Life Remains Uncertain For Those Who Lost Jobs and Work Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

Coronavirus has increased unemployment rates.
This is a Getty stock image.

Unemployment claims have surged 33% nationwide last week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, and as a result, it may take longer for people who have applied to be approved.

With a host of businesses closed due to the outbreak of coronavirus in the United States, many people have been laid off or left without work and now have an uncertain future ahead of them.

Monique Bidgell, who lives in Suiteland, Maryland, is one of those people. She works as an operations manager and said she received a notice last week about her layoff, but she has no idea when she’ll be back at work.

“At this point, we really don’t know,” Bidgell told “We just have a layoff notice that says, 'hey, we don’t know the time that you will able to come back, but keep your ears open.'”

Bidgell, who has rent to pay and two kids to provide for, said she is happy to have a savings in this time of need.

“Nobody wants to tap into their savings,” the mom said. “It’s definitely a hardship, because I have two boys and it was so last minute. At this point there’s nothing we can do but try to play the waiting game. I don’t think people are going to be hiring even if you go to seek for another job.”

The first thing Bidgell said she did with her savings was pay her rent for the next two months.

Bidgell said she plans to apply for unemployment by the end of this week. However, with unemployment claims having surged 33% nationwide last week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, it may take longer for people who have applied to be approved. To receive benefits, a person has to have lost their job through no fault of their own, and even if one does get approved, unemployment is only a percentage of the person's income, which varies by state.

While the length of time a person can receive unemployment also depends on the state, most have a maximum payout length of 26 weeks. 

Bidgell said she’s going to use her time off to relax, but she said this whole ordeal has definitely been an “eye-opener to us all."

“I am just not going to worry,” she said. “I never have had time to just lay in the bed so that’s what I am going to do. I am going to appreciate the small things and then I will probably clean the whole house.”

The mass business closures are also affecting freelancers across the country.

Seher Sikandar, who lives in New York, is a freelancer in the media industry, predominantly photography, said she is not sure how she will make ends meet amid the crisis. 

"In general, with the safety advisories, all the ways I typically make the vast majority of my money are on pause indefinitely— for what could be months or a year plus," Sikandar said. "My ability to keep my apartment and stay in NYC where all my work, network, and industry is is very much up in the air."

Sikandar has been pondering having to change her career if this pandemic persists longterm.

"It's a lot to balance-- the shock of losing pretty much all my work and income indefinitely...," Sikandar added.

Erik Washington, a 23-year-old freelancer in Brooklyn, New York, works in the creative industry with branding and production. He said the government's requirement to practice social distancing is putting a damper on his work, although it's understandable.

“Once the government began to restrict gatherings, a lot of my photo shoots and productions started to get canceled and rescheduled for some random date in the future,” Washington told

Because Washington is only in his first year of freelancing, he said he'd previously prepared himself for not knowing where his next check will come from. He’s trying to keep a positive attitude through it all.

“I try to just stay calm and keep to the basics: wash hands, don’t touch the face, and cover your mouth. All the rest I believe will figure itself out,” Washington said. “Most of us are going through similar changes right now. Keep communicating with each other, it’s nature’s medicine.”