Sociol Inq. 2022 Jun 23:10.1111/soin.12497. doi: 10.1111/soin.12497. Online ahead of print.
Recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has served as a catalyst for precaritization highlighting the instability plaguing many American workers. As the rapid spread of the virus led to the closure of businesses, both temporarily and permanently, the nation reached record high levels of unemployment. The effects of the pandemic have fallen unequally among different groups forcing women, people of color, and low-income, precarious workers to endure the brunt of the economic downturn. In particular, the hospitality industry, comprised of those employed in restaurants, bars, event/convention centers, theme parks, and the like, was and continues to be the hardest hit by the effects of COVID-19. We explore the experiences of 454 hospitality industry workers in the Metro Orlando, Florida area during the COVID-19 pandemic using data collected using an online survey. The purpose of this research is twofold. First, it seeks to identify the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic upon hospitality workers in the metro Orlando area across the dimensions of employment status, financial stability, mental health, housing, and food security. The second aim of this research adopts Kalleberg and Vallas’ recommendation for analysis of hierarchies in precarious work by identifying differential outcomes across the aforementioned dimensions along the lines of race, gender, and income type (salaried, tipped, hourly) to explore stratification within the precariat. Findings reflect the potentially devastating consequences of precarity and expand upon conceptualizations of the precariat by offering empirical evidence of disparities within this group.