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"I'm just trying to survive this": Laid-off employees struggle without benefits

Video credit: Reuters Studio
Published on May 7, 2020 - Duration: 03:05s

"I'm just trying to survive this": Laid-off employees struggle without benefits

While U.S. government guidelines say jobless workers who qualify for assistance should get payments within three weeks of applying, many - like Florida resident Claudia Alejandra - have been waiting twice that long.

This report produced by Yahaira Jacquez.

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"I'm just trying to survive this": Laid-off employees struggle without benefits

"I have not had any income since the last day of March and I'm just trying to survive this." For Claudia Alejandra, unemployment has become a full-time job.

Immediately after she was let go from her job at Macy's in Orlando, Florida, the 37 year old filed for unemployment.

Since then, she's spent her days trying to secure the benefits that should have arrived weeks ago.

"It was very frustrating, like with calling, calling, calling and I couldn't get any info or any response from the agency." Alejandra’s experience is similar to that of more than two dozen now unemployed Americans Reuters spoke to over the past week, who have yet to receive the payments the U.S. government said should arrive within 3 weeks of applying.

Many told Reuters they've been waiting twice that long.

"The bills keep coming in and we don't have an income after when we were told go home and stay home, we are going to make sure you get your incomes by the care act and the unemployment but that is not happening here in Florida at all." States have been overwhelmed, struggling to process a staggering 33 million jobless claims, which doesn't even capture those who haven't been able to even file a claim.

Still, among 4 states - Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota and Florida - Reuters found a wide disparity in whether or when people received payments.

All six people interviewed in Arizona and all eight in Michigan said they hadn't received a payment.

In Minnesota, where state employees field queries on social media and by phone, six out of seven said they were getting benefits.

In Alejandra's home state of Florida, only three out of eight said they're receiving payments.

Governor Ron DeSantis has faced a furious backlash as Florida has failed to deliver for hundreds of thousands unemployed residents.

As of April 25, the state was providing benefits to roughly 4% of its covered workforce, the lowest in the nation.

"I live paycheck by paycheck.

Yes, I do have some savings but I don't think these savings are going to last me this month, like May is going to be crazy." As one of the many not receiving benefits in Florida, Alejandra feels the government is failing her.

She's cashed out her retirement fund of $800 to make the monthly payments on her car, but doesn’t know how she’ll pay the rent for her studio apartment or her phone bill.

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