COVID-19

Paying the bills when you’ve been out of work

Andie Corban Apr 30, 2020
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A resident looks out an apartment window in New York. For many, the rent is due tomorrow. Angela Weiss/Getty Images
COVID-19

Paying the bills when you’ve been out of work

Andie Corban Apr 30, 2020
A resident looks out an apartment window in New York. For many, the rent is due tomorrow. Angela Weiss/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

For many of the more than 30 million Americans who lost their jobs in the past six weeks, tomorrow is a stressful due date: rent day. We caught up with three people we spoke to last month, when they suddenly became out of work, to hear how their financial lives changed in April.

April Oliver

April Oliver of Boseman, Montana, recently graduated with her master’s degree in biochemistry and landed her dream job. However, her lab closed down before she was set to start working.

Oliver filed for unemployment but was told she didn’t qualify due to a clerical error. However, Oliver received her official job offer because the lab is reopening.

“I have to wait another month until my first paycheck,” Oliver said. “But we feel confident we’ll be able to make bills and credit card payments on time.”

Seth Schulman

Seth Schulman, a musician in Chicago, teaches private lessons at a local school and performs on the weekends. He hasn’t been able to teach his students since mid-March, when the school closed, and live performances have stopped too. Like Maria Barillas, he applied for unemployment insurance over a month ago. However, he hasn’t been able to receive any benefits yet.

“I’ve got a nice enough landlord to let me pay around half of my rent,” Schulman said. “But it feels pretty pathetic having to write a really long email or call them and be like, ‘Hey, things really suck. Can you spare me a bone?’ ”

Schulman recently heard from the school he works at that he can start virtual lessons with his students, which will help him make ends meet.

Maria Barillas

Maria Barillas works as a server and barista at a Brooklyn restaurant that closed in mid-March due to the coronavirus outbreak. She almost immediately started collecting unemployment insurance, along with the extra $600 that was added because of this crisis.

“It’s basically given me a full weekly wage,” Barillas said. “I feel confident that as long as I have unemployment, I can pay for stuff.”

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

How many people are flying? Has traveled picked up?

Flying is starting to recover to levels the airline industry hasn’t seen in months. The Transportation Security Administration announced on Oct. 19 that it’s screened more than 1 million passengers on a single day — its highest number since March 17. The TSA also screened more than 6 million passengers last week, its highest weekly volume since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. While travel is improving, the TSA announcement comes amid warnings that the U.S. is in the third wave of the coronavirus. There are now more than 8 million cases in the country, with more than 219,000 deaths.

How are Americans feeling about their finances?

Nearly half of all Americans would have trouble paying for an unexpected $250 bill and a third of Americans have less income than before the pandemic, according to the latest results of our Marketplace-Edison Poll. Also, 6 in 10 Americans think that race has at least some impact on an individual’s long-term financial situation, but Black respondents are much more likely to think that race has a big impact on a person’s long-term financial situation than white or Hispanic/Latinx respondents.

Find the rest of the poll results here, which cover how Americans have been faring financially about six months into the pandemic, race and equity within the workplace and some of the key issues Trump and Biden supporters are concerned about.

What’s going to happen to retailers, especially with the holiday shopping season approaching?

A report out recently from the accounting consultancy BDO USA said 29 big retailers filed for bankruptcy protection through August. And if bankruptcies continue at that pace, the number could rival the bankruptcies of 2010, after the Great Recession. For retailers, the last three months of this year will be even more critical than usual for their survival as they look for some hope around the holidays.

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