Drop in nail salon clients pushes immigrant workers into poverty | The State

After the massive shutdown in March, nail salons across New York City have struggled to recover.

There was a rapid increase in demand after the lockdown was lifted in July, but then appointments started to decline. Now, many of those companies are at breaking point, a drastic blow to businesses that are a financial engine for immigrant women.

Some nail salons have had Difficulty persuading clients that they are safe to return. Others, particularly those located in the business districts of Manhattan, they have not seen the clients common return because they fled the city and / or are working from home.

With 26 years of salon experience and two decades of financial savings invested in his personal business, Juyoung Lee (53) is barely staying afloat at “Beverly Nail Studio,” his salon in Flushing, Queens.

“Even though it was laborious before, I could always make the payments. But now, regardless of how hard I work, I don’t earn money, “he told The New York Times.

Visits to nail salons within the state are down by more than 50%, and gross sales are down by more than 40%, according to an October survey of 161 salon owners conducted by the Nail Industry Federation of New York (NIFNY).

The New York Nail Salon Workers Association (NYNSWA), An advocacy group affiliated with the Workers United union said that less than half of the 594 employees surveyed had returned to work in August. In New York City, there were 4,240 nail salons in 2016, according to the Census Bureau: 3% of nail salons nationwide are in Brooklyn and 2% are in Queens.

“Labor pressure is mainly the immigrant staff living day to day, supporting children and, in many cases, sick and elderly family members in their own nations, ”commented Luis Gómez, director of the affiliation. “Add in the recession and the fallout from the pandemic at the best of times, and we anticipate that many employees will fall further into poverty ”.

The halls were authorized to reopen in July with a capacity of 50% and attending by appointment. According to Dr. Joshua Zeichner, director of beauty and scientific analysis of the Mount Sinai Hospital In Manhattan, if everyone wears masks and customers are properly socially distancing, they are “Considerably safer than eating” in a restaurant.

But many business leaders fear that salons will not be able to regain the full trust of customers until a vaccine is widely used.

81% of the staff in nail salons nationwide are young women, and 79% are foreign-born, according to a 2018 report by UCLA Labor Center, in California.

“There is a subset of women who have been in the nail salon business for many years, no matter what,” said Prarthana Gurung, a campaign supervisor at Adhikaar, a Nepalese workplace that serves nearly 1,300 employees. of salons in New York City.

Hannah Lee, 60, came from South Korea, worked for years in Queens and Manhattan and saved enough to place her son in college and pay the rent on time. Now receive only a few tips, usually nothing at all. His salary plummeted from $ 1,000 per week to $ 300. She is behind on her lease and barely able to pay for her food, she said.

In Jackson Heights (Queens), the mexican Mariwvey Ramírez, 38, a single mother, returned to work not long ago after being suspended for the second time at the Rego Park salon where she worked due to neighborhood closures.

Because she is undocumented, she is not eligible to collect unemployment. She is now employed only part-time and her salary went from $ 700 a week to $ 400.

The only positive side has been that now that you have free time, you have signed up to study English, in part to expand her job options, but largely to advance the salon business as soon as the pandemic subsides.

Many stores have closed / Photo: Andrés Correa Guatarasma

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