Covid-19 : Effects Of Corona Virus In Whole World

It’s Been A Struggle’: Laid-off Workers In Minnesota Feeling Effects Of Coronavirus Pandemic

It’s Been A Struggle’: Laid-off Workers In Minnesota Feeling Effects Of Coronavirus Pandemic
Ransom Bennett took a leap of faith last summer and opened a 400-square-foot tattoo shop just off of Grand Avenue in St. Paul.

He considers himself extremely fortunate that business has been booming ever since.

Walk into Grand Avenue Tattoo on any given day and there could be as many as 20 people packed inside with the omnipresent buzz of the tattoo guns serving as the soundtrack.

Except for the last month or so.

As the coronavirus pandemic has engulfed the country, prompting Gov. Tim Walz to close various businesses throughout the state, Bennett is among the millions of people who have been abruptly forced out of work.

“It’s been a struggle with no money coming in,” said Bennett, who acknowledged that the safety of his artists and his clients comes before anything else. “As tough as it is, we understand that this is the best option right now.”


Meanwhile, others like Kyle Stevens would be in big trouble without the unemployment benefits rolling in immediately. He was laid off by RiverTown Multimedia a couple of weeks ago after serving as regional sports editor for the newspaper group.

“You start looking at what some of the newsrooms nationally were doing and it was kind of like, ‘When is my time coming?’ ” said Stevens, who oversaw sports at the Red Wing Republican Eagle, the Hastings Star Gazette, the Bulletin of Woodbury and Cottage Grove, and the Hudson Star Observer. “We obviously knew we were going to have to reduce some staff across the board. Just didn’t really think I was going to be a part of that. It was still a shock when it happened.”

He applied for unemployment the next day and said the extra $600 per week authorized by the CARES Act has been extremely helpful. Especially considering he and his wife have twin 8-year-old daughters and a 6-year-old son at home.

“It’s safe to say without that extra $600 per week it would be absolutely brutal,” Stevens said. “It’s obviously not going to be good anyway. But it’s going to be much more manageable. I’m thankful for that.”
He’s also thankful that his wife still has her job at the Mayo Clinic in Lake City. She carries the family’s medical insurance.

“That’s the biggest thing for us,” Stevens said. “I have absolutely no idea what we would do if she didn’t still have her job.”


That feeling of helplessness has permeated across the country during the COVID-19 crisis. Many families have lost both breadwinners amid what’s heading toward the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

A recent report from the U.S. Department of Labor showed that about 22 million people have applied for unemployment across the country in the last month. More than 500,000 people have applied for unemployment in Minnesota alone.

Things like the extra $600 per week help, as do the $1,200 stimulus checks that started to hit bank accounts last week.

That said, according to Mark Wright, senior vice president and director of research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, those additional funds only go so far during tough times.

“Obviously the stimulus check will help some families because they’re better off than if they hadn’t received it,” Wright said. “But it’s not a lot of money for a family that has a mortgage payment or a rent payment or something like that. It’s not enough on its own. Fortunately, we’ve seen expansions in unemployment benefits, too, and that can also help lessen the blow.”


There are also people out there such as Ava Barr, who is actually making more money with the extra $600 per week than they were in their previous job. She was recently laid off from her position as a substitute teacher with Minneapolis Public Schools.

“I’m in a really privileged situation, and I understand that,” said Barr, who recently got her master’s degree and plans to go back to school in the summer. “I’m living at home so my expenses are next to nothing. My only job right now is to save money. That stress of applying for unemployment and wondering how much I was going to get wasn’t really a worry for me because even if it was $0 I’d be fine.”

That said, applying for unemployment gave Barr some perspective. She qualified for $150 per week before the extra $600 per week kicked in. That total is similar for some substitute teachers who have been laid off and amplifies the need for the extra $600 per week right now.

“It definitely brings some awareness to how low unemployment is,” Barr said. “What can someone do with $150 per week? Nothing. It’s impossible to live off of something like that.”


In the meantime, the current situation continues to add stress for Bennett and hundreds of thousands of people across the state. Just because the money stops doesn’t mean the bills do.

Those have been piling up throughout the COVID-19 crisis, which means for some people out of work, the $1,200 stimulus check is already moot.

“That’s probably a mortgage payment, or a rent payment, or like a handful of trips to the grocery store in the grand scheme of things,” Bennett said. “This has already gone on for a month, so for some people out there, that $1,200 stimulus check might be gone as soon as they get it.”
For Bennett, even though the additional funds will help, there’s no way it’s going to make up for the lost business. And the scariest thing is there’s no end in sight.

“You just don’t know how long this is going to go,” Bennett said. “If we had a timeline it would be much easier to plan financially. There isn’t anything like that. There’s no way of knowing.”

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