.”

“Real estate will continue to be a question in the background. It is a little tougher to control — but we can control what the business model is going to look like moving forward. We can also control the laws/impacts that are coming out from City Hall. There is a lot to unpack here and I am excited to know what the future of nightlife and hospitality will look like.”

CNYCA’S COVID-19 Economic Update: Job market behavior in a pandemic—no easy answers

Disclaimer: Content in this article was obtained from NYC Employment + Training Coalition’s (NYCETC) NYC Workforce Weekly and the Center for New York City Affairs (CNYCA) to serve as a resource for job seekers and those who are curious/interested in learning more about the current economy of the workforce.

Source:
Original article HERE / Past installments on CNYCA’S COVID-19 Economic Update HERE


We’ve all seen the “Help Wanted” signs in the windows of our neighborhood businesses. It’s a reassuring sign that business is coming back, and that our sequestered days might be waning. On the other hand, how can it be that jobs are going unfilled when we know that three-quarters of a million New Yorkers are jobless or have exited the labor market over the past year?

Many businesses are right to ask whether the extra $300 in weekly unemployment benefits available through September 6 is keeping workers home. But as journalist Greg David noted in a recent article in The City on this issue, “it’s complicated.” David cited a recent Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce survey in which 42 percent of businesses felt that federal unemployment benefits were discouraging return to work. Yet, the Brooklyn survey, according to a report in the Post, also found that 41 percent of businesses said they couldn’t provide enough hours to employees, 28 percent said employees had moved on to other jobs, workers had safety concerns in 12 percent of the cases, and employee health issues were cited by five percent of businesses. And several businesses also noted that lack of child care was keeping some workers home.

Clearly, a multiplicity of factors is influencing job market behavior as pandemic business restrictions are eased, Covid case rates decline, and vaccinations become more widespread. It is not so clear cut that unemployment benefits are the primary cause for some jobs going unfilled, although the availability of benefits likely does make it possible for many of the unemployed to exercise greater latitude in making decisions in the best interests of their families, personal health, and career choices. But isn’t that appropriate considering that the unemployed lost their jobs due to a public health emergency not of their making, and that the pandemic has upended livelihoods and family circumstances for millions?

Beyond survey perceptions there are various economic indicators that reinforce the notion that there are no simple or easy answers on this question. Even though an earlier $600 weekly federal unemployment supplement ended at the beginning of August last summer, there was no local job surge in ensuing months. Rather, the second wave of Covid infections beginning in October kept the city’s overall job level flat for several months. Jobs didn’t start to rebound strongly until February and March (NYC added 90,000 jobs over those two months), even though the new $300 weekly federal supplement began in early January.

Employment in restaurants—where unfilled job openings are most common—rebounded some in the fall, fell off again during the winter, and started hiring again in February. This erratic pattern may have signaled an instability that deterred workers from returning. (April payroll data for New York City will be released on May 20.)

The fact that employment in child care centers has not risen appreciably since November also supports the notion that the lack of child care capacity has been preventing some parents from returning to work. The March 2021 employment level was still 21 percent below the pre-pandemic level, and there was a severe crisis in child care accessibility and affordability before the pandemic. The very slow pace with which the State has been moving to disburse emergency federal child care funding has further exacerbated the child care situation.

Since most neighborhood businesses are not back to full capacity, many are not able to offer their employees full-time schedules. Unlike other states, New York State’s partial unemployment system is particularly antiquated and confusing for workers to navigate. There are “cliff effects” as the figure below indicates, where an additional hour of part-time work can dramatically reduce partial unemployment benefits, unduly complicating a worker’s decision about returning to work part-time. State legislators and the governor have had proposals to remedy the problem since January but have not yet reached agreement on a resolution. Meanwhile, an estimated 25 percent of the two million-plus UI recipients in New York State are receiving partial benefits.

Several news reports indicate that some restaurant businesses have raised pay offers or enhanced benefits to attract workers back. That is what labor economists would expect to happen when recruitment problems persist. The need for higher pay is particularly warranted given that New York State pay regulations permit a “subminimum wage” for tipped restaurant workers of $10 an hour whereas the wage floor for most New York City workers has been $15 since the beginning of 2019. Since most restaurants are far below pre-pandemic business levels, tips are likely a fraction of what they previously were.

CNYCA’S COVID-19 Economic Update: NYC jobs resumed their return in February and March after a flat four months

Disclaimer: Content in this article was obtained from NYC Employment + Training Coalition’s (NYCETC) NYC Workforce Weekly and the Center for New York City Affairs (CNYCA) to serve as a resource for job seekers and those who are curious/interested in learning more about the current economy of the workforce.


James A. Parrott, the Director of Economic and Fiscal Policies of the Center for New York City Affairs (CNYCA) at The New School has prepared the latest report of NYC’s economy issued February 2021.

New York City lost 750,000 payroll and self-employed/independent contractor jobs on average between the months of February and December in 2020. The loss for the entire year was the worst single-year city job decline since the 1930s. The partial rebound since last spring has been called a K-shaped recovery for good reason; many in the bottom half of the economy have lost jobs or earnings and are experiencing severe housing and food insecurity, while most of those in the top half of the income distribution retain their jobs, and many have seen their financial assets rise in value. Signs of serious economic distress are multiplying, long-term unemployment is skyrocketing, many of the new jobs emerging are lower quality than the jobs that have been lost, and many of those returning to jobs are only working part-time. The city’s underemployment rate is 25 percent. This report examines the Covid-19 economic and employment impact in New York City at the end of January 2021, assesses the several labor market challenges for the year ahead, and discusses how much and what kind of job growth the city can expect in the year ahead. The report looks at the demographic and industry contours of the job market effects and investigates how the pandemic has exacerbated wage and income inequality.

James A. Parrott

Like the national picture to some extent, jobs have resumed returning in a handful of New York City industries in the past two months. The latest New York City jobs numbers released on April 15th showed a 40,000-gain in March and the February numbers were revised upward by 12,000, to show a 48,000-job gain over January. This follows four months of backsliding after an initial rebound during the late spring and summer months of 2020 from the low point reached last April. Still, the city’s payroll job count remains 585,000 below the pre-pandemic level.

New York City’s 12.5 percent jobs shortfall from pre-pandemic levels is two-and-a-half times the nation’s five percent falloff from February of 2020 to March of this year. Job losses in the city have far exceeded those in the rest of New York State where the decline over the past 13 months has been 7.6 percent. Sixty percent of New York State’s pandemic job losses have taken place in the city, which accounted for 48 percent of all Empire State jobs before the pandemic.

The table below shows the detailed New York City industries sorted into the three categories useful for analyzing the pandemic economy. It indicates the monthly job gains for February and March of this year as well as the extent to which the February-to-April job collapse in the early days of the pandemic has been made up in the months since. Even with the moderate gains in the past two months, New York City has only recouped 37 percent of last spring’s job losses. Only a little more than a third (35 percent) of the 725,000 job losses sustained in the face-to-face industries have been regained. 

While every industry had either job gains or very small declines in March 2021, only six industries had significant job gains in February and March, accounting for over 80 percent of the net job increases during those two months. Food services and drinking places added back over 23,000 during the two months (but were still down by 140,000 compared to last February). Private colleges and universities (part of the private education industry) and local government brought back workers (16,000 and 10,000, respectively) over the past two months after cutting headcount in December and January as the second Covid-19 surge spread. Home health services (within health care) added 8,200 jobs, temp agencies (within administrative services) 8,100, and motion picture production (part of information) 6,100 jobs, with all three industries reaching their highest levels since the widespread pandemic cutbacks. 

The remote-working industries have been much less affected by the pandemic than the face-to-face industries, with a net decline of 6.4 percent vs. 23.5 percent in the face-to-face industries. Nevertheless, finance and insurance has reduced employment slightly since last April and the job rebound in professional, scientific, and technical services has been only six percent. Health care, on the other hand, has regained 88 percent of the job reduction experienced between February-April 2020.

CNYCA’S COVID-19 Economic Update: NYC job losses proportionately greatest among largest U.S. cities

Disclaimer: Content in this article was obtained from NYC Employment + Training Coalition’s (NYCETC) NYC Workforce Weekly and the Center for New York City Affairs (CNYCA) to serve as a resource for job seekers and those who are curious/interested in learning more about the current economy of the workforce.


New York City’s Covid-19 payroll job loss was 13.6 percent over the first year of the pandemic, more than twice the 5.9 percent national job decline and greater than the job losses experienced in the next 14 largest U.S. cities. These data reflect the annual revision to the monthly establishment payroll employment data that was released by the New York State Labor Department on March 11th (see next item below). San Francisco’s 13.2 percent job loss and Los Angeles’ 12.1 percent decline were close behind New York City’s. The next five cities – Philadelphia, Boston, Miami, Washington, D.C., and Chicago – were clustered in the -9 to -10 percent range. Four cities among the 15 largest in the country – Riverside (CA), Atlanta, Dallas, and Phoenix – had smaller job declines than the nation overall.

The New York City metropolitan area had 9.9 million jobs in February 2020, or 6.6 percent of the 151 million national job total. During the pandemic’s first year, the metropolitan area had an 11.2 percent job decline; the rest of the metro area outside of New York City saw jobs fall off by 9.1 percent compared to the city’s 13.6 percent decline. New York City had 3.1 percent of all U.S. payroll employment as of February 2020. 

The Labor Department’s revised payroll employment data also revealed that New York City’s job losses in 2020 were greater than previously reported. In our February 12th report, New York City’s Covid-19 Economy Will Not Snap Back, we wrote that the February-December 2020 payroll job loss was 507,000, a decline of 10.9 percent. The job level for last December has now been revised downward by the Labor Department to show a drop of 575,000 from February, a revised job falloff of 12.3 percent. The annual revisions are based on administrative data compiled in connection with the payment of employer payroll taxes for unemployment insurance purposes. (The employment figures cited here are not adjusted for seasonal effects since pandemic-related impacts have been much greater than the usual pattern of seasonal ups and downs.)

The January employment levels dropped further because there had been some seasonal hiring in November and December that then ended. Even with a moderate 40,000 increase in February employment levels, the February 2020 to February 2021 New York City change shows a drop of 635,000 jobs, or 13.6 percent. The table below shows these 12-month job changes for individual industries grouped into the three categories (Essential, Face-to-Face, and Remote-Working) we feel best reflect the predominant dynamic caused by Covid-19 economic impacts. 

The revised data underscore the now-commonplace observation that the Face-to-Face industries have borne the brunt of the adverse pandemic economic and employment impacts. Led by the steep job losses in leisure and hospitality and the arts and entertainment industry, Face-to-Face industries as a group have seen a 25 percent drop in employment compared to a seven percent decline in the Remote-Working industries and a slight three percent decline in the Essential category. Nearly four out of every five New York City jobs lost over the past year have been in the Face-to-Face industries, where most workers do not get paid if they don’t work and where only a tiny fraction of workers can do their jobs remotely.

The annual employment revision saw a handful of industries with significant downward revisions while a smaller number of industries had upward revisions. Two of the hardest-hit industries had sharp downward revisions: hotel employment was revised down by 44 percent and eating and drinking places had a 12 percent downward revision. On the other hand, the other among the three hardest-hit industries –arts, entertainment, and recreation – had a 44 percent upward revision in its job numbers. However, as the above table shows, this industry still suffered a 51 percent job loss over the past year.

Child care employment was revised down by 21 percent and the revised job levels for temporary employment agencies were 30 percent lower. It had earlier been thought that given its essential role, employment had been fairly stable in grocery stores and drug stores; however, the more definitive administrative data resulted in a 10 percent downward revision in the number of grocery store jobs and a 17 percent negative change in drug store employment. There was a surprising upward revision elsewhere in the retail sector, with clothing store employment revised up by 43 percent. Among upward revisions in the Remote-Working industries, employment in publishing was reported to be 10 percent greater in the revised data, and there were upward revisions of five percent in investment banking, six percent in computer services, and eight percent in management consulting.

For Retail Employees: How To Appreciate Your New Job During COVID-19

There are 25 million Americans unemployed to this day. On the other hand, 12 million Americans are set to lose unemployment on late December 2020. There are tough days for folks ahead of time.

For those who just secured a new job during COVID-19, many prefer working full-time rather than part-time because they want to make a decent amount of income to pay off their bills, rent, mortgage, etc.

If you are a new hire for retail employers like CVS, Duane Reade, Starbucks, TJ Maxx, Wholefoods or Target, you may be wondering why you are only getting part-time hours (20 hours per week) when you thought that it would be a full-time schedule (because you applied for a Full-Time position), and at a minimum wage of $15 per hour.

Instead of being disappointed that you are only a part-time employee or thinking about quitting to look for another full-time job, you want to take this moment to appreciate the job that you have because many individuals are laid off with no jobs, individuals are being ghosted by recruiters after 10 interviews and there are individuals that are on the verge of homelessness, while they are still struggling to find jobs.

First, unfortunately Sales Associates and Team Members always start off as part-time employees (especially if it isn’t during the holiday season) with the opportunity for periodic full-time hours or promotion to full-time employees based on performance. On top of that, you must understand that during this unprecedented time — many employee hours and pay are being cut as well.

In the first month, sometimes new hires work less than 20 hours because supervisors are still trying to place them into the existing schedule.

Image via CB4 Spotlight

Second, Black Friday and Christmas is right around the corner which means that the holidays are upon us. Therefore, it is suspected that most staff will be getting more hours over the coming weeks so long as business picks up for the retailer.

Lastly, it is recommended that you should bring this goal up with your Team Lead, Department Supervisor or the Captain/Store Manager. You could start by stating that you are enjoying the work, happy to be part of the team, and interested in additional responsibilities. You can then follow up with questions such as:

  • “Can I cover or pick up additional shifts?”
    • Picking up shifts from co-workers requires and allows you to develop relationships at work.
  • “I noticed that X can be solved with Y, can I take on that project with additional hours?”
    • Asking supervisors at the end of a shift if they need support tomorrow or the next day shows that you are taking ownership and asking them to give you the opportunity to make smart decisions on your own instead of relying on them.
  • “I noticed that X shift is one that is difficult to schedule, can I step up and add that to my workload?”
    • Providing your phone number to a scheduling supervisor, letting them know that you are available to pick up shifts will tell them that you have an open schedule.

It is all about open communication and relationship building. Increased trust and dependability leads to more hours.

Workforce Confidence Levels Drop in the U.S.

Workforce confidence levels have been improving in many states by the end of June compared to the beginning of March; and to name a few: Ohio, New York, Illinois and Pennsylvania. Many small and medium sized businesses are slowly getting back up and bustling. For the most part, these states have been reopening cautiously.

However, due to the rapid reopening of some states such as Texas, California and Florida – their employment recovery has been shifting backwards recently. Their workforce confidence levels have dropped significantly due to the sudden spikes of COVID-19 cases in June.

Below, you will find a more specific chart illustrated by George Anders from his LinkedIn article to show the confidence levels across the U.S. that are heavily affected by this pandemic.

Table of 12 large states, showing their June COVID-19 cases as well as the workplace confidence levels of residents in those states

Image via George Anders’ article

Once the workforce confidence level has been exhausted, this can trigger setbacks in causing rollbacks of the reopening plans – delaying the economy and businesses as well as weakening our consumer spending.

While there are still huge spikes in confirmed cases, the unemployment rate in many states are still continuing to rise slowly if not rapidly.

Many Americans are still unemployed, however more are slowly becoming employed again as the unemployment rate has decreased from 14.7% on April 2020 to 11.1% on June 2020. Due to economic reasons, over 9 million are employed as part-time workers or working with significantly reduced hours.

According to the U.S. Private Sector Job Quality Index (JQI), over 37 million jobs in the U.S. are more susceptible to layoffs in the short-term. These jobs are the hardest hit by this economic and health crisis, which include the following that are in the service sector: those in retail, hospitality, food service, real estate, education, etc. It is stated that “most of these were front-line, customer-facing jobs that offer both low hourly wages and a limited number of hours of work per week.

These low-wage workers are hit in multiple fronts since many of them do not have health insurance from their employers, many of them are underrepresented and underpaid, some of them are in debt, and some do not have enough money in their savings to secure their living expenses. In addition, some of them are ineligible to claim unemployment insurance because there are also those who work off the books and do not pay taxes.

It is also becoming more transparent that many who were supposedly temporary layoffs, are becoming permanent layoffs. This means that there will be a longer extension period of unemployment benefits and we will soon – see a significant increase in new filing claims, surpassing 30 million unemployed Americans as of the week ending July 4th.

With the expansion of unemployment benefits, in addition to the new federal funding of the $600 Pandemic Unemployment Assistance during this recession – many find that it creates a disincentive for the unemployed to return to work, since it is argued that these individuals earn more from unemployment benefits than they did from employment.

However, these unemployment benefits are actually a good thing since it helps keep the economy running. With the coverage and payouts, this will permit individuals to continue paying their rent, groceries, utilities, Internet, other insurance and consuming goods while the economy is still playing its role. While some states are shifting back to their normality, not all of them are confident enough to financially support their citizens, residents as well as businesses. After all, the federal government has the power to generate resources and twist things around to inhibit this exacerbation.

While the $600 Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation is running out and is set to expire on July 26, 2020, all 49 states except for South Dakota are offering an extra 20 weeks of regular extended unemployment insurance benefits until December 31, 2020. In addition, our second stimulus bill which was approved by the House of Representatives – offers an extension of $600 Pandemic Unemployment Benefits until 2021, however it has not been passed by the Senate yet.

Chart via U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (To see the number values for each state, refer to the source.)

Based on the chart above, this depicts where the 50 states are currently standing as of June 2020 over a 12-month period since June 2019. It is affirmed that “Massachusetts had the highest unemployment rate in June, 17.4 percent, followed by New Jersey, 16.6 percent, and New York, 15.7 percent.

Due to the prolonged joblessness, it is necessary that these unemployment benefits continue even if the economy picks up. Right now, supporting those low wage workers who are now jobless, will be obligatory in ensuring a resilient economy once there is a solution to this public health crisis.

Once everything normalizes, this will be the approach to economic recovery as we will continue to see that there are more available job seekers than job openings.

2020 Resume/Career Advice For Beginners

Image via Vecteezy

While there are certain sectors or industries on the rise, job searching can be tough during this current economic uncertainty. With over 30 million Americans unemployed, many may not have the experience or knowledge base for the role that they are applying for because 1) the job that they were temporarily/permanently laid off or furloughed are currently unavailable since there are no openings due to COVID-19; OR 2) the available jobs available in the labor market is not what they are ideally searching for.

This has been extremely overwhelming for the whole nation and this especially makes it harder for individuals who have to keep a roof over their families’ heads, have babies/children to feed, pay rent and bills, etc.

The key component that is really important right now, is your RESUME. As we all know, it is mid-July now… we are all home since mid-March, which has been 4 months. There are ways that job seekers can change their adaptations of their resumes from what used to be on their resumes. Back then, we generally like to include as many details as possible and what we are proficient in to tailor it according to the job description.

Ideally during then, you want your resume to look presentable to the employer. However, the main issue has always been that job seekers struggle very hard on translating or interpreting that information to their interviews. Now, with COVID-19 and people being home, what job seekers need to do is to draw themselves between two things. Either you are a good public speaker and you should just have general stuff listed on your resume so that you can save it all for the interview to showcase your excellent communication skills; or if you are more shy/introverted, you might have all detailed information on your resume but you will need to practice more on improving your communication effectively during your interview.

Many individuals oftentimes get so nervous about changing their resumes. It shouldn’t be hard when they have it on their flash drives or saved onto their desktops. Many of them right now just do not want to go back to square one again and I totally feel for them. And that can pose issues for those who may have criminal justice record, failing a drug test and anyone who refuses to start from scratch all over again.

On the other hand, those who are still working in their part-time jobs or have reduced hours, are the ones who are still hungry and are currently looking for work. They’re hungry by saying – “Now is not only about experience and not about your resume, because everyone not only in New York City but the U.S. is looking for a job right now. It’s you versus everyone.” Unless you have a good relationship with people and can build or have built some kind of connection with them through LinkedIn or by volunteering, it will be difficult.

So let’s say, what if you only have 1 month of experience at a retail store because it was a seasonal role? What if you do have experience but you couldn’t translate that into a resume? Especially with difficult times like these, you really want to hone in on your job description and you want to place emphasis on the skills that you know the employer wants – which is conveyed in the job description. For instance for a cashier role, if they are seeking someone who is great with the cashiering, customer service skills and using numbers to define how much revenue you increased for the company – you want to really emphasize those things on the resume but you have to tailor it each time because each job, each employer desires different things. And if it’s a customer service job, you will want to shift the customer service bullet up to the top and if it’s not, then you either take it off or shift it to the bottom. This is what would be recommended for someone who does not have a whole lot of experience, on how to at least get the resume to help them advance to the next step.

One of the most resourceful and quickest ways in landing your job/career if you have not built your network, is to seek a career coach to assist you with your resume since they are armed with many valuable resources. On top of that, they have connections with many employers from different industries and sectors – which they can help place you in a job that you are looking for. Many non-profit organizations that are workforce providers offer free services on career development such as resume/cover letter writing, honing your interview skills, career advice, work readiness training and even job placement assistance.

Career coaches are very helpful during this time since they have employer partners who reach out to them for recruitment assistance. They are the ones who are consistently up to date with the labor market trends and which industries/sectors are hiring and not hiring. Career coaches and job placement specialists have seen and judged resumes that they thought would not make it to a job, that actually made it. If they are referring the job seeker to an employer, a useful way with helping them tailor the resumes are by looking at the job description as mentioned earlier. If the job description doesn’t convey honestly what the employer wants, your career coach can help you find out what the employer wants. Career coaches will take their time to coach and counsel you to the best version of yourself and make sure that you know every single thing before you walk into the interview.

They will be there to teach you not to give up, to really hang in there for the long haul, keep applying, keep at it – although we know at this time it is terribly difficult.

Normally, job seekers are asked “What have you been doing ever since you’ve lost your job and how do you fill in that gap?” and now we want to replace it with “What have you been doing since COVID-19 has invaded our lives?”
If you are learning how to use Zoom, remote work or even taking courses to enhance your digital literacy skills, then that is a resume builder. If you are currently taking care of family, then you are a caretaker.

To wrap this up, this is about teaching yourself how to fail. This is about teaching yourself how to not be afraid, how to throw your chances out there and be hungry. If you’re not taught to fail and you’re just going to hold onto that one job, what if they never practiced their interview skills after working in that same job for 2 years?

Moral of the story is, don’t be afraid to throw your resume to every single job opportunity out there in every field because guess what? You may end up liking that job that you’d never imagine that you would be doing. In many cases, there is always room for advancement regardless of what your title is, what department you work for or which industry/sector you are coming from. Your learning experiences come through your resume, you’re receiving feedback during your interviews and if a job really wants you, then you will possess that confidence.

It has been such a fast and deep downturn and that’s what’s unprecedented – we can’t compare it to any other downturn because of that. The problem is that we don’t know what the next 6 to 24 months are going to look like but the job search/hunt process and every new growing opportunity out there is, has always been and will be limitless.

What Does a Contact Tracer Do?

Contact tracers focus on gathering cases and relevant data with their city and health departments through identifying and organizing interviews with individuals who are infected with COVID-19. In addition, tracers are responsible with follow up by giving these individuals proper guidance to follow while flattening the curve and stopping the spread in the region.

Image via Shutterstock

According to an insider that I help landed a job in; who currently is a contact tracer for the greater NYC area, stated that she makes daily outbound calls for cases on people who have been lab confirmed, tested positive for COVID-19 and when she makes those calls, sometimes she leaves voicemails because not all individuals would pick up. But for those who do pick up the call, she goes through a case investigation intake with the case for those who are tested, lab confirmed positive. In this assessment, she would walk them through different medical conditions that they have or different symptoms they’ve experienced in the past month and basically just informing them to isolate for a 14-day period.  They are informed about different services that they offer to help them isolate safely and effectively for that 14-day period – on how to continue practicing safety health measures such as social distancing, washing hands and staying home when there aren’t essential things needed to be taken care of.

These services include access to food, help with navigating/paying electricity bills, how to get their medications, as well as a variety of mental health resources like NYC Well, or domestic violence hotlines so that people have access to professionals so that they can feel supported and not feel like they are alone during this time. Another service that is included, is that the tracers notify people that they’re not medical professionals and because they cannot offer personal medical advice – they encourage them to speak with their primary care physicians or to connect to the COVID-19 physician hotline, where they can call and speak with a medical professional regarding any concerns related to COVID-19.

“When I make these calls to these people – those who pick up, it’s like forming a connection with them,” the insider says. “One of the vital pieces of this project is that some of us have a hard time of getting people to provide information about their exposed contacts, to people who were exposed and tested positive with COVID-19 prior to them. Trying to track down those – of course all of those information are all confidential and kept safe and secure.”

Image via Shutterstock

Some individuals that she has communicated with are forthcoming with that information, while a few are hesitant and do not want to share information about their exposed contacts.

“The other vital piece is that they make sure that folks have access to information and services on how to isolate effectively and safely, and also hopefully that they’re getting COVID education and being they’re aware so that they’ll be less stigmatized; that they’re not blaming themselves or other people and just empowering people on how to isolate safely, and what to do with a COVID-19 positive test result and how to go forward.”

She feels like this project, in a lot of ways helps the community and it allows people to gain access to information and to participate… to have someone do a case investigation intake with them – which is through the use of language line for folks with limited language proficiency – for those who do not have access to information or even to see what they need, and to be a support for them during this time and even to be a listening ear as well.  “I have done Spanish and Mandarin language line calls during my time there. This project goal is to cover the basis and trying to reach as many people as possible.”

She remembers a case she had with a woman, who at the time during her call with her – she was already staying at an isolation hotel, which is one of the services that they also offer to these individuals as well. “If someone doesn’t have a safe place to stay at or staying at separate bedrooms or bathrooms in their own home, NYC offers free isolation hotels where there are snacks, 3 meals a day and medication to be arranged and they will be taken care of during your time there. This is all free of charge,” the insider asserts.

Although many sources indicate that contact tracers have a hard time with reaching out to those who are unable to be reached, there are also memorable moments with those who they’ve gotten a chance to speak with.

“My favorite part of this job is talking to people and making meaningful connections with other New Yorkers especially at a time where they might feel extra isolated and be a listening ear, and just reassuring people that they are not alone and to be that person on the other end caring for them whether it’s a short or long length of time during the call.”

‘There are quite a few of people in these calls that I will never forget because they were kind, cooperative and were willing/open to sharing their information of their exposed contacts. This is the tracing part and this is also the most difficult part of the project, since many folks do not feel comfortable giving out information of their exposed contacts. I think that this is the nature of the beast. Human nature is more protective of those we love, those we are around. We protect their information and they protect our information.”

To sum it up, this is all pretty much ACCESS… Contact tracers making the calls to those tested positive – by connecting them to information and people, for them to have access to things – especially the people who need a place to go, contact with; to ensure that folks get their food and the proper medication that they need. It’s very useful whether or not people utilize the services but it’s for everybody basically to be informed and educated with these information, which hopefully knowledge is power. People empower to make healthy decisions as contact tracers continue do their job of slowing the spread in NYC as well as other parts of the U.S.

As mentioned earlier, a large part of this job is by establishing a meaningful connection with people that they’re on the phone with – when establishing that meaningful connection, it allows contact tracers to be able to lead to building greater trust, which ultimately leads to providing a greater exchange where the individual being reached through the call is more forthcoming and willing to provide more vital information. The whole call is centered and wraps around COVID-19 education and providing information for services to be able to isolate safely and effectively, as well as services regarding mental health and domestic violence, food and physicians for them to ask them health related questions or COVID-19 related questions and how they can cope with easing their fears and anxiety a little bit – is just one of the main pieces of it, which is to get people to provide information on their exposed contacts so that they can do the tracing part.

The insider expresses, “This is the job where you need to have patience, empathy, and just being able to make a connection with whoever you get on the phone and letting them know that this call is not so much an interrogation but more of love and support, to see how they are and what they (contact tracers) can do to help these individuals keep well and stay safe.”

Is This The End of the World for the Fashion Industry? Or Is It A New Era? Will It Survive?

While fashion retail stores are usually one season ahead of the game – in addition to collaborating closely with designers and manufacturers, they were supposed to be selling summer clothing (during the spring season) while placing orders for the Fall (during the summer season). But due to the current health and economic crisis, orders and new looks are being cancelled/returned since everyone is on a stay at home order. So what does this mean for the manufacturers and designers? Due to the uncertainties of the future outlook, does this mean that there will be fewer pieces being created for outdoor gear/street wear and more pieces on loungewear? How will fashion designers be able to manifest their creativity in the years to come? This is definitely not an easy pill to swallow.

Amid the Coronavirus chaos, this impact on the fashion industry spells disaster as many retail companies, design houses and garment factories struggle to stay afloat – due to the massive elimination of positions and filing for bankruptcy chapters. Neiman Marcus, J. Crew and JCPenney were a few of the many brands who filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on May 2020. Aside from the hospitality industry proven to be one of the hardest hit, we can see that the fashion industry is also up in the air. According to the Washington Post, the article reported that “Macy’s announced it will furlough most of its 125,000 workers as sales evaporated with the shuttering of 775 stores. Kohl’s and Gap also announced furloughs of about 80,000 each.” In addition, CNBC reported that Best Buy has also furloughed about 51,000 hourly employees, affecting mainly their part-time employees while full-time employees will remain on their payroll.

Retail stores and their day-to-day operations are dying, while e-commerce is flourishing and thriving. Runway shows, trade shows and presentations have been canceled/suspended/rescheduled. The way that the fashion industry has been surviving lately – factories are mainly focused on producing face masks and generating hand sanitizers to assist the communities.

We have already reached the end of June and we are still in the midst of this global crisis, coupled with nationwide racial tensions so thick that you can feel it in the air. Due to the recent events and protests of the Black Lives Matter movement, it has severely affected the fashion retail industry across the nation as many stores were vandalized and remain closed due to looting. NYC stores in Soho and Herald-Square 34th Street as well as Queens Center Mall, has been boarded up with names listed of those who’s lives were lost and other phrases that relate to anti-racism of the Black and Brown community such as, “Say Their Name”, “Celebrate Your Freedom – Juneteenth”, “Let’s Legalize Humanity” and “One Love”.

Luxury fashion brands are also stepping back from this year’s New York Fashion Week shows (including those in London, Milan, Paris, Seoul, etc.) and some designers like Michael Kors are not planning to host any shows or presentations in 2021 either. The NYFW runway shows are always held biannually, one around February and one in September. I have attended many in the past and it was always a wonderful experience to see new creative designs/pieces for next fashion season as I have always enjoyed keeping up with current fashion trends. This postponement has been hard for me to process since I have always looked forward to attending their next biannual runway shows – and it has become a habit for me. No matter how busy my schedule would get, I somehow always managed to find a way to attend at least 1-2 shows during the given week.

I guess I will have to go back to Megan Hess’s NYFW illustrations and pretend that there will be NYFW this Fall season. She was the one who has inspired me to go into fashion illustrations during my free time when I was an undergraduate student. Below are some of my favorite NYFW drawings from her. Feel free to shop for her illustrations here!


Illustrated by Megan Hess

The Met Gala, also known as the Super Bowl of Fashion which is also another big event that is held annually on the first Monday of May at one of NYC’s famous tourist attractions on the Upper East Side, the Metropolitan Museum of Art – has been postponed as well, disrupting the fashion calendar of many. Instead, it went virtual that evening on Vogue’s YouTube channel, walking down memory lane on last year’s Met Gala. For those of you who are not a fashion geek, this event is a way to raise funds for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. This year has been a whole new ball game for the fashion community.

The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) has partnered up with Vogue in March, to pioneer a “Common Thread” funding initiative. This allows designers to use their platforms and speak up on how this epidemic has affected their businesses, while they are also seeking for ways to implement effective strategies for fundraising.

The goal is to raise both awareness and needed funds for those in the American fashion community who have been impacted by COVID-19.

A Common Thread – CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund for COVID-19 Relief

So, are we entering a new era of fashion? While remote work has taken over the world, it is not surprising to see that London Fashion Week has been promptly preparing for the September 2020 show virtually. While layoffs, furloughs and economic hardship will continue to trail behind, the CDFA also took swift actions in partnering with National Retail Federation and the American Apparel & Footwear Association, to seek for financial assistance such as grants to keep employees on company payroll and temporary rent and tariff reliefs.

Fashion is definitely going to survive. However, certain positions will become obsolete especially for frontline retail leadership/managerial positions. Several friends and clients of mine who were all employed in long-term managerial positions have been recently let go from Coach, Forever21, H&M, Century 21 and other clothing brands due to this epidemic. Sales associates and cashiers, let’s be honest. With e-commerce on the rise, these positions are not going to be needed as we move towards online transactions. And going back to my last question in the first paragraph, I can see that designers are also facing a big obstacle right now. While many positions can be carried on remotely, it is almost impossible for designers. Proper fittings and patternmakers are the big blockers of a Zoom conference call. That is just not going to work.

How will fashion change in our post-pandemic world? Right now, I think that the most important thing rather than worrying about the impacts of cash flow going in and out of the business, is that industry leaders should be focused on coming up with ways to create sustainable solutions in repowering the supply chain. That is the way that the fashion industry can rescue itself.