The U.S. economy has been hit hard by the global COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, forcing many businesses to either shut down or lay off a significant portion of their workforce. Economists predict that April 2020 could set a new record for U.S. job losses with as many as 5 million workers joining the unemployment line.
If you have recently been laid off for reasons relating to the Coronavirus pandemic, the following resources have been made available to ease the financial strain of unemployment.
If you recently received a layoff notice, read our step-by-step guide on how to prepare for your layoff.
Also, see this list of U.S. companies hiring during the Coronavirus pandemic, and our article on how to become a contact tracer.
Resources for Laid Off Workers:
Government's $2 Trillion Coronavirus Stimulus Package:
On Friday the 27th of March, President Trump signed a historic $2 trillion Coronavirus stimulus bill. At more than double the size of President Obama's stimulus package of 2009, the Coronavirus stimulus bill will provide much-needed financial relief for Americans affected by the Coronavirus pandemic.
For laid off workers, financial aid will come in the form of an individual cash payment of up to $1,200 and an additional $500 for each child. The amount of money received would be reduced by $5 for every $100 a person earns over $75,000. This would be based on your 2018 tax filings.
Laid off workers would also benefit from increased unemployment benefits. The government will pay out an additional $600 per week for four months to qualified persons over and above established state benefits.
Coronavirus Stimulus Package Quick Facts:
- President Trump signed the bill on the 27th of March 2020.
- The economic stimulus package is the largest in U.S. history.
- Qualifying individuals will receive a direct payment of up to $1200 and $500 per child.
- The money would be reduced for Americans earning more than $75,000 per year.
- Number of children, marital status, and income levels would be based on 2018 tax filings.
- Unemployment benefits will be increased by an additional $600 for four months on top of state benefits.
Unemployment Insurance Benefits:
Whether your layoff is temporary or permanent, you may be entitled to certain unemployment insurance benefits. In response to the unprecedented effects of the Coronavirus on the economy, the federal government has granted states additional flexibility to adjust their laws and provide additional UI benefits to Americans affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Unemployment benefits are designed to be a stopgap for individuals who find themselves out of work through no fault of their own. Funds are provided as a way to temporarily maintain a portion of your income until you are able to find new employment.
Due to the effects of the Coronavirus and quarantine measures, lawmakers have made a broader group of workers eligible for unemployment relief including workers who are sick or quarantined, self-employed as well as those who have been laid off or had their hours reduced.
Unemployment insurance programs vary by state but closely follow federal guidelines. After your last day of work, you are required to file a claim with your state's unemployment department and list the reason why you stopped working. Many states are encouraging people to file online to expedite the process.
Once your claim is filed, the department will contact your former employer to verify your previous earnings and the reason why you stopped working. A weekly benefit amount will be allocated to you based on this information equating to between 60% to 70% of your typical earnings.
You may be granted up to 30-weeks of unemployment insurance, depending on the state you were working in.
Unemployment Insurance Benefits Quick Facts:
- States have been granted additional flexibility to adjust their unemployment benefits laws.
- Unemployment benefits vary by state and must be applied for after your last day of work.
- States are free to waive their seven-day waiting period.
- Weekly benefits will be allocated based on your previous earnings.
- Claims may take slightly longer to process due to the increased number of countrywide layoffs.
Tax Payment and Filing Extension:
The U.S. Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has extended tax day from the 15th of April to the 15th of July. This allows individuals and businesses to use funds originally provisioned for tax payments to pay for more pressing bills. All taxpayers will have this additional time to file their tax returns and make payments without incurring any penalties. President Trump has encouraged all taxpayers who are due to receive a tax refund to file as soon as possible in order to receive their funds.
Tax Filing Extension Quick Facts:
- Tax day has been moved to the 15th of July.
- Taxpayers will have additional time to file and make payments without incurring any penalties.
- Taxpayers due for a tax refund are encouraged to file as soon as possible.
Suspension of Interest on Federally Funded Student Loans:
If you or one of your family members are paying off a student loan, there is some good news. The government has allowed for a 60-day suspension of interest and payment deferral on all federally-funded student loans. President Trump said the payment suspension could be extended if economic conditions do not improve.
Studen Loan Quick Facts:
- 60-days suspension on interest and payments for student loans.
- Applies to all federally-funded student loans.
- Suspension may be extended if the economic situation does not improve.
Financial Assistance From Banks and Credit Unions:
To curtail the effects of the Coronavirus on the economy, the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency have encouraged banks to offers assistance to customers affected by the Coronavirus outbreak.
Many banks and credit unions are now offering financial assistance on a case-by-case basis. For example, Ally Financial is allowing mortgage and auto loan holders to defer payments for up to 120 days without any late fees.
CBC Federal Credit Union is offering impacted customers fee waivers, payment skips, and low-interest short-term loans. ORNL Federal Credit Union is offering an emergency assistance loan with 0% interest for the first six months.
If you are experiencing financial hardship, reach out to your bank for assistance. You can find the full list of banks offering financial assistance on the American Bankers Association website.
Financial Assistance Quick Facts:
- Many banks and credit unions are offering financial assistance.
- Assistance is provided on a case-by-case basis.
- Assitance may include fee waivers, payment deferrals, and low-interest loans.
Foreclosure and Eviction Moratorium and Proposed Mortgage Deferrals:
There is some good news for Americans who are struggling to pay their mortgage during this difficult time. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has directed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to suspend all foreclosures and evictions for at least 60 days. The suspension applies to all homeowners with an FHA-ensured single-family mortgage.
The news may be even better for homeowners as industry trade groups sent federal agencies a list of proposals allowing for payment forbearance. According to the Housing Policy Council, mortgage services would be able to provide an initial 90-day forbearance on all mortgages that could be extended to 12-months if necessary.
Foreclosure Moratorium and Mortgage Deferral Quick Facts:
- All foreclosures and evictions have been suspended for 60-days.
- The suspension applies to enterprise-backed single-family mortgages
- Trade groups propose a plan for payment deferrals.
- Mortgage services would provide an initial 90-day forbearance that could be extended to 12-months.
The global COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic has had a major impact on the American job market. Many businesses are suspending hiring operations altogether while others have been forced to lay off employees.
The outbreak has effectively changed the hiring landscape, creating intense demand for skilled workers in retail, pharmacies, and online services. Major corporations such as CVS, Walmart, and Amazon have all announced job openings with more than half a million positions available.
Hiring Programs Quick Facts:
- The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the hiring landscape in America.
- Pharmacies, retail stores, and online service providers are seeking thousands of employees.
Resources for Laid Off Workers:
What resources are available for workers laid off in the U.S.?
- Government unemployment benefits.
- Tax payment and filing extension.
- Suspension of interest on federally-funded student loans.
- Moratorium on evictions and foreclosures.
- Financial assistance from banks and credit unions.
- Government and private hiring programs.
- A proposed stimulus package with direct payments to individuals.
Must I still file my tax returns in April?
Tax day has been moved to the 15th of July. You are encouraged to file in April if you are expecting a tax refund.
Are U.S Banks reducing their service fees due to the Coronavirus outbreak?
Yes, many banks and credit unions are waiving their fees and suspending payments for impacted customers.
Can I file for unemployment if I am temporarily laid off?
Yes, check with your state's unemployment agency for full details on UI benefits amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Which companies are still hiring?
Many companies in the retail and online services industry are looking for qualified personnel including Amazon, Walmart, and CVS.