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Priced Out: Where Is Our Safety Net?

A person files an application for unemployment benefits in Arlington, Virginia.
A person files an application for unemployment benefits in Arlington, Virginia.

More than 30 million people have filed for unemployment insurance in the past six weeks. Many of the recently unemployed find themselves wrestling with a system that is difficult to navigate and is reportedly unprepared to meet the surge in demand.

And this may just be the beginning. From The New York Times:

There is much worse to come. Widespread layoffs and business closings didn’t hit until late March in most of the country. Economists expect figures from the current quarter, which will capture the shutdown’s impact more fully, to show that G.D.P. contracted at an annual rate of 30 percent or more, a scale not seen since the Great Depression.

Unemployment insurance represents a safety net to protect the vulnerable. What happens if that net begins to fail? Was the net any good to begin with? And what does it mean for those who find themselves seeking access to this form of help for the first time, but being unable to receive it?

Copyright 2020 WAMU 88.5. To see more, visit WAMU 88.5.

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