LOS ANGELES. Most nail salon workers and owners were unable to find alternative jobs during salon closures due to the pandemic, and continue to face financial hardships after opening, according to a UCLA study published Thursday, November 18.
The report shows that only 14% of owners are confident they will be able to cover business expenses over the next month, including rent and payroll, and 83% of workers reported a decline in income.
“Most nail salons are small, family-owned businesses owned by immigrants and refugees who worry about paying for food and necessities even after reopening,” said Lucero Herrera, senior analyst at the UCLA Labor Center. She added that 88% of owners said they didn’t have enough clients to cover business expenses, including re-hiring employees, and “most workers now take home less than $ 400 a week.”
A study by the University of California Los Angeles Labor Center and the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative examines the opening of nail salons in California, a major hub of a multi-billion dollar industry. Nail salons have been particularly hard hit by COVID-19, but research on the impact of the pandemic has been scarce.
Revealing During COVID-19: The Experiences of California Nail Salon Workers and Owners explores how nail salons reopen and recover in the face of prolonged financial and emotional stress.
The researchers note that about half of nail salon workers and most nail owners experience moderate to extreme anxiety after reopening. Most workers say health and safety are their top concerns, while owners are primarily concerned with having enough customers.
“When nail salons first opened, most workers felt their employers were responding to proposals for COVID-19 protections such as masks, face masks and gloves,” said Lisa Fu, executive director of the nail salon association. “However, there is constant stress during a pandemic due to anti-Asian racism and the fact that most workers cannot take vacations.”
Fu said 62% of workers reported they did not receive paid sick leave or paid family leave, while workers also expressed concerns about prioritizing income over their own health and safety when clients were not wearing masks.