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Locals share their unemployment experiences as millions are without jobs

Labor Department says it saw an increase of 3 million unemployment claims last week
Posted at 6:20 PM, May 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-07 22:02:45-04

Another 3.2 million people filed for unemployment in the United States in the last week alone.

Preliminary data from San Luis Obispo County shows nearly 14,000 people filed for new unemployment insurance claims in April, but that number is expected to be higher when final results are released at the end of the week.

Knitting has kept Lydia Sweeny busy after she lost three jobs to the pandemic.

"On top of Ubering, on top of hotels, I was catering with Popolo's, so I was constantly, constantly going, and transitioning to doing nothing is extremely hard," said Sweeny, who lives in San Luis Obispo.

From losing her income to getting unemployment benefits, she said the month in between was tough.

"I would have to call and get my car payment put on hold which accrued more interest and I paid some of the smaller bills," Sweeny said. "I know I'll get by, but it's just worrisome not having a paycheck, not working."

For an Atascadero mom, the extra income she made working at Kuma Sushi went toward supporting her growing family.

"We counted on that income to pay our health insurance. We counted on that income to pay the bills and for the kids," said Danielle Koehler, who was laid off. "We were very stressed out by that."

However, that stress was erased by the generosity of the community. She said free meals and groceries from local churches and schools allowed her family to focus on what matters most: health and happiness.

"My husband is not only responsible for working 13 hours a day but doing the grocery shopping and anything else that needs to be done," Koehler said.

Santa Barbara County has not yet released its numbers.

Since March 14, the EDD has processed a total of 4.1 million claims and paid a total of $8.9 billion in benefit payments.

On Friday, new national unemployment numbers for April are expected to be released. Experts predict it could be the worst jobless rate since the Great Depression.