You’ve probably heard the latter half of the pandemic described as a K-shaped recovery — a rapid bounce back to normal for professionals who work from home, mostly kept their jobs, and saved some money on commuting to boot. The other line in the K is the one that’s flat — people who lost their income, got buried in debt, and if they were lucky enough to find new work, didn’t find the kind of work that could get them out of that debt.
In a way, this was a speed-up of what was already happening. Everything that could move online did move online. Small business crumbled. The tech sector exploded. Amazon hired 425,000 people in 10 months, mostly at warehouse jobs; it hired another half-million drivers through subcontractors where it controls just about everything about their work, but isn’t liable for their crashes.
Alec MacGillis is a senior reporter at Propublica. His new book uses the story of one company to tell the story of an entire country coming apart at the seams — it’s called Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America