Almost 10% of America's total workforce is now unemployed since coronavirus slammed the economy as confirmed cases in the United States continues to rise. At present, US is the most worst-hit country due to coronavirus as positive cases have crossed 450,000-mark while over 16,000 people have died so far. Amid all this, a major crisis is that is awaiting the citizens of the US is jobless as already near 17 million Americans have sought unemployment benefits in the past three weeks — a record high, by far — as millions of people appear to be falling through the cracks. They can’t get through jammed phone systems or finish their applications on overloaded websites. Or they’re confused about whether or how to apply.
And now there is a whole new category of people — gig workers, independent contractors and self-employed people like Cruse. The federal government’s $2.2 trillion economic relief package for the first time extended unemployment aid to cover those workers when they lose their jobs. Yet most states have yet to update their systems to process these applications. The struggles at U.S. unemployment systems run by the states contrasts with the smoother and more robust protections that many European governments provide for millions who have been thrown out of work as a result of the viral outbreak. In France, for example, 5.8 million people — about a quarter of the private-sector workforce — are now on a “partial unemployment” plan: With the government’s help, they receive part of their wages while temporarily laid off or while working shorter hours.
Larisa Ignatovich, who works as a household helper for families around Paris, is among them. French confinement measures mean she can leave only to buy groceries or for medical emergencies. When the confinement rules were imposed in March, her husband’s construction work dried up, and she could no longer work. Ignatovich feared they would lack money for food and rent. But then the government announced special programs to help prevent virus-related layoffs. Under the plan, Ignatovich’s employers continue to pay her, and the government reimburses the employer 80% of the sum.
Many European governments seek to subsidize wages in downturns so that workers can remain attached to their employers. By contrast, the U.S. approach typically is to provide support to those who’ve lost jobs. But unemployment aid doesn’t cover everyone. It can be limited to six months or less.
(With inputs from AP)