The push to get businesses back open comes as public-health experts have warned social distancing restrictions should not be lifted until the numbers of new infections have slowed or stopped and there is widespread immunity.
Jobs & Unemployment
We spoke to frontline experts from around the globe and have compiled a list of recommendations for reopening U.S. states. Their consensus? It’s tough to find policies that simultaneously save lives and livelihoods.
The state’s benefit checks of $275 a week remain among the stingiest in the nation. Separately, 23,801 checks have gone out to people who have qualified for federal money under a new federal stimulus law. The federal payments go up to $600 a week.
Congress gave the IRS the job of sending out coronavirus rescue checks. But the underfunded agency is struggling, while for-profit companies like Intuit have started circling, hoping to convert Americans in need into paying customers.
In Florida, the last four weeks of claims totals 652,000 which, combined with 291,000 unemployed Floridians before the crisis–a five-decade low–approaches 1 million unemployed, placing the state’s current unemployment rate at around 9 percent and doubling Flagler’s unemployment rolls, past 4,000.
Initial unemployment claims totaled 6.6 million for the week ending April 4 across the nation, and 169,885 in Florida. In the last three weeks, initial claims have totaled 16.8 million in a labor force of 163 million. That equates to an unemployment rate of 10.3 percent, a rate never reached during the Great Recession.
Hundreds of call center operators are being rushed through training, paper applications are being made available and dozens of computer servers were brought from Orlando over the weekend to boost the online system’s capacity.
The longest economic expansion on record, a 113-month streak that netted 22 million jobs between October 2010 and February 2020, is over. The economy shed 701,000 jobs in March and the number of unemployed persons grew by 1.4 million.
The only option to buy time and minimize coronavirus deaths until universal testing is available is to enforce a lock-down, without which voluntary half-measures will only prolong harm to the economy and increase the death toll.
Union representatives and workers warned of a “massive wave of unemployment” hitting the state as they called on Gov. Ron DeSantis to expand jobless benefits.