Americans fear rising costs of working from home as the epidemic continues


For Marie Clara-Kentillo’s family, living in the home during the coronovirus epidemic increased monthly expenses that the family could never anticipate.

Clara-Kentillo, a patient teacher at a pharmaceutical company in New York who always worked from home, said her usual routine skyrocketed with utility bills, dozens more to cook for her three children, and food and children’s excessive Designed on a cost basis.

“Since March, our gas and electricity bills have actually increased … because every computer is on, every television is on, all the lights are on and kids are chasing to turn the lights off.” he said.

About half of the American workforce recently entered its seventh straight month of working from home due to the coronovirus epidemic. According to Stanford University, as of June, 42 percent of American workers were working from home, while 26 percent of workers reported working.

“Working from home fluctuates,” Stanford University economist Nicholas Bloom told NBC News. “Of course, you have to pay more water and you have to pay more electricity … On the other hand, you have to determine that there is a lot of money left when it comes against you.”

NBC News’ social newsgering team spoke with several Americans, including working parents, who said they don’t know the savings on commuting expenses are enough to cover the costs of their increased utility usage. Some have had to find additional work to pay their bills, while others have had to make significant cuts in other areas of their budgets.

Clara-Kentillo said that her utilities increased by about $ 300 this summer, she decided to enroll her six-year-old daughter in a half-week parochial school at a cost of $ 670 per month, just that. May keep some of its remote work regular.

“I am lucky that I am able to pay but it derives from the extra savings that you are able to sustain,” she said.

In September, Virginia Norwood’s family received a $ 600 electricity bill. Meanwhile, the family, residents of Norfolk, Virginia, pegged their most recent water bill to $ 185 – that’s typically $ 65 per month. Soon after the $ 600 electric bill, Norwoods refused their mortgage for three months because they could not afford the monthly expenses.

Norwood’s five-year-old son is completing online schooling from home this fall.Virginia norwood

“It’s been a struggle,” Norwood said. “We have to establish some provisions with the electric company to spread the $ 600 bill over the next 12 months, because we certainly didn’t have a $ 600 budget for it.”

Norwood, a mother of three who works as a human resources assistant, attributed the spike in her family’s electricity bill to running three computers and a television throughout the day, as well as having her children open the refrigerator – sometimes. Never leave the door open by mistake. Hours without her realizing.

Tiffany Hall, who lives alone in Alfama’s Birmingham, said her electricity bill has increased to $ 140 while working from home. Before the epidemic, it was between $ 70 to $ 90. His water bill also doubled from his usual $ 27. Recently, his water bill was about $ 57.

“In late April, I was like, ‘What’s going on ?,” Hall, a for-profit writer for the Social Security Administration, said. “I didn’t think about it at first, and then I was like, ‘Oh, this is because I’ve been using electricity and water all day.”

She recently got a second job as a caretaker, working 20 to 30 hours outside her home each week and using some of that extra income to help cover high utility bills is.

According to the US Energy Information Administration’s Short-Term Energy Winter Outlook, it does not appear that homes will get a cold this time, during which electricity consumption is expected to increase by about 8 percent. Households using electricity for the summer are expected to spend an average of $ 1,209 on electricity bills – a 7 percent increase – this winter. The agency defines the winter season as the months of October through March.

The report states, “The EIA’s forecast for this residential power consumption increase is driven by changes in consumption patterns as a result of winter’s expected temperatures and efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

When Levi Bethune’s partner was laid off due to the epidemic, her household income was halved. Bethune, who lives in Chicago, works at tech startup Geobit. The company specializes in GPS location for parents to monitor the location of their children, but saw a decrease in sales with many children doing distance education, leaving Bethune and other employees to take pay cuts.

Bethune said, “Our family suddenly went to school from the home of two incomes and four children. Suddenly, all the adults working from home and all four children who tried to go to school from home were killed.” “And it was an overnight thing.”

Levi Bethune’s family is working from home, while their four children do distance education. Bethune took a pay cut during the epidemic while her partner lost her job.Courtesy Levi Bethune

Bethune said that before the epidemic, he and his partner would talk about working from home as if it were a “dream”.

“Now that we’re actually doing this … it’s not everything we thought it would be,” he said. “A lot comes for extra expenses we just didn’t see.”

For 34-year-old Jessica-Anne Lever, a sudden change in distance education forced her to quit her job as a longtime medical assistant at NYU Langone Medical Center to support her son’s first-grade distance education .

“I don’t know what we’re going to do,” he said. “Only groceries are killing me,” he said during the epidemic that has increased by more than $ 400 per month.

She said she and her husband, who work as a hygiene worker in New York City, are moving out of Brooklyn and looking for homes in Pennsylvania in hopes of reducing living expenses.

Jessica-Anne Lever, who had to quit her job to support her son’s distance education, has purchased supplies to help build a meshift class at home.Courtesy Jessica Anne-Lever

In March, the Family First Coronavirus Response Act 2020 authorized the Epidemic Electronic Benefit Transfer Program (P-EBT), providing a total of $ 420 for the school’s free school lunches for food-related benefits to students , Who missed out on epidemic-related school closures. .

While both Lever and Clara-Kentillo received the P-EBT stipend, they said their grocery bills were still much higher than usual.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump announced that negotiations were off the table until after the November 3 election, with coronovirus relief from Congress in uncertainty. However, he urged Congress to approve a new round of $ 1,200 incentive checks.

Norwood said his family is not being counted on another round of incentive checks, but said it would make a world of difference if Americans regained him.

“It’s not a lot of money, but it will be enough for us to hold our bills, do some car maintenance, house maintenance and maybe rebuild our emergency fund,” Norwood said. “If we are lucky.”

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