First, to the numbers cited: About 50 million unemployment claims have been filed so far during the pandemic. A bit over half of them have been paid to at least some extent, and it can take literally months for a new claim to work through the still thoroughly overwhelmed state systems. That doesn’t mean the recipients are then getting enough cash to stabilize themselves, especially after going heavily into debt waiting for that help to arrive.
For those whose claims have still not been processed, the situation is getting more desperate with each passing week. And even getting yourself into the system to begin with may require, notes the Post, waiting outside a state office for up to eight hours, or camping out overnight.
Some napkin math can quickly explain why those waits are what they are: The population of the United States in total is about 330 million, which would suggest that one out of every seven Americans has now filed an unemployment claim. None of these offices were built to handle one out of every seven people in the country all needing assistance in the span of a few months.
Right, then. So now what? On economic issues, many states seem collectively to be in roughly the same place as they are on mask orders, shelter-in-place orders, and other pandemic responses. The bare minimum is done, and the bare minimum is done only after weeks of it being obvious that it was urgently, urgently needed. Republican-led governments in states like Texas and Florida have resisted lifesaving measures every step of the way, begrudgingly making changes only after the charts show that disaster has already arrived; similarly, the nation still seems to be slow-walking its way to the realization that escalating mass unemployment is going to lead to widespread poverty … real soon now.
Meanwhile, the negotiations for “Phase 4” of federal pandemic relief are underway. According to the resident White House depression-creator, they would prefer it revolve around tax cuts, unemployment cuts, and “bonuses” for returning to work during the pandemic.
Yeah. It’s depressing.