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School Bus Driver: I Lost My Job Over The Dispatch Radio

Angelita Wynn has driven a school bus for six years.

Wynn was driving the kids back home on her afternoon run in Pittsburgh one day in March when she got word her job was going away. Over the radio.

"Our dispatcher came across the radio saying that school was closed, so that's how I found out," Wynn said. "And that's the last time I've been in the bus."

Her favorite thing about her job was the sense of freedom it offered, where driving can get you from one place to another. Her least favorite thing: It didn't pay a living wage.

Wynn notes that most school bus drivers are retired or married to someone who brings in another income. "If you don't fit in those categories it can be a struggle," she said.

She typically collects unemployment during the summer when school is not in session. But the abrupt layoff this spring and a weeks-long delay in getting her jobless benefits has thrown her for a loop.

"My bank account is in the negative," Wynn said. "I've had to rely on savings that will not last forever. It has led to sleepless nights and anxious days."

But she doesn't miss her job. "Truthfully ... this is a much-needed respite period for me."

When things go back to normal, she's looking forward to visiting her hair salon. "My hair is getting difficult to tame."

Read more stories in Faces Of The Coronavirus Recession.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Horsley is NPR's Chief Economics Correspondent. He reports on ups and downs in the national economy as well as fault lines between booming and busting communities.