(CBS) — About one in six American workers, or more than 26 million people, have filed for unemployment benefits in the past five weeks. And some Americans were already looking for jobs before the coronavirus shut down much of the economy.
Four Kansas aerospace workers, who were laid off when Boeing suspended production of the 737 Max jet weeks before the coronavirus crisis hit, are still unemployed. Their severance has now run out and their health insurance will end next week.
“It’s pretty bleak right now … It’s a scary time to be without insurance,” said Chris Jump, who was laid off as an aircraft mechanic. “If we hadn’t got the stimulus check, I don’t think we would have paid rent this month.”
It’s been a long frustrating search for Jump, who is a father of four.
“I’ll have to find two jobs to make the money that I was making in order to keep my house,” he told CBS News transportation correspondent Kris Van Cleave after being laid off. “If it comes down to buying food for my kids or buying insulin for myself, I’m picking food for my kids.”
Jump said he is “scared” about that choice.
“Diabetes almost killed me two years ago, but I’m not going to tell my kid, ‘Hey, you can’t have no spaghetti tonight ’cause dad needs insulin.’ No. That kid’s going to get a meal until dad’s laying in the ground,” he said.
Carol Edwards, another aerospace worker who was laid off, said her savings won’t be enough to support her family while she’s out of work. She is taking care of her daughter and four grandkids.
She’s been waiting three weeks for an unemployment check and can’t wait much longer.
“I have like $400 left,” Edwards said. “My grandkids don’t understand … why I cry … why we’re struggling and why there’s very little food in the house.”
Rent is due again next Friday and Edwards is worried she could lose everything.
The job market in Wichita, Kansas, like so many places, is virtually frozen right now.
Edwards’ hope for finding a new job right now is “slim to none,” she said. “So I’m between a rock and a hard place with nowhere to go. I feel like I’m drowning.”
CBS News contacted the state about the issues with Edwards’ benefits. After publication of this story, the governor’s office in Kansas told CBS News the issue had been resolved. Edwards confirmed she heard from the state’s Department of Labor and that she expects to receive her unemployment benefit as soon as Saturday.
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