Italy

The Corona Poor

Who are the new poor living on the breadline because of Covid-19?

Elsa and Noemi are both contract teachers who are now out of work because of the coronavirus emergency. There’s Marco, an electrician, Abukar a carpenter, and Elena, who supported herself and her son through babysitting and working in a school canteen, while Calogero put bread on the family table by working as an informal parking attendant near Milan’s San Siro Stadium. From one day to the next all of them were prevented from making a living and were forced to stay home.

The impact of the coronavirus on the economy and on employment has been devastating. Many people are stranded at home, without redundancy payments or social safety nets other than the help provided by charities such as the Caritas Ambrosiana or the Fondazione Progetto Arca.
Many Milanese were already experiencing hardship prior to the coronavirus emergency, some with precarious temporary jobs or fixed-term contracts. These people and others have seen the door to gainful employment slammed shut in their faces: no teleworking, no savings to fall back on, just poverty that gets worse with each passing day.

During the lockdown half of the Italian population has stopped working. The government’s official figures currently count 1 million 700 thousand fewer people in work in 2020. This tsunami has swept up those on short-term contracts, part-time or seasonal workers and those working in the informal economy off the books. Colidretti, an agricultural association, claims that in Italy there are at least one million new poor in need of real assistance just to feed themselves, in addition to the 4 to 5 million people who were already living in poverty prior to the epidemic.

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