A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Kentucky continues to see sky-high unemployment claims as pandemic downturn drags on

By Nadia Ramlagan
Public News Service

More than 800,000 Kentuckians have filed for unemployment insurance since the start of the new coronavirus pandemic, and experts warn the economic downturn will likely have ripple effects that could last for years.

Ashley Spalding, research director with the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy says a major issue for many states is the lack of a rainy day fund, which is typically socked away during economic upturns in order to have a financial buffer in recessions. She says Kentucky didn’t save enough.

(KyForward file photo)

“Currently we have just 3% of general fund expenditures in our rainy day fund.” says Spalding. “And the goal for states is 15%, and the median is about 11%. So, we are not prepared.”

Earlier this week, hundreds of residents who have not yet received unemployment benefits congregated at the state Capitol, all hoping to speak with unemployment insurance personnel face-to-face and resolve their claims.

Spalding adds more federal relief will be critical to ensure that fewer Kentuckians slip into poverty. But she points out that state lawmakers’ decisions in the past few decades have contributed to the current level of financial desperation amid an unprecedented public health crisis.

“Our lawmakers have made choices to enact tax breaks for special-interest groups.” says Spalding. “And so we’ve lost revenue in that way, that we could have been setting aside just for things like this.”

Researchers at the Economic Policy Institute say nationwide, job losses remain at historic levels, with more than one in five workers either relying on unemployment benefits or still waiting for their claims to be processed.

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One Comment

  1. Elizabeth L Nackson says:

    I am in tears. I listened to Beshear say not to refile unemployment claims-that it would slow down the process. How cute. I ended up having to file again a month later because there was no record of my claim and I received NO LETTER. When I refiled (Beshear, are you listening?) I was told I would get money from OUI and to call on June 16 which I did. I was told I would receive money 2 to 3 days later. No money. i need to pay my rent. I need to pay my bills. I am in tears as I write this. Today I called the Unemployment Office and a teleprompter told me I was in line for Level 2 support. I can’t find anything online about what that means for me or how long the process will take. I am now in a queue for a phone call. I was counting on that money. I am not greedy. I will take less money if I can get it faster. I just don’t want to be evicted! I am 70 years old and I have nothing to even sell to pay the rent! I have called to try to go back to work and was told to reach out again the end of August. PLEASE GOD WILL YOU OR SOMEONE ELSE HEAR ME AND HELP ME?

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