The coronavirus quarantine has led to many people losing out on their jobs. The last reported numbers tell us that 11,100 people lost their jobs in the month of March alone. Seasonally adjusted data for March show that unemployment rates have gone up dreadfully from 3.8% to 5.1%.
To add to this concern, officials are of the opinion that numbers are likely to increase even further in April as the March figures don’t incorporate the COVID impact entirely.
The state Employment Security Department is overflowing with unemployment applications over the past few weeks. ESD has itself been hiring hundreds to handle the rush.
Last week, Nick Demerice of ESD mentioned that these claims are 7 times higher than the claims during the biggest great recession week.
While this is the condition, many like Mitzi Lawson are stuck with unemployment eligibility criteria. A self-employed massage therapist whose work has dried up because of the quarantine, Lawson has filed for employment but has been denied constantly stating terms of ineligibility. Clearly, the ESD is lacking to accommodate the self-employed victims of quarantine.
The federal CARES Act has extended eligibility to ‘many self-employed people and those that don’t have the typically required 680 hours.’ Lawson hopes to find refuge under this act.
Lawson talks about her distress, “But we have to be paid. We have to live. It’s ridiculous at this point.”
Back at the ESD, confusion has taken a major toll on proper functioning. Lack of experienced workers who are inept with the system and unknown to tricky employment criteria are contributing to a backlog in the system.
Demerice advised people like Lawson, who are to be covered under the Cares expansion act, to hold off their filing for claims till the18th of April, Sunday. ESD will take this time to update their filing system to include the expansion of the eligibility criteria, for a smooth run of the system. They will also work with the commissioner to help with the income verification.
ESD promises “all hands on deck” to help people waiting for financial aid.