SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:
A $600 a week federal advantage for unemployed individuals is set to disappear at the end of this month, and it’s not clear that Congress has the political will to pass an extension. On the other hand, in lots of states, new outbreaks are requiring economies to shut back down. And the joblessness rate is now greater than at any time during the Great Economic downturn. So we wished to speak to a few of the people who’ve lost their jobs in this pandemic. I’m joined now by Alicia Gonzales, who worked at a Chick-fil-A on a college campus in Tempe, Ariz.
ALICIA GONZALES: Hi. MCCAMMON: And Kim Robinson lives in New Orleans. She was utilized by a staffing company and did support services for companies like Shell.
Thanks for being here, Kim.
KIM ROBINSON: Thank you. Hey there. How are you guys doing?
MCCAMMON: And Emily Guill was working at a hotel in Portland, Ore.
Emily. EMILY GUILL: Hi. MCCAMMON: You have actually all run out work for numerous months now. And so I wish to begin with how you’re each managing right now. Let’s start with you, Alicia. How have you been surviving the last few months?
GONZALES: The last few months, I have actually been getting by – is my PUA, which is the unemployment – the pandemic one. And I’ve been practically counting on that. We have actually been needing to cut some things out.
MCCAMMON: Can you give me some examples? Would you mind?
GONZALES: For one, my partner’s medication. He ended up getting sick in the middle of all of this. And his medicine was actually expensive, so we had to suffice, you know, suffice in half so we might manage it. Often his leg will get actually huge from his embolism. It’s kind of scary.
MCCAMMON: And, Emily, what about you? How have you been getting by?
GUILL: Well, the unemployment benefit that I’m getting, including the extra $600 a week, does pay for my basic expenses. However while I was waiting for the unemployment money to start – due to the fact that it takes a while for you to begin receiving payments – I did handle to spend most of my savings. So as soon as the $600 a week – the additional benefit – ends, I have no safeguard. And I do not understand how I’ll be able to pay my expenses.
MCCAMMON: Exist resources you’ve been exploring, individuals you’ve been asking for aid? Do you have a fallback today?
GUILL: I can ask my family. They will be able to assist me a little bit, however they can’t pay all of my regular monthly costs. And I do think that’s a huge ask to ask to support me. And I do not actually have much of a plan B at this moment. I’m worried about entering into deep financial obligation and destroying my credit. I’m worried about not being able to pay my rent and having – maybe dealing with eviction or breaking my lease, which comes with its own financial penalties. I have actually thought about selling my vehicle, which is a major expenditure. However then I’m concerned that if I get rid of my automobile, what am I going to do if I can’t reside in my home any longer? So it’s a lot of quite horrible alternatives, I believe.
MCCAMMON: And, Kim, how about you?
ROBINSON: Similar To Emily, I receive the maximum employment in Louisiana, which is 247 plus the pandemic, which is 600. That provides me approximately about 847 a week in Louisiana. I was able to pay some of my expenses. I live with my child. And like Emily, I do not actually have a strategy B. I’ve been on my task for a long time. And with the 600 ending, we still have bills – light, water, gas, lease needs to be paid.
MCCAMMON: A lot of states and cities are stopping briefly expulsions – or at least they were in the early days of the pandemic – but some of those moratoriums are going away, including in Arizona, where Alicia lives. How concerned are each of you about your real estate in specific?
GONZALES: I deal with my grandmother. And her home is – she paid off her house, however it’s simply keeping everything on pretty much. I have four kids. And, you know, my grandma, I take care of my granny. She had cancer. She’s 84. And it type of concerns me due to the fact that I’m normally the one that will help her. Now I’m stuck. Now we’re just, you understand, debating on what we’re going to pay and what we’re going to – what we can afford to owe later.
MCCAMMON: And, Emily, you said – you pointed out keeping your vehicle in case you were to lose your housing. I indicate, just how much of a danger does that seem like?
GUILL: I truthfully – I could not tell you. At the start, our proprietors – I think it was at the end of March – our property manager sent out a letter to everyone stating that if we were having financial difficulties and were unable to pay our full lease amount, that we could connect to them and they would take a portion. And after that the rest of it would just be computed up, and after that we would owe it as back rent. I do not know how I would have the ability to settle countless dollars of back rent when I still am not working. The hotel where I was working has informed me that they will not be able to rehire me up until next spring, if at all. And there are no other jobs actually to get. I’ve looked. Either I’m underqualified or method overqualified for everything out there. Or it’s part-time, which isn’t going to pay the bills and disqualifies me from joblessness. So it’s all bad.
ROBINSON: It really is since even with myself originating from the industry that I originate from, you understand, all the tasks moving on is remote. Everyone can’t work from home. That will take months to retrain, even with myself being computer savvy or whatever. You would need to discover, you know, the industry.
MCCAMMON: Yeah. Alicia, I heard you there. I imply, how does – how has your experience been trying to find work today?
GONZALES: It’s still difficult. It’s actually tough ’cause then I consider – I understand I need to get out there and find a task. But then it resembles, you step back and attempt to think, like, is it worth going back out there? Due to the fact that this is such a hot spot. It – you know, we’re the worst for the COVID. So it’s sort of scary to even, you understand, consider going back. But it’s like, I understand I require to because, like I have no other option.
MCCAMMON: Emily, as you think of – as you look for tasks – and I understand you have not had a great deal of luck with that yet – but as you look for tasks, how much are you stressing over not just the monetary side of this but the health side?
GUILL: Oh, that’s probably a bigger concern for me than the financial side of things. Honestly, if I do return to some sort of a job, I would not get approved for my medical insurance that I’m getting now. So then I’m going to be putting myself at danger, and then I do not have medical insurance anymore. And after that if I do get ill, I can’t work and I don’t have health insurance. So it simply does not make any sense.
MCCAMMON: Prior to I let you all go, I just want to ask, what do you want Congress understood about the circumstance you remain in today?
GONZALES: That it’s genuine.
ROBINSON: That they must listen to the common people. I desire Congress to know that they’re dealing with real people out here, real humans. The pandemic insurance coverage – that’s one, naturally, since they might have at least get this under wraps. They could have at least extended that up until December.
GUILL: And they have actually had the opportunity to do so.
ROBINSON: Yes, they have.
GUILL: This deadline of July is not new. When they initially passed the CARES Act, that was to go till July. And the thought there was that we would have had this pandemic under control by now, like a number of the countries in the rest of the world have done. They’re all back to work. They’re playing baseball. They’re hanging out and having celebrations. On the other hand, we’re stuck in our houses, no end in sight. And now there are countless us that are still unemployed, can not go back to work despite the fact that we would all enjoy to be able to go back to work and continue to make a living and pay our bills, see our pals. And they’re going to start evicting individuals. And individuals can’t pay for food. They’re waiting in line at food banks. And it’s simply very aggravating.
ROBINSON: It is. And I operate at a food bank – not work, volunteer in some cases because I just have nothing to do, Emily. In some cases – as soon as a week, I pass out at the food – it boggles the mind the people that come through there, just goes to show you people need. This is the 4th month, and individuals still are at pantries. It boggles the mind, unbelievable.
MCCAMMON: That’s Kim Robinson in Louisiana, Emily Guill in Oregon and Alicia Gonzales in Arizona. Thank you all a lot for talking with us.
ROBINSON: Thank you.
GONZALES: Thank you.
GUILL: Thank you. Transcript supplied by NPR, Copyright NPR.Source: delawarepublic.org