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Yes, you read that right. We are all well aware of the importance of healthcare professionals at this crucial time. We read about the admirable efforts of frontline doctors, nurses, administrative staff, etc in handling the burden of patients. They are out there risking their health for our benefit.

And yet, The Employment Situation tells us that 43,000 jobs disappeared. How did the Coronavirus pandemic cause unemployment in Health Care Services? At the same time, the news also reports a shortage of healthcare professionals. What is happening? We will find out in this post.

Let’s begin by glancing at the sector during normal times when the economy is up and running. How were things before COVID-19 hit?

Overview of Health Care Services Sector

The sector employed an estimated 19.1 million people in 2018, considering the social assistance sector as well, which is closely linked in its function. The top 3 roles employing a maximum number of people are registered nurses, nursing assistants, and personal care aides. Physicians are the 5th largest role.

Work in this sector is mentally and physically demanding with people working an average of 35 hours per week. Employees earn an average of $28.30 per hour, though there is much variation with the role.

Impact of COVID-19

Despite the US being one of the top countries in medical spending, the surge in COVID-19 cases has stretched the healthcare system thin. Reports of shortages of masks, ventilators, beds, and other protective and emergency equipment are rife.

Due to lockdowns and stay-at-home orders in most states, job losses have taken place in dentists’ offices, physicians and other healthcare practitioners. The widespread unemployment in other sectors has blown back upon dentists, dermatologists, chiropractors, etc. whose services aren’t seen as a grave necessity in times requiring high savings. The medical assistance staff in such places also get furloughed.

Since elective surgeries have been put on hold, the associated staff have been furloughed. Hospitals have been compelled to send staff home and cut physicians’ pay because they haven’t the funds to deal with the pandemic. The CARES act funds are yet to arrive at the time this post is being written.

Caregiving staff cannot work due to the stay-at-home orders. The trickle-down effect of employment across the economy means that people may not be able to afford specialized care, either.

Jobs Still Hiring in Health Care Services

Some health care institutions like hospitals may be open to hiring administrative positions, janitorial staff, etc. States have expressed a need to recall retired nurses owing to the shortage due to the disease burden. Some of those skills are transferable to the pharma sector which may be interested in recruiting given the acceleration of drug testing.

Future Prospects For Health Care Services (And Social Assistance)

The under-preparation demonstrated by the healthcare system has shone a light upon the deficiencies of the sector. The US has been criticized for underspending on public health care. 

Considering the onslaught of climate change, it will be necessary to prepare for future public health emergencies like this one. Many people will be displaced and suffer from diseases in the future as weather extremes like heat waves and sea-level rise are predicted.

It is likely that this sector will recover very quickly when the economy runs at full strength again. There is a push to increase testing capacity and human capital in health care supporting companies including the pharma sector. This could lead to new job opportunities. 

The pandemic has underscored the necessity for data collection and analyses, so there should be opportunities especially for graduates who can pick up these skills. Mental health awareness is only rising and perhaps the pandemic will end with the need to address traumas caused by it. 

With the increase in the geriatric population, there should be scope for those having and willing to acquire geriatric care and social assistance skills. Also, social workers, community outreach workers, etc. have important roles to play in harmonious living and should quickly recover once stay-at-home orders lift.

Transportation and Warehousing are one of the most important employers in the US. After the worldwide air travel restrictions imposed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, this sub-sector made headlines with job losses and furloughs. Let’s look broadly at unemployment in transportation and warehousing and the likely trends for the future.

Profile Of Transportation And Warehousing Sector

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this sector employed about 7 million people in 2018. On average, about 3.5% unemployment benefits claimants were from this sector over the previous 2 quarters.

 The top occupations in this sector are drivers-truck and freight, sales and freight workers, cab drivers, and postal service mail carriers. Drivers constitute the largest number of employees. Employees earn an average hourly wage of $25. Many gig workers are employed and paid on an hourly basis in this sector.

The best-paid workers in this sector are airline pilots followed by flight attendants.

The working hours’ number a minimum of 38 on average. 

Impact Of COVID-19

Pennsylvania reports the highest number of layoffs from this sector. In states like Texas and Rhode Island, this sector has reported significant layoffs.

Unemployment rate estimates are yet to be released reflecting the complete impact of the coronavirus but, it’s likely to be higher than the last time there was such a peak- 15% in June 2010, amidst the GFC-2008.

Air Travel

The US restricted international air travel in March as the pandemic began its global spread. On March 11, the US had banned foreign national entering from China, Iran, and some European countries. Non-essential international travel was banned. The borders with Canada and Mexico closed on March 20-21. 

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) states that 8500 passenger aircraft have been grounded due to travel restrictions and dropping demand world over. This has caused most airlines to furlough employees.

The President is now considering some restrictions on domestic air travel since the virus is spreading very quickly and the deaths are spiking. Florida, Maryland, South Carolina and Texas governor have already ordered passengers from New York, New Jersey or Connecticut to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Rail 

Amtrak reports very few bookings and record cancelations, forcing it to reduce operation along many routes. The President is also considering restrictions between viral hotspots.

Freight Transportation still sees the operation as essential supplies are being transported in bulk. However, the rail freight volume has shown a huge dip.

Trucking

With the drop in demand, cargo transport is suffering. Truck drivers find themselves without work. 

Intra-city Transportation

States like New York with extensive subway networks are seeing a huge drop in ridership. Buses also report the same.

In recent years, cab aggregator services have grown in employment share. The self-quarantine restrictions and city-wide lockdowns have caused an unavoidable reduction in ridership. Drivers are now lucky if they get 3-4 passengers a day.

While Uber and Lyft, the two biggest aggregation apps, pushed for their drivers to be eligible for UI benefits, there are no guidelines yet on how they will avail the compensation. These companies classed drivers as contractors and thus didn’t pay into the unemployment insurance program.

Jobs still available

As you can see in our article on jobs you can get during the lockdown, logistics and e-commerce companies are hiring for their fulfillment centers. They need people with a commercial driving license. Similarly, some pest control or lawn management companies, as well as cleaning companies, have advertised for drivers.

Future Prospects for Transportation and Warehousing

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) has provided $29 million as part of the bailout to support airlines in keeping employees on the payroll. However, this restriction will only last until September 2020. 

Second, the act allows airlines to fire up to 10% of its employees. SO, altogether we can expect job losses eventually unless the global economy bounces back very fast.

Fewer riders on public transportation within cities and the economic slowdown will drop revenue for transit agencies. They will have low operating expenses especially if they want to retain employees. The public transportation companies are in talks with the government for some easing measures.

The main reason for this sector being affected is its nature of being an intermediate service between producers and consumers. When consumption is down, there is no requirement for cargo transportation, while inventoried warehouses languish in the hope of better days. Employees are going in to work at warehouses with precautionary measures in place.

The transportation and warehousing sector will likely make the fastest recovery when the lockdown ends. At least the public transportation companies will make revenues again, though the recoupment of air travel will need resumption of international flights. Warehouses are still functional though at reduced capacity, and with the end of the pandemic should be running at full steam again.

 

The latest report from the Department of Labor for the week from March 21-28 is just in. The unemployment claim numbers are at an all-time high for the second week running at 6,648,000 seasonally adjusted initial claims. The labor department reports that most states attribute these numbers to layoffs led by the accommodation and food services sector.

In this post, we take a sectoral overview of accommodation and food services as an employer and see the unemployment scenario from its perspective. The coronavirus-induced economic slowdown has made the futures of thousands of chefs, bartenders, wait staff, baristas, etc. uncertain. Now, all these employees have been made eligible for Unemployment Insurance claims.

Profile Of Accommodation And Food Services Sector

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this sector employed 14 million people in 2018. It showed an average unemployment rate of 5.4% over the last 4 months.

 The top occupations in this sector are waiting or food service, food preparation, and cashiers. The largest number of employees are wait staff, followed by cooks. Employees earn an average hourly wage of $15.87. Many are employed and paid on an hourly basis in this sector.

The working hours’ number a minimum of 25 on average. Cooks may work much longer hours in a week.

COVID-19 Causes Unemployment in Accommodation And Food Services

This sector has reported the highest number of layoffs in the following states:

  • Texas
  • Michigan
  • Illinois
  • New York
  • Indiana
  • Wisconsin 
  • Virginia
  • Iowa
  • Missouri
  • Tennessee
  • Rhode Island
  • Maine
  • Alabama
  • Georgia

The reason for this is the lockdown of hotels, restaurants, pubs, bars, etc. by the US government in light of these places being potential clusters. As this sector depends on very regular cash flow, it doesn’t have the nest egg that bigger conglomerates can gather. The impact of dropping sales is seen very quickly.

In turn, employment in related businesses such as hotel aggregators like Booking.com gets affected. Such businesses survive on commissions from their third party services between customers and providers of accommodation and food services.

The sector’s nature makes remote work impossible, forcing layoffs and furloughs. Americans are clearly following social distancing norms well.

Types Of Jobs Still Available

As you can see in our post on jobs that are still hiring, dining out took a huge hit, but meal delivery services survive and some are thriving. Pizza chains, take-out meal joints, etc. have scaled up hiring to deal with larger order volumes. A few restaurants have switched to offering delivered and take out meals and are thus surviving with the staff getting reduced wages.

The most common job roles will be in food preparation, delivery services, and stocking/inventory work. It will be very difficult to find more specialized and high paying job roles at this point in time.

Projections For The Future

If the coronavirus-triggered shutdowns continue for too long, worldwide recovery for this sector will be difficult. The growth of accommodation and food services as an employment generating sector was fueled in recent years by the general economic growth and the resulting rise in disposable incomes.

With many big employers having global supply chains, the worldwide economic shutdowns in response to coronavirus will cause losses everywhere. Another big driver of the growth of accommodation and food services is tourism which will surely fall due to job losses.

 

The American Hotel and Lodging Association says that the hotel sub-sector alone has had losses of over $5 billion. Making up the amounts to retroactively pay employees still on rolls when the economy revives, will be hard without a quick revival of global trade and supply chains. 

The restaurant industry was facing labor charge pressures, spiraling rent costs and criticism about food wastage even before the pandemic. This is a good opportunity for corrective actions that go beyond merely restarting production and service.

Job losses, layoffs, unemployment, furloughs- these are all the words we have been seeing in the past few weeks. As the US economy seems geared to head into a recession, people are naturally anxious about the future of their employment. In this scenario, are there any careers available despite coronavirus? Is anyone hiring?

The good news is that yes, there are several new jobs coming up even now, some in response to the coronavirus-situation. The bad news is that some of them may require specialized skills. But, don’t let that stop you from applying to the jobs we list below.

Coronavirus: Careers To Look At Now

There are some companies whose business model is letting them survive the ‘new normal’. They have scaled up hiring to meet the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic.

E-Commerce and Retailers

The global e-commerce giant, Amazon, said on March 21 in an Instagram statement that it is looking to hire about 100,000 new employees. It needs more delivery agents, warehousing staff and people to man its brick-and-mortar ventures.

Similarly, Walmart announced plans to hire over 150,000 workers on an hourly basis to fulfill their warehousing and store requirements. 

Grocery chains and supermarkets like CVS, 7-Eleven, etc. are also hiring for various roles including stocking shelves, etc. Grocery delivery service Instacart is looking for gig workers and personal shoppers. Demand for home delivery has jumped in several states.

Meal delivery services have also experienced an upsurge in demand and are looking to increase staff. Papa John’s, Pizza Hut, etc. continue to have good demand. Big FMCG companies like Pepsico are also hiring since they continue to produce packaged food.

HealthCare

Healthcare is obviously one of the most important sectors right now. Protective equipment manufacturers, hospitals, etc are looking to hire doctors, nursing staff, medical assistants, etc. Job search portals are teeming with healthcare job postings.

State Labor Departments

The Labor Departments of most of the states are in the process of hiring people to help process the massive surge in unemployment insurance applications. New York and Michigan have already begun. Some states are even calling upon retired employees to help process the common complaints of people unable to access their accounts.

Gaming

Some gaming companies are hiring now and with people looking to kill time at home, the sector is slated to grow. Popular gaming platforms and services such as Steam and Xbox have reported a huge rise in the number of users.

Technology Sector

Some of the world’s biggest companies operate within this sector like Google, Apple, Microsoft, Netflix, etc.. Zoom has just exploded because of the massive adoption of teleconferencing for remote working jobs; as companies that are so far surviving have told employees to work from home. They conduct interviews online.

EdTech provider OutSchool is hiring teachers for its K-12 programs.

Sectors Bearing The Brunt Of Coronaviral Recession

The forced shutdowns have affected the following employers very badly:

  • Restaurants, Bars, Pubs
  • Small brick and mortar grocers
  • Cab Drivers
  • Shopping Malls
  • Airlines
  • Event Managers
  • Sitters, Petwalkers, etc.
  • Automotive companies and oil companies
  • Hotels, Inns, etc.
  • Big fashion companies like Macy’s, JCPenney, Victoria’s Secret, etc.

Concerns With The Unemployment Scene: Food For Thought

Since the economic situation is deeply unpredictable now, speculation is rife about how people losing their jobs will settle into the new normal. The nature of the new normal is itself unclear.

One problem with the newly available jobs is of course that they may not be accessible to many groups of job-seekers due to location constraints or unsuitability. People with disabilities will have a tougher time.

Another concern is the temporary and low-skilled nature of some of these coronavirus careers. The initial boom brought on by the extreme situation may fade once the pandemic fades, laying off many such employees. 

There is also a dearth of jobs for white-collar workers with many years of experience. If more companies go bankrupt, they too will form a large part of the unemployed. They may also experience more ageism than ever before.

On a healthcare-related note, people are desperately rushing to job fairs for non-online recruitment processes, not following distancing precautions. This may prolong the pandemic.

In these desperate times, any measures that sustain the economy are welcome. As people look to earn square meals, any jobs are welcome to many workers. It’s hard to see a bright side to the scary numbers coming out every day, but any economic change creates certain opportunities while damaging others.

If you have lost your job, don’t lose hope yet. You may be eligible for unemployment benefits, so ensure that you file a UI claim right away. The US government has expanded Unemployment Insurance eligibility criteria to deal with the coronavirus-induced joblessness. But what if you live in one of the states with the worst unemployment insurance benefits?

We will look into the states having the worst unemployment insurance system, at some length. We examine whether these states will be able to support their citizens with the present condition of UI benefits and what changes they will need to make ASAP. We consider data from the last quarter preceding the coronavirus-recession and the claims filed from March 15-21 to understand what needs to be done.

Overview of The States With The Worst Unemployment Insurance Benefits

The first criterion we are using to shortlist the worst states is the maximum benefit amount cap. We look at states that pay less than $300.

  • Florida
  • Tennessee
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Arizona
  • Alabama

Note that you may receive much less than the maximum Weekly Benefit Amount, based on your base period earnings. Without the additional weekly amount of $600 made available by the CARES Act, life in these states would have been harder in these trying times.

The claim numbers mentioned below are likely underestimates considering how many people were unable to get through to the system. Recipiency rates measure what proportion of jobless applicants actually received UI benefits.

Florida

The state saw 67,558 new claims filed last week. At 11% recipiency rate in the last quarter, the state ranks quite low in the number of people actually getting UI benefits, at 47. The Florida Labor Department has signed an agreement with the Federal government to implement the CARES Act. Hence it will need to fast track the processing of new claims and effectively implement the relaxed rules to reach all the unemployed who need benefits.

The largest number of claimants last quarter belonged to the Administration and Support/Waste Management and Remedial Services sector, which is badly affected now as well by the economic shutdown. Now that casual workers and the self-employed are eligible for UI benefits, it remains to be seen whether this sector will be the worst affected. 

Florida residents can get a maximum of $875 in UI benefits, not counting the one-time direct payment mandated by the Coronavirus Economic Security Act.

Tennessee

Tennessee ranks slightly better at 44, with a recipiency rate of 15%. With 36,394 new claims filed last week, the state has a slightly lower burden than Florida. 

 

In Tennessee, the largest share of UI claims came from former employees of the manufacturing sector, last quarter. Tennessee houses some automotive manufacturing plants which have slashed production. Guidelines have not yet come which would enable the self-employed to file for benefits. Tennessee residents can hope to get a maximum of $875 in UI benefits.

Louisiana

With an increase of 70,365 in claims filed in the last week, Louisiana is clearly in need of a massive scaling up of UI claims processing infrastructure and staff. The low recipiency rate of 10.9% indicates that the state will have to work quite hard to meet the needs of new claimants.

The sector with the most volatility in this state is construction, with the largest share of UI claimants last quarter. As the sector has a large proportion of contractual employees, it will be a significant contributor to unemployment, now. Those who qualify for maximum WBA in Louisiana can hope to get $847 at most.

Mississippi

This state has been fortunate so far to have only seen a rise in unemployment claims by 5,576. These numbers are likely to spike by next week. The state has also included people caring for a family member afflicted with COVID-19 or those whose care facilities are closed due to the pandemic.

Mississippi has among the lowest UI benefits and a worker can hope to get at maximum $835, adding in the $600 stipend. It also has the worst UI recipiency rate at only 9.2%, necessitating a huge effort from the government.

The most unstable industry in Mississippi appears to be the manufacturing sector with the largest number of UI claimants last quarter. This is likely to continue as the state’s backbone is this sector, which will now face a drop in demand besides shutdown.

Arizona

Arizona saw the filing of unemployment insurance claims jump by 25,424 last week. Its recipiency rate at 11.2% has room for improvement without which many unemployed people will hit poverty. The state is at 46, very close to the bottom in this respect. The sector giving the highest number of UI claimants has consistently been Administration and Support/Waste Management and Remedial Services, this past quarter. At $840 being the maximum UI benefit one can hope to get, the state will need to overhaul the system to meet the UI needs of the newly eligible claimants.

Alabama

While Alabama may offer a maximum unemployment benefit of only $255 which with the stipend will amount to $855, it got the best recipiency rate among these 6 states at 25.6%. It ranks in the middle of a list of all the American states. 

However, the Alabama legislature had passed a law to cut down the number of UI payments weeks to 14 from 26. They may need to abrogate this law if the economic slowdown takes a long time to recover.

The manufacturing sector in Alabama has thrown up the largest number of UI claimants last quarter. This one as well as the other major sector, tourism will most likely be hit badly.

Lessons for UI from GFC-2008

Compared to the Unemployment Insurance changes made to cope up with the 2008-10 financial crisis, the measures this time are broader. The amount of money paid out by the program will be known only once it’s all over, but the outlay is higher at the outset.

Back then the benefits were extended for 99 weeks, whereas this time it’s 39 weeks. But this is only the beginning. The benefits increase this time around is much higher, on the other hand. Compared to only $25 last decade, the weekly $600 dollars this time for four months, is a huge improvement.

UI claimants were also given a big health insurance subsidy. This time around the government is sponsoring health insurance costs, but mostly for COVID-19 related health issues. However, most employers furloughing people are still giving regular health insurance coverage for 2 months.

 

The US government will need to implement the Families First Act and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act at war footing to save the US economy from collapse and thus the lives of Americans. Not just these six worst unemployment insurance states, but all the states will have to ensure that the unemployed don’t fall through the cracks of the complicated UI systems.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Bill was signed into law on March 18, bringing potential relief to millions of Americans. Though it is a good beginning, dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic needs a lot more. Recognizing this, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) further expands unemployment, healthcare, etc. measures and aid. 

The President signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act into law on March 27, 2020. This $2.2 trillion package brings relief to the highly stressed businesses, workers and families reeling from COVID-19, while also bolstering essential goods and services. We take a brief look at everything in this law that supports the unemployed, directly and indirectly.

The government is progressively expanding the unemployment insurance umbrella to cover as many people losing jobs as possible. It’s important to remember to file unemployment insurance claim as soon as you know you are losing your job. If you have exhausted your unemployment benefits you may be eligible for Extended Benefits. Keep reading for more details.

Provisions for Unemployment Assistance

This law extends the eligibility to the following persons:

  1. Those who are not eligible for regular unemployment compensation or Extended Benefits under Law Or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation 
  2. Those who have exhausted their regular UI benefits or Extended Benefits under law or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation 
  3. Those who can self-certify that they would be able and available to work however
    1. They are suspected to have contracted COVID-19 or are suffering from it
    2. A member of the household is suspected to have contracted COVID-19 or are suffering from it
    3. They are a caregiver for a member of the household suffering from COVID-19
    4. They are primary caregiver for a child unable to attend school closed due to the pandemic. Or for a family member unable to attend a facility that provides care usually.
    5. Unable to go to work or workplace closed due to self-quarantine recommended by healthcare workers
    6. Scheduled employment didn’t commence due to the pandemic
    7. They had to quit due to COVID-19
  4. Those who are self-employed, seeking part-time employment, without sufficient work history in the base period.

It excludes the following people:

  1. Those provided telework with pay
  2. Those availing paid sick leave

Period of UI Benefits

A covered individual can receive assistance for a maximum of 39 weeks. This includes the period for which one was able to get regular unemployment assistance, which is usually 26 weeks in most states with some exceptions. One can get Extended Benefits during the remaining period. 

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act waives the one week waiting period to get unemployment payments. The amounts will not be less than the normally calculated weekly benefits amounts. There will also be a weekly payment of $600 over the regular unemployment allowance, for four months.

The payments will arrive without the one week waiting period because the program is fully federally funded.

Elaboration of Extended Benefits

The law details the eligibility conditions to avail Extended Benefits as follows:

  • Those who have exhausted regular compensation under state or federal Law for any benefit years after July 1, 2019.
  • Those with no right to UI compensation or any other compensation under any federal law.
  • Those who are able and available to work, and actively seeking work though they may not find work due to the pandemic.

They will get as much as they were entitled to get under the regular program or an equivalent amount.

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act: Other Important Provisions

The CARES Act includes some other important measures to help mitigate the effects of massive job losses. The unemployment phenomenon has a trickle-down effect on people’s ability to meet their basic needs, which this law addresses. COVID-19 has caused an extraordinary situation where people can’t look for new jobs even if they wanted to.

Direct Cash Transfers

Individual Americans earning up to $75,000 will receive a one time transfer of $1200, while married couples earning up to $150,000 will receive $2,400. Families with children get an additional $500 per child.

This will help buy essential supplies and out-of-pocket meds.

Withdrawing From Your Investments

  • 401(k) loan limits are now up to $100,000 from $50,000
  • Required Minimum Distribution compulsions have been suspended from IRAs and 401(k) plans (at age 72). RMDs were meant to ensure that people didn’t avoid taxation on their retirement funds to leave them as inheritances.
  • No early withdrawal penalty on withdrawing retirement accounts for COVID-19 related reasons.

Others CARES That Support People

  • Americans need healthcare the most at this crucial time and thus the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act appropriates $127 billion to hospitals alone. 
  • The Act provides employee retention credits for businesses against an employer’s portion of payroll taxes, to encourage those trying to retain employees and paying them during this time.
  • Employment development program like the State Trade Expansion Program from the Small Business Administration will continue to be funded.
  • Funding for programs like the Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program will continue, potentially providing employment avenues for those interested in acquiring such training.

 

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act is a big step in the right direction, addressing the large-scale unemployment concerns facing the country. At the end of the pandemic, the economy should not be in shambles and the law attempts to balance this with healthcare. 

The real challenge lies in implementing the ambitious provisions effectively. People are facing problems accessing unemployment insurance departments at this point in time. The very first thing to do for the government is to scale up the capacity of state labor departments to help people file UI claims.

In a speedy display of rare bipartisanship, Congress voted to get The Families First Coronavirus Response Act and President Trump signed it into law, passed on March 18. The law brings welcome relief to states in need of funds to pay unemployment insurance to claimants. It commits $1 billion to cover the costs of processing and paying UI as well as 100% federal funding for Extended Benefits. 

Also referred to as H.R. 6201, the law details provisions for paid sick leave to workers diagnosed with COVID-19 or caring for family members who may have the disease. There are certain requirements, which states must meet to get the funding. There are also welcome measures that look into other complementary aspects of combating this global pandemic.

What Are The Unemployment-Related  Provisions?

This section of the overall act has been called the Emergency Unemployment Insurance Stabilization and Access Act of 2020. The biggest breather comes from the provision of $1 billion as emergency grants to states for the processing and payment of unemployment insurance benefits.

There is also a $500 million additional fund for staffing, technology requirements, systems, and other administrative costs. To obtain this $500 million assistance, the states have to:

  • Make it mandatory for employers to notify the laid-off employees about potential UI eligibility
  • Provide two ways to apply for UI by phone, in person or online
  • Keep applicants informed about the status of their application- whether or not its being processed and how to improve the success rate of processing

States which experience at least a 10% increase in unemployment may receive emergency grants worth $500 million. This is over the aforementioned provision. These states would be required to:

  • temporarily ease eligibility requirements such as work search and waiting period so that more people can access UI
  • increase employer UI taxes if they layoff too many workers
  • Ease UI restrictions which are a part of federal law

The Families-First Coronavirus Response Act enables states to get access to interest-free advances to meet unemployment-related needs until Dec 31, 2020.

The law also anticipates that the Extended Benefits program will be needed with the unemployment rate likely to rise over 10%. Hence funding for Extended

Benefits will totally be federal whereas 50% of funding would come from states at other times.

States which offer work-sharing programs can get assistance from the Secretary of Labor. This enables workers to get reduced pay instead of layoff. Employers opting for this plan get some incentives and assistance.

What Should You Do To Get Unemployment Compensation?

You can read all about how to collect unemployment benefits if you got laid off due to the Coronavirus pandemic here.

Most states have waived the waiting period, work search requirements and allowed part-time workers and the self-employed to file for unemployment benefits. If eligible you will receive your Determination Letter.

The new law does not require claimants to do anything outside of the ordinary application process to claim unemployment insurance benefits. 

It is best to file claims online as most states have a shortage of staff across unemployment offices due to the massive surge in UI applications. There will be delays if you try phone filing or in-person visits.

What Can A Worker Expect From The Families First Coronavirus Response Act?

  • Governments and private businesses with fewer than 500 employees have to provide up to two weeks of paid sick leave at the regular wage rate if anyone contracts COVID-19
  • Those employees staying away to care for a sick family member or a child out of school are entitled to the same but at two-thirds of the regular wage rate
  • Sick workers also get an additional 10 weeks off at two-thirds of the regular wage rate
  • Companies with fewer than 50 employees will be exempted from these rules if they risk going out of business due to closure

What Are The Other Helpful Provisions Of This Law?

The fight against the Coronavirus pandemic requires a multi-pronged approach. Hence the Families First Coronavirus Response Act addresses various other requirements.

Healthcare Clauses

  • Health Insurance coverage at no cost to the customer for COVID-19 diagnostic testing under both private plans and Medicaid.
  • States can extend Medicaid eligibility to cover uninsured populations.
  • Medicaid will cover beneficiary cost-sharing for healthcare practitioner visits that order the test.
  • Personal Respiratory Protective Devices will be covered as countermeasures against COVID-19
  • Enhanced Medicaid funding
  • National Disaster Medical System will be able to reimburse the cost of diagnostic testing for SARS-Cov19 of insured individuals with a grant of $1bn

Food and Nutrition clauses

  •  $250 million for the Senior Nutrition Program which will supply about 25 million additional home-delivered, pre-packaged meals to low-income seniors.
  • The Emergency Food Assistance Program gets $300 million to buy nutritious food and $100 million to supply and distribute it.
  • Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children gets $500 million so that laid-off low-income pregnant women and mothers and their children get food.
  • Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) of food assistance to households with children who get meals in school and aren’t now due to COVID-19 shutdowns
  • No work requirements for “food stamp” program

What Is the Path Forward for The United States?

The Families First Act is a welcome beginning but will need to be expanded to cover various groups who will be left to fend for themselves. As of now, employers with over 500 employees do not have to provide paid leave. This includes workers in banks, grocery chains, etc. who come into contact with hundreds of people daily.

The vast majority of people will be left without protection from the financial hit of getting laid-off. Many applicants do not qualify for unemployment benefits due to having inadequate hours or wages. Further easing of restrictions is necessary.

Many states had cut unemployment staff and benefits on the back of good economic growth over the past couple of years. Twenty-three states had inadequate unemployment trust funds, though the new act should address this.

The technological capabilities will need to be scaled up largely to deal with the massive surge in UI applications as well as other forms of assistance. With so many people having to say home, there is also a shortage of manpower to provide state essential services. States have plans to employ workers to meet this requirement.

The Coronavirus Response Act has addressed all the different war fronts along which this pandemic will have to be fought with allocations for disaster response, food, Medicaid and veteran care, etc. As the situation evolves the US will have to prepare itself to deal with whatever this new world order will dish out.

The novel coronavirus has posed the US government with a dreadful conundrum- save the economy or save lives? It’s a chicken and egg situation. The social distancing and the resultant economic slowdown, spiking unemployment and poverty will endanger people.  Without these measures, lives will be lost due to disease and co-morbidities. This begs the question: how is the US equipped to deal with a pandemic breakout? Is there coronavirus preparedness?

The government has made the obvious choice to save lives on priority. A researched model from Imperial College London is the basis of this decision. It suggests that without stringent measures COVID-19 can potentially kill 2.2 mn Americans.

Experts from UCLA estimate that the tightening government restrictions will cause 2 mn job losses and raise the national unemployment rate to more than 5%. This is if social distancing measures are not needed well into the year. 

Emerging Unemployment Crisis In The United States: What Coronavirus Is Doing To The US Economy

The world remembers the 2008 Global Financial Crisis that began in the United States. That crisis began with the banking sector due to bad mortgages. The Coronavirus effects on the economic slowdown are from many economic sectors simultaneously, like travel, tourism, restaurants, movie theatres etc. shutting down. 

Here are some of the sectors shutting down and the ripple effects they will have across the economy:

  • Detroit automakers are temporarily shuttering production to try to contain the spread of coronavirus. Millions of workers and parts suppliers not to mention sales professionals will be affected.
  • New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut are temporarily closing all indoor shopping malls, amusement parks, and bowling alleys. These entertainment centers employ thousands of employees earning hourly wages.
  • The capital markets are in jeopardy with fluctuations in all the indices. The Federal Reserve has slashed interest rates to zero.
  • Many eateries and restaurants have been forced to shut down.
  • The real estate sector is seeing trickle-down effects as people save funds for emergencies (and buying houses is not one). Similarly, the tech devices companies will also see effects soon.
  • Delayed shipments from China jeopardize many consumer goods companies.
  • By contrast, supermarkets and food processing industries might see a brief revenue spike. It is however unlikely to last as people will stop having cash to spend over time.

There has been a huge jump in the number of claims filed for unemployment insurance, reflecting the increasing number of layoffs. 

  • Rhode Island alone has 17,779 claims for unemployment insurance over just 8 days.
  • Oregon has had a jump from 800 on March 16 to nearly 19000 on March 18.
  • Texas saw more than 16,000 people filing for unemployment insurance between March 10 and 16.
  • Hawaii’s state labor department website crashed due to over 3000 claims being filed on a single day, March 18.
  • 30,000+ claims have been filed in Connecticut since 13th March.

Typically the number of claims filed on an average in a week number about 4000 in normal times.

The full extent of the pandemic is yet to make itself clear.

Preparedness Of The States To Meet The Financial Requirements Of UI

An important concern is whether the states have adequate funds to pay out the unemployment insurance benefits. This is reflected in the solvency of the states’ trust funds. What does this mean?

Solvency refers to the ability of an entity, the State Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund in this case, to meet its long-term financial liabilities. To understand whether the states’ funds are solvent, we look not at the dollar amount but at the ratio of the fund balance to the wages paid out that year, called Reserve Ratio.

Consider this graph sourced from the US Department Of Labor which ranks the states on the State Trust Fund Solvency. It is worrisome to see States like California, Texas and New York in the red. They host some of the largest employers.

Only 31 out of the 50 states have funds that are at or above the recommended amounts for solvency. One reason why so many states are underprepared may be that there are no federal requirements for any minimum amount of funds that should be maintained in a state’s trust fund.

states fund solvency

If states use up all of their funds on UI payments, they can pay out pending claims by borrowing from the Federal government through the Title XII program. They will have to pay interest on these borrowings, which they may finance through private sector borrowing instruments or through tax revenue deductions by the Treasury Department.

The aid package being planned will not be meant to finance UI alone. If the global production stoppages continue for months, it is unclear how unemployment insurance payments will be extended beyond the usual 26 week period. Not all states will qualify for the extension of an additional 26 weeks.

Can The Proposed Aid Package Spur Coronavirus Preparedness?

Lawmakers are weighing a $1 trillion assistance package to small businesses, to keep them afloat during the coronavirus outbreak. The aid will likely have preconditions as measures to force bailed out companies to keep workers on their payrolls. These may include limits on executive compensation, and prohibitions on stock buybacks which have risen to unprecedented levels in recent times.

Many states have submitted requests to the U.S. Small Business Administration for the extension of SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans to small businesses. They are facing the brunt of the slowdown.

The President has signed into legislation The Families First Coronavirus Response Act

which gives $1 billion to the states so they can meet the administrative costs of processing unemployment insurance. This will briefly rescue those 23 states with very low UI funds even before COVID-19 hit. Read all about the new law here.

Are You Eligible For UI Benefits If You Lost Your Job Due To Coronavirus?

To help the newly unemployed, the U.S. Department Of Labor has announced unemployment benefits to those who lost their jobs temporarily. However, having understood the state of emergency, the authorities have eased the eligibility criteria. Know the updated rules of UI benefits before filing a claim. 

Most states have passed executive orders exempting people from the work search requirements. The waiting period of a week to receive the first payment has also been waived. Even part-timers and the self-employed are now eligible, as are those forced to remain away from work due to illness or caregiving duties.

Despite the eased rules, those who haven’t met the minimum number of hours of work, or those who haven’t worked in a specific state long enough may find their application rejected. Those ineligible for UI but eligible for Disability Insurance or Family Leave should certainly apply for those.

What Is The Likely Future And How Much Coronavirus Preparedness Do We Need?

More easing of UI norms will be needed along with longer payment periods to support the larger numbers of unemployed citizens.

So far, the government safety net to help the unemployed does not appear sufficient to handle the surge in the claim numbers. Labor websites have been crashing across the states and phone lines have been jammed. The departments find themselves woefully understaffed as some states have recalled retirees and temporarily hired staffers to handle the new claims.

Many employees are under quarantine leading to calls going unanswered.

The Families First Coronavirus response Act is a good start but a more robust response is needed for coronavirus preparedness. It only provides relief to employers with less than 500 employees, and their employees, not addressing bigger employers or groups like students and gig workers who move around a lot.

Those facing the heat of the Coronavirus outbreak with respect to job losses can now breathe easier since several states across the US are expanding unemployment insurance eligibility to deal with the fallout. We will tell you all about how you can collect unemployment benefits if Coronavirus-induced slowdown has gotten you laid off. Remember that you must file claims for UI benefits immediately upon being separated from work.

Claiming Unemployment Insurance 

The American Unemployment Insurance Program is meant to help tide you over a no-fault layoff, while you look for new employment. Taxes paid by your former employers finance the program. The present slowdown is an instance of the very reason for the institution of UI, to sustain consumer demand and help revive the economy.

Upon successful processing of your unemployment insurance application, you receive a weekly benefit, beginning two weeks later (now one week). The weekly benefit amount and the maximum amount you can get are calculated based on the wages earned by you during the base period, over the previous year. The Base period is the period of employment before the job loss.

Usually, Unemployment Insurance is provided by the states for 26 weeks from the date of effective application. In states where the unemployment situation has worsened enormously, there is a permanent Extended Benefits (EB) program, which gives an additional 13 or 20 weeks of compensation to jobless workers after their regular benefits are exhausted.

When Can You Claim Unemployment Benefits

Different states have slightly different eligibility criteria. But, the essential condition to be satisfied for unemployment insurance eligibility is that you have lost your job DUE TO NO FAULT OF YOUR OWN. Those who quit their jobs are not eligible unless there were extenuating circumstances (determined with a hearing) and all efforts made to resolve the same.

Second, you have to satisfy monetary eligibility requirements. You should have earned a threshold amount during the base period, which differs slightly across states.

Third, you must maintain your eligibility by fulfilling the following conditions:

  • Be physically able to work throughout the benefit week period
  • Be available to work.
  • Be ready to accept the work offered to you
  • Be actively seeking job opportunities

Some of these criteria have been modified to help people affected by the Coronavirus outbreak. One can file for Extended Benefits once the regular benefits run out.

What Are The Changes To Unemployment Compensation Rules

Unemployment Insurance claims can now be filed if:

  • An employer is forced to stop operations temporarily because a worker becomes sick and thus other workers need to be isolated or quarantined
  • An employer is forced to shut down offices temporarily due non-availability of work to assign. 
  • Working hours are reduced due to business slowdown or loss of production, resulting in a wage drop.
  • A firm goes out of business due to the coronavirus disease.

Individuals may be eligible for unemployment benefits provided they meet the monetary criteria and weekly eligibility criteria. Most state governors have made the following relaxations:

  • Workers who have a return date to their employment, within eight weeks of the temporary layoff, are exempted from the active search for new job opportunities. This is referred to as standby.
  • Waiving of the requirement of being able to and available for work for claimants affected by the Coronavirus.
  • Under normal circumstances, part-time employment is not considered for UI eligibility, but now standby is available to part-timers. You should have worked 680 hours at least in your base year, and you should have a date of an anticipated return to employment.
  • Waiving of the one-week waiting period post-acceptance of UI application as well as training requirements. 
  • UI filing deadlines are being extended for employers and workers. As UI works on a weekly cycle, make sure you file it within the week preceding the one from when you will start getting the payments.

Unemployment insurance coronavirus

Some states like Mississippi are yet to do so.

What To Do If You Fall Ill Or Have To Provide Care

As COVID-19 is now a national emergency, some rules have been put in place to help those contracting it. All states have issued clarifications about claiming Unemployment Insurance

If you have contracted COVID-19 and are too sick to work or be available for work, you won’t be eligible for Unemployment Insurance. Still, you may avail Paid Family & Medical Leave or Disability Insurance (DI). The waiting period has been waived or them all.

You can claim UI once you have recovered and can work.

You cannot claim UI benefits if you refuse the remote work option provided by the employer. It is only meant for those who are without pay due to layoffs. If you get paid leave, you will not be eligible for UI benefits.

If a health professional has asked you to self-quarantine due to Coronavirus exposure and your employer has refused paid sick leave, you may be eligible for Unemployment Insurance. If you are a caregiver for a family member with the condition and are unable to work, you can avail Paid Family Leave (PFL). You won’t receive Paid Leave and UI together, however.

How To File Claim For Unemployment Insurance If Coronavirus Has Caused A Job Loss

To apply for Unemployment Insurance if Coronavirus outbreak has caused you a job loss, you can visit your state’s Labor Department website or call the authorized Claims Center. In some states, the point of contact is the American Jobs Center. Online applications can be submitted at any time, with no waiting time.

You will need to have the following information ready to submit:

  1. Social security number
  2. Name, Birthdate and Contact Information
  3. Names, dates worked for, and mailing addresses of employers you worked for over your base period or 18 months. 
  4. Citizen status /work Authorization
  5. Account or Routing Numbers of your bank or union for Direct Deposit
  6. SF-8 for federal employees
  7. DD-214 form for ex-military people
  8. Name and number of the union for those who find work as part of one

You will then receive an Unemployment Claim Determination Letter that will tell you if your application has been accepted and your weekly benefit amount. After you apply for unemployment benefits, submit a weekly claim for every week you require benefits. Your weekly claim only covers the prior week. If you fail to do so, you will stop receiving benefits.

Job search requirements will be exempted during the Coronavirus pandemic. However, you will have to provide proof of a quarantine request from a healthcare practitioner. Verification of illness and shutdowns may be conducted by contacting your employers.

How COVID-19 Is Threatening Your Job

The COVID 19 outbreak has caused a lot of panics as the disease has been spreading rapidly with nearly 4000 infected cases and over a dozen deaths, statistics spiking through the day. As the disease spreads via droplet infection and is highly contagious, the US has directed firms to shut down and provide remote work wherever applicable and possible. However, several industries have been facing losses and have resorted to laying off workers, just over the last week. 

Sectors like Food and Beverages, Travel and Tourism, Event Management depend on regular footfall for their sustenance and are the first ones forced to lay employees off. Airlines, hotels, etc. are likely to be the worst affected as flights and events like festivals are being canceled. Gig workers, entry-level employees, and casual workers are at the greatest risk. With many companies placing hiring freezes and other moving interviews online, finding a new job will prove tremendously difficult.

Several small businesses based on services and niche commodities are being hit by the trickle-down effect of job losses, as people can no longer afford to buy from them. The stock market has also been on a steady downslide, reflecting the increased threat to jobs in the finance sector.

Jobs involving global supply chains have been among the first to be affected. Truckers, wholesalers and warehouse workers, etc. are receiving diminished to no pay as exports globally are no longer coming, and some ships have been quarantined. Due to the large scale industrial slowdown in China, supply chains based there are seeing downstream effects in the US.

The full impact is yet to be understood. Coming on the back of strong job growth in the preceding months, these hits are affecting morale. It is vital to claim any assistance that you are eligible for at this time, especially if you don’t have savings enough to tide over 3 months of living expenses. Keep up with the guidelines released by your state to claim unemployment insurance if Coronavirus threatens your job security.

 

If you are going through a rough patch, staring unemployment in the face, then Valentine’s day can seem like an annoying occasion. However, there is a silver lining. Some of these Valentine’s day jobs are not as available during the rest of the year. This gives an excellent chance to those looking to make a few extra bucks.

The 14th of February has become heavily commercialized over the years as corporates have seized the chance to get Americans to spend. On a positive note, the increased demand creates jobs in various sectors from the greeting card industry to hospitality. From a humanitarian perspective, you also get the chance to bring some joy into the lives of the young and the old.

Florist

The flower business is the perfect chance to make money during the season of love. Flower sales peak up during Valentine’s week. A good florist can help customers choose flowers as per their symbolic meaning. Flower arrangement is a valuable skill that an artistically inclined person can easily pick up. 

Baby Sitter

Being a baby sitter is a lucrative job this Valentine’s Day. Couples want to go out on romantic dates and don’t mind spending more bucks than usual on childcare. This Valentine’s day job is a golden chance for you to cash in.

Limousine Driver

A good number of Valentine’s day plans involve renting out limousines. Thus, there would be a situation of driver-shortage that you can take advantage of. Safely taking intoxicated couples through their dates and navigating the traffic of the night involves a good level of driving skill- making this a well-paying job.

Chocolatier

This is an excellent opportunity for you to show off sweet-making skills if making chocolates is your passion. Chocolate sales spike up on Valentine’s Day as they are the most popular gifting option. Clients make a beeline for niche chocolatiers rather than big-name brands to add a personal touch.

 

Musicians  

Valentine’s day brings a plethora of opportunities for those with musical skills. Whether you are a soloist or a member of a struggling band, the sheer number of events looking to hire musicians guarantees gigs. Song Writers can find freelance opportunities as most people can’t write lyrics but want special songs tailored to their partners. 

Greeting Card Writer 

There are several freelance opportunities for content writers during Valentine’s week as the greeting card industry looks to hire. Powerful words can capture someone’s heart, and drive up sales. If you can write well, you will be paid well. All you need is a laptop and a working internet connection.

Park Keeper 

Valentine’s Day sees a surge in the number of proposals. The favored destination for proposing happens to be parks. Here’s where the role of a park keeper comes in. All you need to do is maintain the park and earn a steady buck. 

MatchMaker

This is a pretty lucrative job throughout the year, not just Valentine’s Day. But there is no doubt that more people require help finding partners around Valentine’s season. With a multitude of dating apps and sites, there are more matchmaking jobs than ever. If you are a compassionate person with good people skills, consider looking for these jobs or you can even look to starting your own venture. 

Let’s Spread Love This Season!

Whether you are in between jobs or want to earn some extra money to treat your partner to something special, Valentine’s Day jobs are what you need. If all you can find are part-time positions, be sure to file your unemployment claims on time. Celebrate your relationship with your loved ones as you support each other through these tough phases.

  

https://fileunemployment.org