Food banks set up around New York after millions register as unemployed

Hundreds of food banks have been set up around New York to provide three meals a day to the newly unemployed and struggling.

Volunteers at one centre in The Bronx told Sky News more and more people are coming “in waves”, although some are worried to leave their apartments.

A further 6.6 million Americans registered for unemployment benefits over the past seven days, taking the total jobless across the United States more than 16 million in the space of just three weeks.

The figure represents 10% of the entire workforce, a similar size to a small country, and economists predict it will significantly exceed the 15% jobless rate recorded during The Great Depression.

Jamie Evans lost her job of twelve years last week.
Image:Jamie Evans lost her jobs after 12 years

One New Yorker, Jamie Evans, lost her job of twelve years last week.

She said: “I don’t know how I’m going to get medical insurance, that concerns me because I need medical for my health conditions. How am I going to buy food? It’s very stressful, I have anxiety, I can’t sleep because I don’t know day-to-day what I’m going to do or if I’m going to make it.”

We met Joshua Aviles searching for food after two days going without. Until a few days ago he had a job in a supermarket.

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Coronavirus: Infection numbers in real time

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Coronavirus: Infection numbers in real time

“I just found out today I lost one of my friends to COVID-19,” he said.

“He died on Thursday and I didn’t know that until now, I’ve just been really sad. I’m really hungry.”

The unemployment figures, already vast, are set to get much worse. Some of the more pessimistic predictions estimate upwards of 40 million will eventually be out of a job as a direct result of the pandemic.

Record employment forged over the past five years has been wiped out. Some 15 million found themselves out of work during the 2007-09 recession. That total ticked up over an 18 month period, but America has now surpassed that in a few short weeks.

The are new signs that President Donald Trump is growing impatient again. He has so often boasted of a growing economy and strong stock market and hopes to campaign off the back of that later in the year.

Two volunteers are seen preparing packages in the food bank.
Image:Two volunteers are seen preparing packages in the food bank.

He had originally suggested lifting restrictions and re-opening the economy by Easter, this weekend. That cannot happen.

But although deaths remain very high the curve is flattening in the hardest hit state, New York, and he there is concern among experts that this will encourage Mr Trump to loosen the lockdown.

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Even so, few share his optimism that the economy will “skyrocket” soon, instead believing that it will take months and possibly years for the US market to fully recover.

America’s “other crisis” has a long way to run, and its effect on society already is truly vast.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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