INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Unemployment records have now been shattered by the coronavirus pandemic.
Nationwide jobless claims last week soared to over 3 million cases.
The unemployment numbers didn't come as a big surprise to economists, but the sudden spike in claims has overwhelmed the state systems.
With the coronavirus forcing many businesses to temporarily shut down, millions of hourly employees have suddenly been laid off.
“I'm living paycheck to paycheck. I don't even know what to do,” said Kathryn Coffey.
Coffey was furloughed from a job she started in January. This week she tried to sign up for unemployment, but Indiana's Workforce Development website warns people wait times are longer than usual, which appears to be an understatement.
“I got online at 12 in the afternoon. I was online until 12 midnight. 12 hours!” said Coffey.
With her claim initially denied, Coffey filed an appeal, but isn't sure how she'll be able to pay her bills in the meantime.
“I'm feeling lost. I'm trying to stay hopeful, but I'm hopeless,” said Coffey.
“We haven't seen this since unemployment was created,” said UIndy finance professor Matthew Will.
Will says he expects the nationwide unemployment numbers to get worse before they get better.
“I definitely see a couple more weeks of increase, but then it will come down because the stimulus package includes money for people to rehire or retain employees,” said Will. “Still, I wouldn't be surprised if we see 19 or 20 percent unemployment in the next 3 weeks.”
“I’m not the only person going through this. That gives me some peace, but peace doesn’t pay my bills,” said Coffey. “I have a roof over my head, but looking forward I don't know where I'm going from here,” said Coffey.
Prior to the pandemic, nationwide unemployment claims were tracking around 200,000 a week. That does not include many people who are self-employed.
Right now Indiana is not even in top 10 states filing unemployment claims.