CONSUMER CATCH-UP: Americans looking for pandemic-proof jobs, California attorney general suing Betsy DeVos, SF rent prices down, passengers sue Carnival, Princess Cruise lines

BySimone Chavoor, Justin Mendoza KGO logo
Friday, June 5, 2020
In this edition of Consumer Catch-Up, Americans looking for pandemic-proof jobs, California attorney general suing Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, San Francisco rent prices down from a year ago, passengers sue Carnival and Princess Cruise lines.
In this edition of Consumer Catch-Up, Americans looking for pandemic-proof jobs, CA attorney general suing Betsy DeVos, SF rent prices down, passengers sue Grand Princess cruise.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- 73.5M Americans say they're looking for "pandemic-proof" jobs

Millions of Americans plan to look for "pandemic-proof" jobs, according to a new survey by WalletHub.

73.5 million Americans are expected to look for jobs that won't be as adversely affected by the current pandemic, or possible future pandemics, including jobs that allow remote work.

However, the expert economists WalletHub asked to comment on their findings expressed reservations. "Do not do it," said Ernie Goss, Director of the Institute for Economic Inquiry at Heider College of Business, Creighton University. "Today's pandemic, which disproportionately affected leisure & hospitality jobs, will be replaced by some other risk factor that negatively affects certain industries and occupations."

Not only that, but there's bound to be stiff competition for these kinds of jobs -- and with the unemployment rate already at 14.7% nationwide in April, and an expectation that it will rise to 20% in May, the number of people looking for work is already high.

"Looking for a job that is not exposed to pandemic risk can be more challenging at the moment. From the demand side, there are more unemployed people now looking for a job and the pandemic-proof type of jobs are particularly popular," says Liang Wang, Associate Professor, Department of Economics, The University of Hawaii at Manoa.

California Attorney General sues DeVos, Dept. of Education for 'mismanaging' student loan forgiveness program

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has filed a lawsuit against Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and the U.S. Department of Education over student loans -- yet another in a series of student loan-focused suits against Secretary DeVos and the Dept. of Education.

At the heart of Attorney General Becerra's lawsuit is the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. The PSLF was created in 2007 to encourage students to "enter qualifying public service jobs - like school teachers, EMTs, and fire fighters - in return for forgiving the remaining balance of their federal student loans after ten years of on-time loan payments," according to the Attorney General's statement. The program was temporarily expanded in 2018 as the Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

Attorney General Becerra's suit alleges that the Dept. of Education grossly mismanaged the TEPSLF program, leading to a 94% rejection rate for applicants. At its inception, the program was supposed to have a simple application with clear instructions on how to qualify. The suit alleges the Dept. of Education failed to implement this -- a failure that would violate the Administrative Procedure Act.

Secretary DeVos and the Dept. of Education are currently facing other lawsuits centered on student loans, including illegally garnishing wages over student loans, a violation of the CARES Act, and for hobbling a loan forgiveness program for students who were defrauded by predatory schools.

SF rental prices see "unprecedented drop," down 9.2% from 2019

San Francisco rental prices are seeing an "unprecedented drop" -- backing up theories that more Bay Area workers are leaving the city as work-from-home options increase.

Zumper, a San Francisco-based apartment-rental site, revealed in its June national rental report that the median price for a San Francisco one-bedroom apartment is now $3,360 -- down 9.2% year-over-year. Zumper declared it "the largest decline ever and the lowest price point it's been in over 3 years."

"All this talk of people leaving SF for a future of remote work is now backed up by hard data," tweeted Zumper CEO Anthemos Georgiades.

Silicon Valley saw even steeper declines. Rents dropped 15.9% in Mountain View, 14.1% in Menlo Park, and 14.3% in Cupertino.

"The magnitude of these rent drops may also be higher than our published data since some landlords conceal price drops in 'lease specials' like 6 weeks of free rent to move in," said Georgiades.

Passengers sue Carnival, Princess Cruises over 'gross negligence'

More than 60 people who had been passengers aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship filed a class action lawsuit in Los Angeles federal court against Carnival and Princess Cruise Lines.

The suit alleges that the cruise line demonstrated "gross negligence in the handling of passenger health and safety during the coronavirus outbreak," according to a press release. The suit claims that the cruise lines did not take proper precautions on cleaning and sanitizing the ship, did not screen passengers for illness, and failed to notify passengers of the possible dangers on board.

"Princess put profits before people, plain and simple," said co-counsel Mary Alexander of Mary Alexander & Associates. "At every turn, these cruise lines misinformed, misled, mistreated or put passengers in harm's way."

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