Things That Matter

Are You One Of The Millions Of Americans That’s Lost A Job? Here’s Everything You Need To Know About Unemployment Benefits

The Coronavirus pandemic has decimated economies around the world, but the U.S. in particular has been hit very hard. The country has seen more than 35 million people apply for jobless benefits since the crisis began – pushing unemployment figures to record-setting levels.

As of late April, the U.S. unemployment rate was nearing 15% – the highest since the Great Depression during the 1930s – after being at record lows through February.

If you’re lucky enough to still have your job, you likely know someone who doesn’t. And as state and federal governments try and put together bills aimed at supporting out of work Americans, here’s everything you need to know about the crisis and how you can get help.

The U.S. economy has shed more than 10% of its workforce in just two short months.

More than 33 million jobless Americans have now made unemployment claims in the past seven weeks. These are record-breaking figures that show just how fragile the U.S. economy is. And the figures are in stark contrast to what they were just before the pandemic began.

In March, the official unemployment rate in the was 4.4%, close to a 50-year low, but economists predict it could now be as high as 20%, a level unseen since the Great Depression.

The pace of layoffs has overwhelmed state unemployment systems across the country. Over a million people in North Carolina have now made unemployment insurance benefit claims, equivalent to 20% of the state’s workforce. Some 4 million have applied in California and the state’s jobless benefits fund is “very close” to running out, Governor Gavin Newsom said this week.

Some of the worst hit sectors include industries that employ people of color at much higher rates.

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Black and Hispanic workers are bearing the brunt of the economic crisis because they are overrepresented in industries that were hit first by social distancing mandates and stay-at-home orders, economists say. These include leisure and hospitality, such as hotels and restaurants; retail; and construction, where Latino men make up more than a quarter of workers.

According to a recent report by UnidosUS, Latinos are 17.6% of the total U.S. workforce, but they make up large segments of so-called essential workers, including 54% of agricultural workers; 38.8% of food manufacturing workers; 29% of medical assistants; 20.5% of grocery store workers; and 18.8% of transportation and utility workers.

Even more serious, Blacks and Hispanics are also dying of covid-19 at higher rates than whites, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

In fact, Latinos now have the highest rate of unemployment in the country.

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At 18%, Latinos have the highest unemployment rate in the U.S, while the jobless rate for workers nationwide stands at 14.7%.

“This devastating economic data affirms that Hispanic and African American communities have been disproportionately impacted during this pandemic,” said Sindy Benavides, CEO of League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), adding that “minority-owned small-businesses have been shut out of [Paycheck Protection Program] loans and unable to keep workers on payroll.”

But governments are trying to provide support to the jobless – here’s what you need to know.

For most workers who have been laid off as a result of the pandemic, the first line of defense is to file an unemployment claim. Usually, you’ll be entitled to a percentage of your regular pay. In addition, the CARES Act – passed by Congress in March – will supplement your unemployment benefits by up to $600 per week.

Benefits.gov provides a comprehensive unemployment assistance page in both English and Spanish to help laid-off workers identify unemployment resources in their state.

It’s important to note that for Dreamers and other undocumented workers, they’re mostly left out of the above programs. And most were also denied the one-time stimulus checks. However, there are many resources at Informed Immigrant for refugees and undocumented workers, such as cash assistance and grant programs, rent relief, food banks, medical assistance, and support with renewing DACA status or other legal aid.

Even if you’re part of the gig economy – or self-employed – you could be eligible for unemployment benefits.

It’s also worth noting that thanks to the pandemic, even if you are a gig worker or self-employed, you’re likely eligible for federal jobless benefits – even if your state doesn’t provide them. The federal CARES Act promises unemployment benefits for the first time to gig workers and the self-employed.

Latino Homes Are Experiencing The Highest Rate Of The Worst COVID-19 Symptoms

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Latino Homes Are Experiencing The Highest Rate Of The Worst COVID-19 Symptoms

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COVID-19 is still a threat to the U.S. The country is experiencing a sudden spike two weeks after Americans defied social distancing rules and gathered in mass for Memorial Day. Latino households are experiencing a higher number of cases with severe symptoms and the rising cases are troubling the community.

Latino households are experiencing some of the worst COVID-19 cases.

A new analysis from USA Today found that Latino households are experiencing severe COVID-19 symptoms at higher rates. According to a study of more than 1.6 million people, Latinos, by and large, said they have experienced the symptoms tied to COVID-19. These symptoms include difficulty breathing, loss of taste, and coughing.

“Data is now emerging that matches the reality that we’re seeing,” Clarissa Martínez de Castro, deputy vice president of UnidosUS, told USA Today. “There are lots of factors at play, but among the biggest is the overrepresentation of Latinos in front-line jobs that don’t allow working from home.”

This a trend that health experts have seen within Latino communities in major cities.

Latino and Black communities have been devastated by COVID-19. The communities have been disproportionately affected by the virus with death rates higher than the population statistics in various states. Fears of discrimination and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrests have prevented Latinos from seeking medical care long before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Public charge was just the latest thing,” Dr. Daniel Correa, a neurologist at Montefiore Medical Center, told NBC News. “There was already a lot of apprehension in the community before the pandemic. We were seeing concerns regarding public services, and in health care we were already seeing a decrease in public visits.”

These statistics come along the backdrop of Latinos facing the steepest financial and employment impact of any other group.

Latino households have faced the most job losses of any other demographic in the U.S. because of COVID-19. The job losses have compounded problems for the Latino community as DACA recipients and undocumented people are not eligible for federal government aid, despite paying billions in taxes.

According to Unidos US, 5.3 million out of 27.8 million Latinos in the U.S. are out of work giving Latinos the highest unemployment rate. Unemployment within the Latino community is 18.9 percent. The current national unemployment rate is 13.3 after the U.S. added 2.5 million jobs in May as states reopen.

The current job numbers are being celebrated by the Trump administration as a signal that the pandemic economic toll is ending. However, the current unemployment rate is higher than any point since the Great Depression and most jobs added are part-time jobs. The large portion of part-time employment has left some skeptical about the stability of the economic recovery.

READ: Covid-19 Cases Surge In Meat-Processing Plants As COVID-19 Spreads In Rural America

Working From Home Can Impact Your Mental Health, Here’s How To Stay Sane And Healthy

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Working From Home Can Impact Your Mental Health, Here’s How To Stay Sane And Healthy

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A recent survey shows that thirty-five percent of workers who telecommute said their mental health had deteriorated as a result of doing so amid the coronavirus lockdown. As someone who has gone from working in a social, fun-filled, compassionate office space, I can consider myself part of that 35%.

Although working from home (for those privileged enough to do so) is a necessity for our safety and that of the community – it definitely presents some unique challenges.

Yes, the benefits are many: avoiding transit problems and the stress of commuting; sidestepping office politics; adopting a flexible schedule that allows for chores and errands to be incorporated into the work day; more time with family and pets; and a break on keeping up a business wardrobe and other appearance-related expenses.

But there’s a dark side. It’s an arrangement that fosters isolation and disconnection, two conditions that feed the greedy depression monster.

Here are some excellent tips for taking care of your mental health during these unprecedented times.

Break up your workday

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Some common challenges when working from home during the pandemic is the lack of stimulation and connection to people you used to see regularly. This can become a bit confusing, so it’s great to try to break up the schedule.

One of the best tips for working from home that I’ve discovered is breaking up the work day with movement. This can be a quick burst of movement (like jumping jacks, or lifting kettle bells) or some lower impact movement like a walk. I’m also a huge fan of taking a mid-afternoon break (longer than your typical 30-minute lunch break) to go on a long walk or run errands.

Get a routine and stick to it

Routine is essential, and it’s even more important when structure is missing.

Sticking to a routine does not mean that you have to abide by the old standard 9-5 office hours, and only take downtime in the evening. It simply means that you have a system for waking up on time, getting ready, feeling confident and getting your work done in a timely manner. 

When you do this regularly enough, it will feel more natural over time, and you won’t have to think about it so much. For me, this has meant taking my dogs out on a walk to get a coffee in the morning and then coming home and getting to work – it’s like creating my own little commute.

Stay connected

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Remember to keep up with friends and family, even if that can only be done through a Zoom or FaceTime call. Text someone you care about, and when restrictions are lifted in your area, try to make plans as regularly as you feel comfortable.

Connection is key, and it can be challenging when you don’t leave your home for long stretches of time.

It’s also helpful to join platforms of people doing similar work as you and interacting with them throughout the day. Or you can join an online book club or participate in volunteer work – having this sort of obligation will go a long way in helping you show up when you don’t feel great.

Incorporate wellness activities into your day

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One of the biggest perks of working from home is that you get to do things you might not be able to if you’re in an office all day.

I’ve been doing 20 minute walks around my neighborhood while listening to music. This moves the energy in the body and allow us to to have a shift in consciousness, which is so important when you’ve been isolated in front of a computer screen.

Another way to experience new energy in the body is to pause from work, find a comfortable place to sit, and then do deep belly breaths. This involves taking one deep breath in, and then focus on the exhale. You’ll notice your shoulders will relax, and your body will feel lighter.

Learn how to detach

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It’s so important when working from home that you keep your work and personal lives and actual physical areas totally separate. For many, it may not be possible to create an actual separate office space but you can create workspaces outside of your most “lived in” spaces. That’s what matters most.

There is a risk that working hours will get longer if the boundaries between work and personal life become blurred. It is necessary to establish a rigid system in which work can be carried out in a planned manner, such as by setting working hours and the timing of contact with supervisors.

No matter what you do, remember that working from home is yet another “new normal” to get used to — and the sooner you adapt to what makes you most productive, healthy, and mentally well, the better.