Unemployment Ranks Up by 6.6 Million as Coronavirus Hits Jobs

Unemployment Ranks Up by 6.6 Million as Coronavirus Hits Jobs

“This is the first time in 20 years I’ve had to worry,” she said. “I was like, oh, my God, my whole world’s falling apart. The first week, I was a mess. I was so depressed, so sickened. But you can’t worry about what you can’t control. I’m strong, and I always have been.”

Normally, most states offer roughly half of a worker’s previous wage for up to 26 weeks of unemployment, but the benefits can vary widely among states.

At the end of 2019, the average weekly benefit in Mississippi was $215, and just 9 percent of unemployed workers there were eligible to receive any payments, according to a Brookings Institution analysis. In Massachusetts, the average weekly benefit was $550, and 57 percent of jobless workers qualified.

In Florida and North Carolina, benefits last for only 12 weeks.

Under the new federal law, jobless workers will get an additional $600 each week through July. They will also be able to receive benefits for an additional 13 weeks.

Undocumented workers and those newly entering the labor force remain ineligible.

Getting those benefits quickly, though, has been complicated by the unreadiness of unemployment offices to handle the sudden rush of claims.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said this week that the state had shifted its telephone response to call centers and that the new system should be in place by Thursday, making it easier to get through.

Many states have yet to send out the $600 supplement. New York started issuing the additional money this week. “The federal government says they will reimburse us for it, but people need money now in their pocket,” Mr. Cuomo said on Wednesday. “New York will be doing that immediately.“


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