COVID-19

State workers under pressure to keep up with soaring unemployment

Jack Stewart Apr 10, 2020
HTML EMBED:
COPY
An unemployment agency office is currently closed because of COVID-19 in Detroit, Michigan on March 26, 2020. Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

State workers under pressure to keep up with soaring unemployment

Jack Stewart Apr 10, 2020
An unemployment agency office is currently closed because of COVID-19 in Detroit, Michigan on March 26, 2020. Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Over the last three weeks, almost 17 million workers have filed for unemployment benefits. Businesses across the country have had to close their doors to customers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The incredible surge in unemployment claims is putting a huge amount of pressure on the public service workers processing them, according to their unions. 

“It’s strenuous, I mean, you feel like the days fly, but the mental stress when you’re home really hits at that time. It’s heavy,” said Helen Esposito, an unemployment claims processor in New York State.

She’s been in the job for almost 30 years and seen other unemployment spikes, like after 9/11, the Great Recession and Hurricane Sandy.

“If you put all of those situations together and times them by three — this is what we’re looking at,” Esposito said.

Unions that represent public employees say many can’t work from home and some are putting in long hours, including weekends. 

Thea Lee, president of the Economic Policy Institute, said the next federal relief package should provide more support to state and local governments.

“If we don’t do that, they will start cutting back, firing people, cutting hours, in the next couple of months,” Lee said. She added that having fewer public service employees doing things like processing unemployment claims, runs the risk of exacerbating the economic crisis for everyone.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.

Latest Episodes From Our Shows

7:59 AM PDT
9:34
3:00 AM PDT
7:54
7:57 AM PDT
1:50
Sep 21, 2021
26:33
Sep 21, 2021
30:05
Sep 21, 2021
3:40
Aug 26, 2021
34:03