States Ease Access to Unemployment As Claims Climb

People wait in line for help with unemployment benefits at the One-Stop Career Center, Tuesday, March 17, 2020, in Las Vegas.

People wait in line for help with unemployment benefits at the One-Stop Career Center, Tuesday, March 17, 2020, in Las Vegas. AP Photo/John Locher

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

Unemployment claims jumped 33% this week and are expected to climb much higher as the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak worsens.

Faced with a deluge of unemployment claims, some states are waiving waiting periods and forgoing work search requirements to speed up laid-off workers’ access to benefits. 

Unemployment claims jumped nationwide by 33% last week as more and more businesses reduced hours or closed amid the coronavirus outbreak. But economists say that’s just the start of what is expected to be a steady onslaught of out-of-work people who need help. 

Forty-three states require people filing unemployment claims to wait a week before they can begin receiving benefits, according to the National Employment Law Project.

New York, Nevada, and California are among the states that have waived these waiting periods and will give people access to unemployment benefits the first week they are out of work.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak said the changes were meant to help ease Nevadans’ access to benefits when they need them the most.

The Economic Policy Institute estimates 5.25 million jobs will be lost by summer. States expected to be hardest hit include those where the hospitality industry makes up a larger share of employment, such as Nevada, Hawaii and Florida.

In Nevada, where two out of every five jobs are in leisure, hospitality, or retail, EPI estimates a 5.3% loss of private-sector jobs.

The hospitality and travel industry have been hit particularly hard as governors across the country have issued restrictions on large gatherings in order to halt the spread of the coronavirus. These orders have prevented conventions, concerts and other entertainment events from taking place. In many states, bars and restaurants have also closed or restricted dine-in service.

The onslaught of unemployment filings has been so swift that several state websites crashed because of high traffic.  

In Washington, D.C., more than 7,500 unemployment claims have been filed since Monday. The city council passed emergency legislation this week that removes work search provisions that require beneficiaries to continue applying for jobs while unemployed.

D.C. Councilmember Elissa Silverman, who chairs the labor and workforce committee, said that provision was struck because the hope is that once businesses reopen and the economy rebounds  workers will be able to return to their old jobs.

But in a city with a high cost of living, Silverman said she’s concerned that unemployment benefits, which are capped at $444 a week, are “unrealistic and unsatisfactory to meet people’s bills.”

At the D.C. Department of Employment Services on Thursday, which was closed to the public except for an information desk, former Marriott hotel banquet worker Mohammad Haque was among those trying to check on his unemployment claim. Haque said he and most of his co-workers had their hours cut to nothing last week.

“Rent is the problem, but everything is a crisis,” Haque said.

On Capitol Hill, federal lawmakers passed legislation this week that expands paid sick and emergency leave to some workers affected by the coronavirus. The bill also provides $1 billion in grants for states to pay for activities related to processing and paying unemployment insurance. Lawmakers are now in discussions on a third bill that would provide further economic stimulus.  

While the Trump administration is pushing for direct cash assistance that could be provided to Americans under a certain income threshold, Democrats have said unemployment insurance needs to be bolstered more so that those who truly need help can get it. 

But experts say there are merits to handing out cash. Expansion of unemployment benefits would provide more help to those who qualify, but the problem is that “a ton of people fall through the cracks of our unemployment system,” said Heidi Shierholz, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute.

“Checks to everyone is a way to get to people who fall through the system,” she said.

OTHER STORIES on Route Fifty:

Andrea Noble is a staff correspondent with Route Fifty.

NEXT STORY: What the Coronavirus Stock Meltdown Could Mean for Pensions

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.