Center for American Progress Action

RELEASE: Michigan Shift Worker Speaks Out After Being Denied Unemployment Benefits During Coronavirus Crisis: ‘I’m at Like $20 in My Purse’
Press Release

RELEASE: Michigan Shift Worker Speaks Out After Being Denied Unemployment Benefits During Coronavirus Crisis: ‘I’m at Like $20 in My Purse’

Press Contacts

  • Freedom Murphy

Washington, D.C. — According to data released by the U.S. Department of Labor, an additional 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, bringing the national total of unemployment claims to nearly 17 million in just the past three weeks. The report comes as small businesses and shift workers continue to be affected by necessary social distancing guidelines meant to curb the spread of COVID-19, which has infected more than 580,000 people to date and claimed the lives of more than 24,000 people. Now, the Center for American Progress Action Fund is releasing a new video in a social media campaign to highlight the real stories of Americans who are being affected by the Trump administration’s delayed and chaotic response to the pandemic. 

The campaign is telling stories of Americans such as Sarah May who worked as a bartender in White Lake, Michigan. According to May, after she was laid off from her bartending job one month ago, she was denied unemployment because she made too little as a shift worker to qualify for benefits. Many workers like May are being forced out of work and are waiting for clarity and assistance from the Trump administration. May worries that many shift workers are running out of options. 

“When I was laid off I actually had to call my boss. She’s just a small, tiny business owner, so she didn’t know what to tell us to do,” says May. “I got the notification that I was denied. I made just $171.25 too little to qualify [for unemployment]. People who have been laid off, we have maybe enough to get through another month. I live shift to shift. I’m at like $20 in my purse until something happens.”

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, please contact Freedom Alexander Murphy at fmurphy.af@americanprogressaction.org.