Day 41 of self-isolation.
As of writing this post, 26 million Americans have filed for unemployment. And like many Americans, I was furloughed three weeks ago.
About 90% of my office was furloughed, but luckily myself and a very small handful of us were temporarily relegated from full-time to part-time employees (others were completely furloughed or laid off). I don’t blame my job at all for their decision, since there are so many companies and businesses experiencing the same fucking thing. Still, having my salary cut in half is financially devastating (especially living in New York), and we were encouraged to file for partial unemployment.
I applied last Monday on the web, and was taken to a “Submission Confirmed” page. Cool, right? I even received a confirmation email that I’ll get a call from the unemployment office in 72 hours. It’s been one week, and I have not gotten one phone call. What’s worse, a few days after applying, the New York State Department of Labor sent a followup email stating that I need to answer more questions or my application will get rejected. They provided a link in the email, but each time I click it, it just leads me to the same “Submission Confirmed” page I received when I first applied:
Every single fucking day, I login to the Department of Labor website, only to automatically get redirected to that goddamn “Submission Confirmed” page. I can only imagine the majority of people in New York are experiencing the same or similar difficulties.
Fortunately, I have enough money saved to pay for my May rent and utilities. It’s the end of that month that’s giving me some financial anxiety. Despite being partially furloughed, I calculated that it would take 3 part-time paychecks (equivalent to 6 weeks worth of work) just to barely pay my rent — not including bills or necessities like food. New York City is a wonderful place, but it’s so expensive to live here. Covid-19 has crippled this city in terms of hospitalizations, subsequent deaths, and the economy. And with the flood of millions of people applying for unemployment, the government and the technology it relies on are overwhelmed. It really wouldn’t surprise me that after all of this has passed, only self-made millionaires who already entered this pandemic as wealthy will remain in this city — surrounded, not by small businesses or restaurants, but by Chase Banks, Starbucks, and nearly-empty condos.
So here I am, stuck in the bureaucracy of an unemployment loop, financially uncertain of what’s going to happen tomorrow. Since I’m the only active designer in my office (aside from the senior creative director), I’m hoping I’ll get reinstated full-time again and still work from home. I’m really hoping they’ll be a statewide rent-freeze, and my bills can go on a temporary forbearance. Till then, I’ll keep on clicking that email link, hoping the government will approve my application, and thinking I can survive another day.