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Unemployment in the Face of the Coronavirus Epidemic

Hayden Lester, Contributing Writer

Throughout the year, the United States has been reeling from the unfolding coronavirus epidemic. This epidemic has now affected more than a million people around the globe and the U.S. is leading in the number of cases. Coronavirus can affect the human body in a myriad of ways, from the common cold to serious respiratory illness and even death. In order to slow the spread of this highly infectious virus, many states across the U.S. have enacted “stay home” orders for their citizens, including New Jersey. Every part of our society has been highly affected by these “stay home” orders, but nothing compares to our economy. Millions of people have already lost their jobs, and it is expected that this number will continue to arise. The virus unemployment wave has affected every citizen in America, and especially those in areas that are highly affected, like New Jersey, specifically Bergen County.


Unfortunately, the U.S. economy has been massively affected by this crisis. Over ten million Americans have already filed for unemployment, and according to economists at the Fed’s St. Louis total employment reductions may reach “47 million, which would translate to a 32.1% unemployment rate.” Some estimates of job loss could reach above 50%, which would be almost three times as much as the rate during the Great Depression. The U.S. has recently approved a two trillion dollar economic relief package in the hopes that it will ease the economic turmoil which is due to come from this health crisis-turned economic depression. This package would provide a check of up to $1,200 per person, ideally to be used for groceries and to supplement bill payment while all non-essential workers are meant to stay at home. 


New Jersey ranks #2 in the number of cases per state in the U.S with over 58,000 positive tests, falling behind our neighboring state, New York. This has led to strict rules regarding how citizens in New Jersey interact. Most businesses have shuttered after being designated non-essential and told to close indefinitely in an effort to slow the virus’ rapid spread.


This has led to an unprecedented number of unemployed people at home, with over three hundred thousand people filing for unemployment benefits in the past couple of weeks in New Jersey alone. The New Jersey state government has already responded to this event in a number of ways, including providing many online resources for those unemployed in the state. These online resources include a database of businesses that are still hiring during this time as well as guides specifically for those filing unemployment due to Coronavirus. 


Unfortunately, Bergen County has not been saved from this wave of virus chaos. Bergen County has come to see the highest concentration of cases in New Jersey. Following the Governor’s orders to stay home, Bergen Community College has also chosen to transfer the rest of the semester’s classes to an online format. Additionally, BCC’s parking lot has been chosen as a drive-through testing site for those who may be infected. All of these things combined have led to Bergen county is one of the most heavily impacted areas in terms of unemployment. 


The impact left by the virus has certainly been \ detrimental to this nation’s economy, and the financial stability of many ordinary Americans, including those of us living in Bergen County. This crisis is being felt all across the world, in every corner of the continent, and all over our state. Not only will this impact be felt in the short term, but it will also shape our country’s industries and organizations for years to come. This situation is still constantly developing and needs to be closely watched in the coming months. This crisis is truly unprecedented, and it will be sure to shape our county, our nation, and our world, in the coming years. 



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