WASHINGTON, DC — Kentucky has had more unemployment claims in the last nine weeks than in the eighty-one weeks of the Great Recession.
"We are in a very deep downturn as a result of COVID-19. We’ve had over 800,000 Kentuckians file for unemployment insurance," said Jason Bailey, Executive Director of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy.
KCEP says the Commonwealth, already among the poorest in the nation before COVID-19, is particularly ill-suited to assume the harsh realities of this new recession.
"We are in a very serious economic trough. People have lost their jobs. Businesses are shuttered or at least temporarily closed and it makes it difficult for many people, especially in a state like Kentucky that already had high poverty and low wages to make ends meet," he said.
Its most devastating impact has been on Black Americans.
"The disproportionate job loss we saw in restaurants and retail, that’s hit a lot of low wage workers, a lot of workers of color who we see now from the data are disproportionately Black. Black Kentuckians are disproportionately losing their jobs in this recession. The pain is widespread but it’s concentrated among certain groups," said Bailey.
He joins the chorus of state leaders that argue additional aid for states from the federal government can't come soon enough.
"We are still going to see job loss if there is not more federal relief for state and local governments because they have only begun to see some of the loss that we’ve seen in the private sector."
Congressional Democrats have called for more bailout money to be distributed before July but Republicans aren't committed to as swift a timeline.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act included $150 billion for state and local governments across the country.