Thousands struggling to recover after economic downturn due to COVID-19

Thousands struggle to recover after economic downturn

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Hundreds of thousands of people are still receiving help from the government since the pandemic began.

Steps to curb the spread of the coronavirus resulted in thousands of people being laid off. More people are now finding work in Alabama as the unemployment rate drops from a staggering 12.9 percent in April to 7.5 percent in June.

“However, we know that there are still so many tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of Alabamians who are without work and still need assistance,” said Alabama Department of Labor Spokesperson Tara Hutchison.

The number of people on food assistance, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), in Alabama has also skyrocketed since the pandemic began.

Month Households
on SNAP
Individuals
on SNAP
March 335,919 706,626
April 354,410 739,950
May 363,723 755,038
June 365,109 755,694
July 361,924 746,774

It has been a difficult journey for those who suddenly lost their jobs.

Alabama resident Victoria Miller said she felt hopeless earlier this year after losing two jobs during the pandemic.

“And for several months, I was out of work completely,” Miller said.

Since then, Miller has tried to bounce back after renewing her CNA certification. She is trying to catch up on months of bills.

“I’ve just been working like 60 plus hours a week so that I can get back up on my feet and get everything caught up,” Miller said.

Miller was not able to receive unemployment benefits.

“After I realized that I was not going to be able to get employment. I was like, ‘Okay, if I sit here and don’t go back to work, then my bills are just going to stack up on me,” she said.

Rick Marks is the owner of Match Staffing, which helps employers find employees.

“I have never seen the demand for workers like it is today,” Marks said.

Marks has worked in the staffing firm industry for 17 years. He said the manufacturing industry is boosting pay just to find workers.

“We had one company that called us willing to pay nearly 40 percent higher in wages, just to get people through the month of August because they were so desperate,” he said.

Marks encourages people to reach out if they are still looking for a job.

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