US unemployment claims rise 15% , Calif. gov. grants $125M fund for undocumented


indica News Bureau- 

Amidst the lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, 5.2 million more people have filed unemployment claims by April 11 at the Department of Labor(DOL).

According to the DOL, this has been the sharpest and most severe rise in the loss of jobs in the history of the USA.

Overall, more than 22 million people have filed for initial benefits in the span of just four weeks, accounting for about one of every seven workers in the economy, and nearly wiping out the 22.4 million jobs created in the 11-year recovery that followed the last recession in 2009, reported The Hill.

According to economists, the unemployment rate has already peaked to 15%, a landslide rise from 3.5% earlier this year. Many economists also feel that the rate of unemployment con reaches 20%, as high as the period of Depression as social distancing and stay-at-home orders have shut down many small businesses like restaurants, cafes, shopping centers, hotels and bars etc.

Stock futures, which seem to have already priced in the ongoing economic disaster, remained stable upon the news, with trading even staying in somewhat positive territory.

The economy has tumbled into a tailspin as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and steps to combat it.

Even big companies like Google have paused hiring for this year to combat the pandemic. Last year the tech giant had hired around 20,000 employees but has declared a slowdown in hiring this year.

“We’ll be slowing down the pace of hiring while maintaining momentum in a small number of strategic areas, and onboarding the many people who’ve been hired but haven’t started yet,” Google said in a

According to The Hill, in an internal memo, Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai said that now is the time to significantly  slow down the pace of hiring, “while maintaining momentum in a small number of strategic areas where users and businesses rely on Google for ongoing support, and where our growth is critical to their success”,

The tech giant is also “recalibrating the focus and pace of our investments in areas like data centers and machines, and non-business-essential marketing and travel”.

Pichai last month announced the company will provide over $800 million to support small and medium businesses (SMBs), health organizations, governments and health workers on the frontline of global COVID-19 pandemic, including $250 million in ad grant to the World Health Organization and more than 100 government agencies globally to help them provide critical information to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

According to Business Insider, Microsoft is also “temporarily pausing recruitment” for some roles.

The unadjusted data showed 4,971,823 claims for the week, a decline of about 20 percent from the previous week. By way of comparison, the comparable week last year had just 196,364 claims. The four-week total still tops 20 million.

The latest unemployment claims figure was below the one-week peak of 6.9 million reached two weeks ago and the similarly jaw-dropping 6.6 million filed the previous week, giving some hope that the most intense rate of job loss may be over. But even these figures do not include those who were self-employed and unemployed gig, whom the Congress had promised aid.

Andrew Stettner, a senior fellow at The Century Foundation said, “The numbers today don’t include millions of unemployed gig or self-employed workers who have been promised aid by Congress. For the most part, these workers can’t even apply for help yet as states are still delayed in setting up the required applications.”

March’s $2.2 trillion CARES emergency rescue law included provisions to both expand the scope of unemployment eligibility and add $600 a week to standard benefits.

But Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), vice chairman of Congress’s Joint Economic Committee, said the actual numbers are much higher than those applying for the unemployment claims as the process is not very easy.

“These numbers would be even scarier if all of the Americans who have lost their jobs in recent weeks could actually file a claim,” he said. In some states, he added, “it is easier to find toilet paper than it is to file for unemployment.”

Congress has been wrangling over a plan to top up the program with $250 billion in additional funds. Republicans have pushed to pass a clean addition to the program, while Democrats want to add as much as $250 billion more in funding to states and hospitals, saying that the current program leaves out groups that don’t typically have access to the banking sector.

The Labor Department’s official unemployment figures for April, which will include the data in the latest claims report, is not due until early May. It will also take into account new jobs created.

It could potentially contain some good news, as millions of businesses applied for the government’s Paycheck Protection Program. The $349 billion program in the CARES Act provides small businesses with forgivable loans to keep workers on the payroll.

California Governor Newsom grants $125M fund for undocumented immigrants

Keeping the plight of undocumented workers in mind, California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday said he has extended the unemployment call center hours to help the record 2.7 million Californians who have filed claims and created a fund to help undocumented immigrants, who comprise 10% of the state’s workforce despite resistance from the Republic party who accused him of spending tax-payer money on those who had entered the country illegally.

Newsom extended the hours of the Development Department’s call center from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week, rather than closing at noon Monday through Friday through an executive order.

Undocumented immigrants will be eligible to tap into a $125 million relief fund as they navigate through the economic upheaval unleashed by coronavirus outbreak, Newsom announced. The $2 trillion federal stimulus package did not include aid to undocumented workers.

About 150,000 immigrants – a much smaller portion than the actual number of undocumented in the state – will be able to receive up to $1,000 per family and $500 per individual, Newsom said.  Newsome is exercising a lot of efforts to collect the funds from various sources including the state that is contributing $75 million what Newsom is calling a Disaster Relief Fund, and that money will be dispersed through a community-based model of regional nonprofits, $50 million from corporations and philanthropists that call themselves the Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees who established a separate fund called California Immigrant Resilience Fund. Donors include the Emerson Collective, Blue Shield of California Foundation, The California Endowment, The James Irvine Foundation, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and an anonymous donor, among others who have already raised 5.5 million dollars.,