Huge rise in unemployment following COVID-19 outbreak


Maiah Woodring/The Lion's Roar

The usually busy dining area of Lee’s Drive-in sits empty after the state put measures in place to slow the spread of the pandemic. The coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak has triggered a collapse in the U.S. workforce with 10 million people losing their jobs in the past two weeks and economists warn unemployment could reach levels not seen since the Depression, as the economic damage from the crisis piles up.

On March 13, President Trump declared a national emergency due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
Preventative measures are already in place to prevent further spread of the virus, including the closure of all restaurants, bars, movie theaters and other non-essential businesses.
Those who have lost their jobs have the option to file for unemployment insurance with the Louisiana Department of Labor.
According to the Louisiana Workforce Commission’s website, “Unemployment insurance is a program designed to provide temporary financial assistance to workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own and who meet the requirements of the Louisiana Employment Security Law.”
Those who wish to file for unemployment insurance must meet the following criteria: they must have earned enough wages in the first four of the last five calendar quarters, they must be fully or partially unemployed through no fault of their own, they must be physically able to work and must be actively seeking work.
According to an article by The Guardian, over 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment last week.
Katelyn Robertson, a freshman English education major, worked at Great American Cookies in Hammond Square Mall until she had to give up her job. Robertson explained how her employer cut her hours prior to the store’s closure.
“My store didn’t officially close until last Tuesday, and I got an email from the COO saying all stores had closed and all associates are ‘laid off,’” said Robertson. “However, before this, when the virus first started affecting businesses and schools in Hammond, my manager cut everyone’s hours and the store limited its hours.”
Robertson was laid off after all GAC franchises were closed nation-wide. Prior to that, her hours were cut until she was not working anymore.
“There were only three employees, and the manager took everyone’s hours,” said Robertson. “When this happened, I didn’t get any shifts, and my coworker only got one shift a week. We believe this is because she’s on salary, so she doesn’t have to be paid hourly like we do, so the supervisor over her had her work instead of us so he wouldn’t have to spend extra money on us. It’s not fair to us as employees, and I feel others should be aware that supervisors can do that and are doing that to prevent spending money.”
Robertson plans to file for unemployment benefits because she is unsure of when she will be able to work again.
“I have no idea when I’ll return to work, or if I even will,” said Robertson. “They may choose to keep our store closed. They did say, though, that they hope to reopen all stores and rehire everyone. Until then, I’m applying for unemployment, and I’m going to try applying at grocery stores like Walmart and Target because they need more people right now.”
To file for unemployment insurance, visit