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Unemployment claims have skyrocketed in the U.S. this past week due to the coronavirus pandemic shutting down large swathes of the economy, thus causing hundreds of thousands left without work for the foreseeable future. Mid-March brought on numerous U.S. states issuing most, if not all, non-essential business to close their doors to keep the virus from spreading as fast as it would with normal daily interaction. And many business have suffered from the calls to keep their distance from others during this time, otherwise known as "social distancing". The non-essential store closures has left many without the ability to earn their normal wages. Some of these business have been able to implement work-from-home projects and/or are continuing their normal daily operations from home (such as call centers) to keep things operating smoothly, while other business such as restaurants, gyms, movie theaters and stores do not have that option entirely. As of now grocery stores are not affected by the orders, being that they are essential to the public.
Whether mandated by the states or otherwise, the closures of all non-essential business have lead many to have no choice but to claim unemployment for the meantime. The number of those claiming unemployment benefits jumped from the initial 211,000 by over 70,000 in just the first week of businesses and the U.S. economy being affected by the pandemic, around early-mid March. According to the Department of Labor report released on March 19th, just over 280,000 claimed unemployment benefits from March 8th through March 14th. Now the number of people filing a claim in the U.S. has jumped to almost 700,000 in just the past few days. This number is continuously climbing as the situation unfolds.
Another financial issue coming from this pandemic is that now families are having to purchase more food and daily supplies than they normally would have. The virus has also caused dozens of states to close their schools for at a minimum of 2 weeks, many of which are beginning talks on whether or not to close their schools for the remainder of the school year. This would leave families with an almost 4-5 month summer break. Most families, financially speaking, rely on the normal schedule of a 2 month summer break. This means meals and childcare normally provided by the school will be non-existent until school resumes. Unemployment benefits will be desperately needed for this unprecedented spike of families in need of assistance.
I hope that our benefit system can handle this. The situation is unprecedented. When you consider a large portion of the country lives paycheck-to-paycheck, taking away so many opportunities to earn desperately needed funds all at the same time leads to chaos in the system.