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Laid off from a high-paying job, this 61-year-old drives for delivery apps: ‘I don’t get a day off’

This is part of NBC News’ Checkbook Chronicles, a series of profiles highlighting the financial realities of everyday Americans.

Becky Melvin can usually be found on her phone — but not for the reasons many other Americans are.

Melvin, 61, of the Jacksonville, Florida, area, was laid off from a nearly six-figure public relations job in Nashville, Tennessee, in 2019. Since the start of the pandemic, she has worked seven days a week picking up and dropping off orders on delivery apps — typically for 12-hour stretches.

“If I don’t carry my phone with me to the bathroom, I might miss an order,” she said. “Or while I’m doing laundry.”


Primary source of income: Shuttling orders on Shipt and Instacart, earning about $50,000 before taxes last year. She expects that to rise to about $75,000 annually if she makes it through the hiring process for a 911 dispatcher role she’s pursuing. Before she lost her PR job, Melvin said, she made close to $100,000 annually.

Living situation: A three-bedroom, two-bathroom home, which she owns, with monthly homeownership costs totaling about $2,900.

Economic outlook: Melvin said her life could be worse but isn’t great right now.

“I sound like I’m doing OK, but I have all these things hanging over me. If any of them go at one time, it’s like a domino effect,” she said. “Don’t think I have it easy because I’m not on food stamps.”

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