COVID-19

COVID-19 jobless claims are now over 40 million. Many are still waiting for unemployment benefits.

Mitchell Hartman May 28, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
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Since pandemic lockdowns began, at least 30 million Americans have been approved to receive state or federal unemployment benefits. Cindy Ord/Getty Images
COVID-19

COVID-19 jobless claims are now over 40 million. Many are still waiting for unemployment benefits.

Mitchell Hartman May 28, 2020
Since pandemic lockdowns began, at least 30 million Americans have been approved to receive state or federal unemployment benefits. Cindy Ord/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Weekly jobless claims shot into the multimillions in March with pandemic lockdowns. The latest numbers show that last week, there were 2.1 million more workers seeking aid. That means total layoffs since the coronavirus struck are now at nearly 41 million.

Since the crisis began, at least 30 million Americans have been approved to receive state or federal unemployment benefits. But many more who are out of work due to COVID-19 are still trying to get on the rolls.

Prep cook Nikolas Krevanko was laid off from his full-time job at a restaurant in Portland, Oregon, in mid-March.

“Filed unemployment, they got back to me at one point with a letter— ‘We found an issue, we’ll contact you later’ — but I haven’t gotten a single cent yet,” Krevanko said.

He went about eight weeks without pay and barely made his rent. He just started a new job at a food cart that does take out.

He expected to get state unemployment benefits while he was out of work, plus $600 a week in federal pandemic pay.

That program also expands eligibility to people who aren’t usually covered, including gig workers and solo business owners, like Brooke Wetzel, a florist in Los Angeles. She applied, was denied, then had to apply again.

“So I stopped working March 17, and the money didn’t come through until May 8,” Wetzel said.

Advocates for the unemployed estimate millions who’ve applied for jobless benefits are still waiting to get their money.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What’s the latest on the extra COVID-19 unemployment benefits?

As of now, those $600-a-week payments will stop at the end of July. For many, unemployment payments have been a lifeline, but one that is about to end, if nothing changes. The debate over whether or not to extend these benefits continues among lawmakers.

With a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases, are restaurants and bars shutting back down?

The latest jobs report shows that 4.8 million Americans went back to work in June. More than 30% of those job gains were from bars and restaurants. But those industries are in trouble again. For example, because of the steep rise in COVID-19 cases in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, increased restrictions on restaurant capacities and closed bars. It’s created a logistical nightmare.

Which businesses got Paycheck Protection Program loans?

The numbers are in — well, at least in part. The federal government has released the names of companies that received loans of $150,000 or more through the Paycheck Protection Program.

Some of the companies people are surprised got loans include Kanye West’s fashion line, Yeezy, TGI Fridays and P.F. Chang’s. The companies you might not recognize, particularly some smaller businesses, were able to hire back staff or partially reopen thanks to the loans.

You can find answers to more questions on unemployment benefits and COVID-19 here.

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