The Unemployment Issue


Image by Rachel DePompa

Since the start of the Covid-19 lockdown, millions of people in the United States have lost their jobs, pay, health care, or the small business they started, even though it is not their fault. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the unemployment rate got up to 24.4% in spring 2020. Now, 50% of those who have lost their jobs say that they are still unemployed, 33% have returned to their old jobs, and 15% say they have a different job now then their pre-covid job.

The Trump administration was pursuing economic policies that benefited wealth over work and corporations over working families. President Biden wants that to change. He says “this is no time to just build back to the way things were before, with the old economy’s structural weaknesses and inequalities still in place.” Too many families are struggling to make ends meet and too many parents are worried about the economic future for their children. 

To get to know what it is like for these people, this interview will help you get a better perspective. NPR’s Mary Loiuse talks with three people who lost their jobs during the lockdown. They talk about being laid off, applying for unemployment and surviving the pandemic.

The first person interviewed, Kelly Rashad said after she got laid off “my HR team was really trying to help us with applying for unemployment, things like that. But there were just so many people that everyone was so overwhelmed.” This tells us that the amount of people that were in need of help and were stressed or overwhelmed.

Zach Neville, the second person interviewed said that he had a lot of stress at first but now is getting better. He said “I got to say I’m thankful that I’ve – you know, I was able to have a little bit of savings – not a ton. But that’s mostly what I’ve been living off of here in I guess what’s been a couple months now.” He also said that everything happened so quickly and went into “problem solving mode.” 

Ericka Dobrowski said that she is barely able to pay the rent, so she moved from her studio apartment to a three bedroom apartment with roommates. The unemployment and state benefits have helped her out a lot, but is scared that she will use up all that money before she finds another job. She also said  “I want to feel hopeful, but at the same time, I feel a little bit discouraged, too. You know, it’s – I’m on the fence, I feel like.”

Based on what these people have said, it is safe to say that this is very overwhelming and stressful for these people. Since they do not have a job, they have to get money in other ways. Now, in 2021 the unemployment rate went down to about 6%. Before Covid-19, the unemployment rate was at 3.5% so we have made a lot of progress. Since the vaccine is out, we might be able to go back to normal very soon and this will no longer be such a big issue.