Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Our Bumbling Response to the Unemployment Crisis

How many people in our country can financially afford to go 5+ weeks without a paycheck?

A study in 2017 said 78% of our country lives paycheck to paycheck. Another study showed that 57% of people have less than $1,000 to their name.

So why are we not addressing just how difficult it is now to get approved for unemployment benefits? If 78% of our country can't afford to miss even one paycheck, why are we not pouring all our resources into making it as easy as possible to transition from regular employment to unemployment benefits? 

I lost my job due to COVID on June 25th. I received my last paycheck immediately after that and have not received a dime since then. Yet when I applied for unemployment, my claim was rejected. No reason was given - it just simply stated that I was ineligible.

After another 30 minutes circling bad links and misinformation, I managed to appeal the decision, but have received no response. I have been calling the Texas Workforce Commission multiple times a day and only get an automated message that no one is available to take my call. So what am I supposed to do? What happens if I am one of those Americans who can't put food on the table or pay my rent if I go more than two weeks without a paycheck?

I’m one of the lucky ones. I’m a saver (my ex-girlfriend would even go so far as to say that I'm cheap) and was financially prepared for this (for the time being at least). But it doesn’t change the fact that I am owed that unemployment pay. I shouldn’t HAVE to dig into my savings, when I am eligible for unemployment. How many people out there were already broke or close to it when they lost their job, and have now gone weeks without that regular paycheck they were used to?

This is absolutely unacceptable. We have politicians arguing about stimulus money and the extra $600/week, but what good does that do if you can’t get a response to your request for unemployment in the first place? What good is any of this if you have no recourse to challenge a unilateral decision when it’s made by some algorithm, or even by a person who knows nothing about the facts of my situation?

This is the real crisis in America - not the Coronavirus itself, but the fallout caused by our country going into lockdown in an attempt to crash our economy.

Every state needs to hire as many people as it takes to process the influx of unemployment claims. Every person who is already stressed out about losing their job, needs to be able to get a real person on the phone to answer their questions. This will be a drop in the bucket compared to all the stimulus money and bailout money for corporations and small businesses. So what do we need to do to make it happen?

This is unreal.

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