The telephone lines are jammed at all the unemployment offices of the United States as another 3.8 million people filed for unemployment benefits last week. According to the Labor Department report, this week’s data of 3.8 million is additional to that of the previous week’s 4.4 million unemployment claims. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, a total of 30.3 million people have applied for unemployment benefits in the last six weeks, wiping off all the jobs created in the previous decade. To put it in simpler times, approximately one of out five Americans who had a job in February lost their job in March and April.
Presently, the US has over 1.1 million active cases and 65,000 deaths due to coronavirus. The economy was destroyed like never before with restaurants, retailers, businesses of every type needed to shut down in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus. Even during the recession period, 665K Americans filed for unemployment claims. The weekly claims never went above 1 million marks since the inaugural claims which were started by the Department of Labour in 20017. A report by the NPR team found out that half the people who took part in the survey had either lost their job or had a cut in their working hours due to the pandemic and mandatory public health directives like social distancing measures. “It is frankly heartbreaking to see millions of people losing their jobs. All the more need for our urgent response and also that of Congress to help the country in avoiding heavy damage to the economy,” said Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.
As the situation looks out of control, Congress authorized and expanded the unemployment payments of $600 a week until July 2020. These benefits are made available not only to ordinary payroll workers but also to gig workers and the self-employed, who are usually not eligible. Due to the unstable unemployment delivery system, many workers are still waiting eagerly to collect their payments even though the payments were approved a month ago. An expert on unemployment insurance at the Century Foundation, Andrew Stettner said - “Anyone familiar with the unemployed workers knows it quite well how exhausting and confusing the process has been from filing for the unemployment and getting paid. Everyone can only hope that the process is made easier with faster processing time.”
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