Thousands of people are getting furloughed as companies and schools all over the country cancel events, restrict travel and shutter campuses to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. For those without a safety net, such as paid time off or a healthy emergency fund, these actions can cause devastating financial pain.
The good news is that many organizations are also enlisting independent contract workers. There are risks of exposure in any public-service job these days, but if you need to find work, these are places where you may be able to find it quickly.
While restaurants are going empty, food delivery is going strong. There are dozens of food delivery platforms that enlist freelancers to deliver restaurant meals and groceries. Among the better meal delivery options: Caviar, GrubHub and DoorDash. All three have initiated contactless delivery to keep both workers and customers safe.
Amazon is getting such a flood of orders from people who don't want to head to the market that it's hiring 100,000 workers to keep up with the demand. Shoppers and warehouse workers earn $17 per hour. Delivery drivers for Amazon Flex shuttle Amazon packages from warehouses to consumer doorsteps. Flex estimates pay at $18 to $25 per hour, but some of that is based on tips and you shoulder your own expenses.
Likewise, grocery shopping and alcohol delivery services, such as Shipt, Instacart and Saucey are likely to be going gangbusters. (However, going to the store in today's environment may demand combat pay.)
With schools closed, working parents are likely to be scrambling for child care. Those who want to provide it can earn as much as $25 per hour. Trusted, Urban Sitter, Care and Bambino can help connect you with these opportunities.
Public places that have not closed during the pandemic are undergoing regular deep cleaning. If you're handy with gloves and cleaning supplies, you may be able to sweep up on the sanitation trend by signing on with Managed by Q, Tidy, Fairy or any number of other cleaning options. You can also advertise your availability to clean houses or offices on a free neighborhood website, such as Nextdoor.
All it takes is a trip to Costco to know that big-box grocery retailers are desperately in need of shelf stockers, clerks and cashiers. Shopper lines start forming at Costco stores hours before opening. The stores remain packed all day as customers hoard supplies to survive future "self quarantines." Target, Walmart, Trader Joe's and local supermarkets are similarly slammed with panicky customers. It's worth mentioning that both Costco and Trader Joe's offer attractive pay and great working conditions.
While it has nothing to do with the coronavirus, the Census Bureau is hiring 500,000 Americans to help complete questionnaires for the 2020 census. Census "enumerator" positions pay $13 to $30 depending on the cost of living in your area. Supervisory positions pay more.
Unlike driving for companies such as Uber and Lyft, the census also pays for training, mileage, expenses and travel time. The agency is looking for people who can work primarily during evening hours and weekends for an average of 20 hours a week. If you're struggling financially because of work lost because of the virus, the census may be a good place to help pick up the slack.
Kathy Kristof is the editor of SideHusl.com, an independent site that reviews hundreds of money-making opportunities in the gig economy.