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COVID-19

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

Mitchell Hartman May 28, 2020
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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
Heard on:
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

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy begins reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

Give me a snapshot of the labor market in the U.S.

U.S. job openings in February increased more than expected, according to the Labor Department. Also, the economy added over 900,000 jobs in March. For all of the good jobs news recently, there are still nearly 10 million people who are out of work, and more than 4 million of them have been unemployed for six months or longer. “So we still have a very long way to go until we get a full recovery,” said Elise Gould with the Economic Policy Institute. She said the industries that have the furthest to go are the ones you’d expect: “leisure and hospitality, accommodations, food services, restaurants” and the public sector, especially in education.

What do I need to know about tax season this year?

Glad you asked! We have a whole separate FAQ section on that. Some quick hits: The deadline has been extended from April 15 to May 17 for individuals. Also, millions of people received unemployment benefits in 2020 — up to $10,200 of which will now be tax-free for those with an adjusted gross income of less than $150,000. And, for those who filed before the American Rescue Plan passed, simply put, you do not need to file an amended return at the moment. Find answers to the rest of your questions here.

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