Donald Trump wanted states to “keep quiet” about the number of unemployment claims that were going to be filed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic that he exacerbated through his callous and malevolent indifference and neglect. The pandemic he sat on for nearly two months, telling us it was a “hoax” and would “all go away.” The one that was “all under control.” The one that he didn’t bother to prepare either our workers or our hospitals for.
Pennsylvania, which (thank God) has a Democratic governor, dutifully agreed to keep those numbers quiet until Thursday morning.
Well, it’s Thursday morning, almost. And..gosh…one of our state senators, who will remain unnamed, just didn’t want to follow the program.
The economic bleeding from the coronavirus pandemic is already well underway in Pennsylvania. And it’s going to get worse before it gets better.
More than a whopping half a million Pennsylvanians have filed new unemployment claims during the last week, according to a state senator briefed by the Department of Labor and Industry. The 540,000 new unemployment claims — filed between March 16, when Gov. Tom Wolf first announced the closure of all nonessential businesses, and Tuesday — are a record number, and demonstrate the sweeping economic fallout from efforts to slow the coronavirus.
This is the highest number of weekly unemployment claims ever filed in Pennsylvania—by a factor of nearly ten.
Previously, the highest number of first-time claims filed in a week in Pennsylvania since at least 1987 was 61,181, in early 2010, according to federal labor statistics. The monthly total that year also set the previous record, topping out at 168,159.
It’s important to note that these claims only represent those actually eligible for unemployment compensation. Many other workers have lost their jobs as well.
Many of those who filed are low-wage workers. They are hotel housekeepers, baggage handlers, cashiers — workers already in precarious positions, facing unpredictable schedules, unaffordable health care, and no access to paid sick leave. And then there are workers who aren’t even reflected in the department’s count because they aren’t eligible for unemployment insurance: undocumented workers, gig workers, and workers who get paid in cash.
Yes, it’s really unsettling what one administration’s gross incompetence and malign neglect of Americans can accomplish.
This is a nightmare scenario. Welcome to the Trump Depression.
Elections matter. Competence matters. In spades.