COVID-19 made official landfall in the United States in January 2020. Since then, it’s had a domino effect on nearly every industry.
Businesses have been forced to close or adjust working procedures due to social distancing mandates and stay-at-home orders. And the number of people filing for unemployment has skyrocketed, with many people facing an uncertain job and financial outlook. As we enter a recession, finding a new job can be even harder.
If you have lost your job or are worried you might soon, you still have options.
Apply for Unemployment Benefits
If you have been laid off, furloughed, or had your hours reduced due to coronavirus, one of the first things you should do is file for unemployment. Recent changes in unemployment policies were specifically made for this unique situation. You may qualify for benefits even if you wouldn’t have in the pre-COVID-19 world. Make sure you understand the benefits you are entitled to, but also your responsibilities to access those benefits.
Expanded Unemployment Benefits
Federal law now allows for more flexibility and extended situations where unemployment benefits can be used when related to COVID-19. You may qualify for benefits if one of the following applies to your situation.
- Your employer has temporarily ceased operations due to COVID-19, preventing you from going to work.
- You are quarantined due to COVID-19 and will be returning to work when the quarantine period has passed.
- You have had to leave your job because of “a risk of exposure or infection or to care for a family member.”
Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation
If you are eligible for unemployment insurance, you may also be eligible for the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation. This compensation provides an extra $600 federal benefit per week on top of your regular unemployment benefits until July 31, 2020. To receive this compensation, you must apply for regular unemployment benefits through your state.
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation
The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation plan was enacted by the CARES Act and extends unemployment benefits for 13 weeks after regular unemployment benefits have been exhausted. You must be able and willing to work and actively seeking employment opportunities to qualify for these benefits.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program
Another new program created to help assist those who are dealing with unemployment issues due to the coronavirus is the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. This ensures that 1099 workers and those who are self-employed may also receive unemployment if their loss in business was due to the virus. If you qualify under this program, you would be eligible to receive 50% of the average unemployment benefit for your state of residence and an additional $600 per week under Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation.
Find Alternative Work Opportunities
If it’s possible—and safe—for you to continue working, there are employment opportunities that you can look into. While many customer-facing retailers may be laying off workers, other sectors, including manufacturing and essential retail, are booming.
Grocery Stores and Food Delivery Services
Many grocery stores are conducting mass hiring initiatives. They’re trying to get people who can work immediately to help stock shelves and check out customers to help meet the increased demand. In addition, many grocery stores need delivery drivers for their expanded delivery services. Check with your local grocery stores for availability.
Many restaurants have shut down their in-house services and are in need of more delivery drivers to help keep their doors open. Check out your local restaurants as well as these other delivery services that are currently hiring:
Online Learning Companies
As schools around the country have turned to homeschooling, online learning communities are in need of qualified professionals. Check out organizations like Outschool and Udemy. You can also check with apps like Nextdoor to see if anyone in your area is in need of tutoring services for their children.
Schools are closed and many working parents need daycare assistance. Many daycare services have closed down for health reasons, but nanny jobs and daycare teachers will continue to be in demand. If you are healthy and able, working families could use your services. Check out services like UrbanSitter and Care.
In addition to hiring certified positions like registered nurses and other licensed nursing assistants, many health care services are hiring more administrative and operational support positions to help with the influx of patients. These jobs are on the front lines and could be risky. They are not appropriate for all people.
Remote Communication Companies
As more and more people have begun working from home, companies that offer remote communication tools have been growing to meet the demand. Companies like Zoom and Slack are currently hiring for many positions.
Small businesses in your location may be in need of help but too busy to post about it. Reach out to local businesses to see if they need help.
Learn a New Skill
While you’re looking for a job, you could work to improve your existing skills or learn a new one. Living during a pandemic can have an immense emotional and mental toll in addition to the physical hazards. Try not to be too hard on yourself if you’re not as productive as you’d like to be. Learning a new skill can be difficult at the best of times.
Many free resources exist to help you learn new skills. Here are some great places to start:
It’s definitely a hard time to make a living as an artist or other creative at this time. But there are opportunities for folks. Do you have a hobby or skill that you can turn into a short-term side business? Inventory your skills and see how you can tailor those in new ways.
Find Options That Work for You
While these may be uncertain times, take advantage of the resources and laws put into place to help you find relief. And check out new job opportunities during COVID-19 that can help you maintain your financial footing during this time.