Amid shutdown, thousands of federal workers file for unemployment

More than 4,700 federal employees filed for unemployment within the last week of December, compared with 929 the week prior, according to the Department of Labor. There is usually no federal data available yet for the first week of January. Unemployment rules vary by state; generally the government provides benefits to eligible workers who have lost a job “through no fault of their own,” for a maximum of 26 weeks.

In fresh York, more than 900 furloughed federal workers have applied for the benefit. within the first week of January, 114 federal employees in Alabama filed for unemployment, compared with just 16 the previous week.

“This specific makes a lot of sense with all the uncertainty people are facing,” said Michele Evermore, a senior policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project.

Essential workers typically are not eligible for the benefit because they’re still showing up to a job, although furloughed workers likely will qualify. Many of the 4 million government contractors who have seen their paychecks come to a halt are eligible, as well.

Andrew Leyder, 27, a data analyst on contract at the Department of Transportation in Washington, D.C., applied for unemployment within the second week of the shutdown along with has already been approved.

“I didn’t think This specific could have come down to This specific,” he said. “Though unemployment insurance won’t cover all of my expenses, the weekly payout is usually better than nothing.”

Without unemployment, Leyder said, he could have to move back home with his family in Michigan. “I have co-workers who are maxing out their credit cards in order to survive these past few weeks,” he said.

He’s looking for another job in case the shutdown doesn’t end soon, though he’s not too optimistic that will he’ll be able to find one. “Being in D.C. where the majority of us work for the government, This specific’s very hard to find another job when everyone is usually also trying to find a fresh job,” he said.

Some states have a waiting period before workers qualify for unemployment along with the application process can take weeks. Government workers might hit another roadblock: no one is usually at their office to verify their lack of employment.

Gabrielle Roesch is usually currently waiting to receive her first unemployment check. within the meantime, the post-doctorate fellow at the Department of Agriculture has postponed her bills along with stopped saving with her husband for retirement. “I’m actually concerned about digging into the little savings we do have,” Roesch, 37, said.

To keep receiving her unemployment benefit in Oregon, she must prove that will she’s looking for work, including producing contact with at least two some other organizations each week. “This specific’s very odd because I have a full-time job that will’s actually important to me,” she said.

Federal workers will have to pay back any money they receive under the program if Congress passes legislation to compensate them for the period the government was closed.

Whitney Brown, a curator at the Smithsonian Institution, applied for unemployment a few days ago. She worries about producing her mortgage payment along with some other bills, without falling deeper into credit card debt.

“People say, ‘Go get a job, delivering pizza,'” Brown, 35, said. “This specific’s not that will simple. I’m accountable to This specific job in Washington.”

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