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Washington economist says coronavirus unemployment numbers far worse than reported

Systems in Florida and across the country leaves jobless unaccounted for

ORLANDO, Fla. – The senior economic analyst for Bankrate.com told News 6 he is convinced millions seeking unemployment benefits are not reflected in the Labor Department’s jobless data because they have not been able to file for benefits.

Mark Hamrick said the record 6.6 million jobless claims filed last week are the ones that got through.

“It absolutely concerns me that people who need benefits can’t get through,” Hamrick said Thursday. “This is a global, national and regional game of Whac-A-Mole where lives and livelihood are at stake.”

Hamrick said the final economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic will include a trail of bankruptcy and the permanent elimination of jobs in the retail and restaurant industries.

For now, he feels getting the promised lifeline of increased unemployment checks is the No. 1 priority for families trying to make ends meet.

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“We don’t have a playbook from which to draw, a good model for how this plays out,” he said.

In terms of the 10 million jobless claims filed over the past two weeks, Hamrick does not anticipate a downturn on demand for benefits.

“I think there is more to come ,”Hamrick said. “The devastation that occurs economically is only going to escalate in the intermediate or short term.”

Shannon Tosney, a single mom in the Melbourne area, lost her job in produce sales and marketing on March 23 and has still not been able to get her jobless claim into the state system.

“There’s anxiety, there’s depression only because everything is unknown,” Tosney said. “If I’m just one of the many who knows what the numbers are actually going to be.”

Her 9-year-old son Christian continues distance learning and she continues a search for a new job and those unemployment benefits.

“It is day 11 for me," she said. “It’s just a continuous cycle of frustration to be honest.”

Florida’s unemployment numbers jumped to 227,000 after more than 74,000 unemployment claims were filed the previous week.

Tosney said she will keep trying to get her application for benefits into the systems.

“I don’t think that those numbers (unemployment data) are accurate because those of us who are trying to get into the system clearly cannot so those numbers will increase,” she said.

If you have an issue getting unemployment or small business grants, email mholfeld@wkmg.com.

To keep up with the latest news on the pandemic, subscribe to News 6′s coronavirus newsletter or go to ClickOrlando.com/coronavirus.


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