'It makes me sad' Unemployment taking toll on jobseekers

Posted at 5:12 PM, May 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-08 20:51:52-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Habibullah Azad and his family recently came to the U.S. From Afghanistan for a fresh start.

But Azad lost his clerical job amid the coronavirus outbreak.

“Right now I have kind of a big problem," said Azad, who lives in El Cajon. "I do not have an income. I am trying to have a job.” Azad's ensuing job search has been fruitless - despite online applications and virtual job fairs.

It's a tough adjustment for someone who earned a graduate degree in Iran.

“I moved here. I start everything from zero,” he said. “Sometimes it makes me sad.” Azad has plenty of company.

New numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show just how devastating the virus has been on the nation’s economy. In April alone, 20.5 million people lost their jobs - and the unemployment rate jumped to 14.7 percent - the worst since the Great Depression.

“We're talking about an enormous shock to the system that's likely to be fairly shortlived,” said Lynn Reaser, Chief Economist at Point Loma Nazarene University.

Reaser said she sees the jobless rate peaking at 20 to 25 percent in the coming months. She said activity should pick up as restrictions lift this summer, but recovering unemployment will take much longer.

“A lot of these operations will be only up to 25 percent of where they were before, and they won't need as many people, at least initially,” she said
With the leisure and hospitality industry hit particularly hard, Reaser said this is likely a good time for some workers to retrain.

The overwhelming majority of workers laid off - 18.5 million - were let go temporarily, according to the BLS report released Friday.