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Pandemic Unemployment: What Happens When Benefits Never Arrive?

A person files an application for unemployment benefits on April 16, 2020, in Arlington, Virginia. (Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images)
A person files an application for unemployment benefits on April 16, 2020, in Arlington, Virginia. (Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images)

Six months after the pandemic caused a historic number of Americans to lose their jobs, millions still haven’t gotten their unemployment benefits. We take a look at why.

Guests

Clio Chang, freelance journalist. ( @cliomiso)

Pamela Herd, professor of public policy at Georgetown University. Author of “ Administrative Burden.” ( @pamela_herd)

From The Reading List

New Republic: “ My 98 Days in Unemployment Purgatory” — “When the pandemic hit and millions of people lost their jobs, my beat as a reporter at Vice swiftly changed to covering unemployment.”

Associated Press: “ From a stable job to a tent: A waiter’s homeless struggle” — “Jeff Lello has never been rich, but the 42-year-old could pocket $100 cash most weekend nights at the steakhouse chain where he waited tables. He always had enough money for groceries, his car and the modest Orlando apartment he rented with roommates.”

VICE: “ Where You’re Out of Work Makes All the Difference in the World” — “Jonathan Bowen calls the Oregon unemployment office hundreds of times a day. Or at least he has since March 21, when he first applied online after losing his job as a cook at a small taqueria.”

Columbia Journalism Review: “ COVID relief and the misplaced outrage about Rage” — “Yesterday, NPR, along with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, published a bleak poll on the economic health of the nation since the pandemic began.”

NBC News: “ At risk of losing their home, health, and internet: 12 million Americans still waiting for unemployment benefits” — “Six months into the pandemic, some laid-off workers find themselves waiting weeks or even months to receive their unemployment benefits.”

Vox: “ Why the government makes it hard for Americans to get unemployment benefits” — “Twenty-six million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits as of April 23, as a result of the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.”

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.