They Had been on Equal Footing. Then the Floor Shifted.

“All you have to do is scratch it and take it out,” he said. “We’re really struggling to get through.”

In Ms. Arnone’s other area, home valuation, her friends and colleagues are benefiting from the booming real estate market, where sales in January rose 23.7 percent year over year, according to the National Association of Realtors. The extremely low mortgage rates have created a wave of refinances that require a revaluation.

“I don’t have much to complain about,” said Traci Warner, a friend of Mrs. Arnone’s and a reviewer in Waldorf, Md., South of Washington. After her husband was fired from his sales job in April, Ms. Warner’s job filled the gap.

It’s not that things are perfect, but unlike Mr. Gallagher, she doesn’t feel like she is barely holding on to them.

This contrast is reflected in the larger economy. Weekly unemployment claims of newly laid-off workers remain at historically high levels, even as stock indices hit record highs.

Vaccines have arrived, but because of their slow adoption, it will be months before restaurants, hotels, gyms, airports, shopping malls, and other businesses that rely on bringing people together can resume something similar to normal activity.

“It’s very uneven,” said Gregory Daco, chief US economist at Oxford Economics, a forecasting and research group. “It will take years for the most vulnerable populations to recover.” He found that not only have wages and salaries declined for the hardest-hit segments of the workforce, but so has total employment and participation.

At the top, the profits were staggering. In eight months after the U.S. pandemic, the nation’s roughly 650 billionaires grew by $ 1 trillion, according to a November study by the Institute for Policy Studies and other progressive groups. That included a $ 70 billion markup for just one of those magnates: Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

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