MEMPHIS, Tenn. — In just two weeks, the numbers from the Tennessee Department of Workforce Development showed unemployment claims have jumped to nearly 95,000 as layoffs accelerate due to COVID-19.
Frank Johnson, a substitute teacher, is among the unemployed.
“The county schools decided they were going to shut down that day, so I already knew it was gonna be a matter of time,” said Johnson.
He said the company he works for put staff on furlough.
“I was going to Kelly services,” Johnson said. “They just told us that they weren’t going to pay us but that we needed to go apply for unemployment insurance. I have done that, and they are reviewing my claim right now so we’re gonna see how that works.”
The Greater Memphis Area is one of the hardest-hit areas of unemployment. Data showed more than 12,500 people are jobless.
“Luckily for me, I don’t have children,” Johnson said. “I do have a small bill on the house, so I’m kind of nervous about that. I am praying that this unemployment gets set up and luckily I’ve had a great community of people that have stepped in and helped but everyone doesn’t have that.”
Like Johnson, millions of people across the U.S. are waiting on coronavirus relief checks.
According to experts, it’s a possibility people won’t get their money until Mid-April or longer.
It’s reported that about half of Americans have experienced some kind of income loss.
“Then this package where they’re going to give us a few dollars,” he said. “I mean you’re bailing out Boeing and the airline industry to the tune of $50 billion. Now we get told that we need to have six months of income saved up and ready to go because if we’re not ready then it’s our fault and nobody is saying this about these corporations.”
Corporations and businesses have seen a massive drop in the stock market.
Data from the Associated Press’ NORC Center for Public Affairs said 67 percent of Americans now say the national economy is poor.
Johnson said COVID-19 proves there needs to be a safety net in place for people when disaster strikes again.
“They have literally gone two weeks and they are already at the government with their hand out asking for money,” he said. “So where is there six months in savings? Where is their savings account to pay their employees when something happens? They have none because look what happened. This one virus is shutting down and continue shut down each and one of our systems in this country and we are not protected.
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