December 3, 2020

Hoosiers Seeking Unemployment Assistance On the Rise, Reflecting Virus Surge

Original story from   IPBS-RJC

Article origination IPBS-RJC
Hoosiers Seeking Unemployment Assistance On the Rise, Reflecting Virus Surge - Justin Hicks

Hoosiers Seeking Unemployment Assistance On the Rise, Reflecting Virus Surge

Justin Hicks

New claims for unemployment benefits have been steadily rising since mid-October. Economists say it’s further proof that COVID-19 – not government restrictions – is hurting the economy.

The uptick in new unemployment claims almost mirrors the rise in coronavirus infections (although to a less pronounced degree) reported by the state. And even though there’s less ongoing claims being filed, a sizable amount is from people who used up their 26 weeks of regular benefits.

Those claimants are now counted under Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, a temporary federal program that grants an additional 13 weeks of benefits. 

Rachel Blakeman, director of the Community Research Institute at Purdue University Fort Wayne, saod jobs exist when consumers have a demand for – or feel safe enough to use – those services. And as long as a deadly virus is raging through the state, people won’t be going out as much. 

“Part of this is being driven by changes dictated by the government, but as much, if not more so, are changes being done by individual consumers,” she said. “So let’s remember that the economy is interconnected.”

Blakeman says as many temporary benefits for unemployed workers under the CARES Act and the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act end this month, we’re staring at “an economic cliff for far too many families.” 

Meanwhile, the Department of Workforce Development issued a public warning Thursday, saying high levels of fraudulent claims are being filed for unemployment benefits. It urges Hoosiers to be careful about sharing personal information online to suspicious sources. 

Contact reporter Justin at jhicks@wvpe.org or follow him on Twitter at @Hicks_JustinM.

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