TAMPA, Fla. -- Nearly 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week — almost five times the previous record set in 1982 — amid a widespread economic shutdown caused by the coronavirus.
The surge in weekly applications was a stunning reflection of the damage the viral outbreak has inflicted on the economy. Filings for unemployment aid generally reflect the pace of layoffs.
"Not knowing where your next dollar is going to come from is pretty scary," said Roxanne Samuels.
Samuels was laid off last week as a supervisor at a hotel in Brandon.
"I miss everything about it. I miss the people, the interaction with people. I miss getting up in the morning and going to work and just having something to do," said Samuels.
In Florida, COVID-19 has driven tens of thousands of people out of work, with more than 74,000 filing for unemployment claims just last week, that's almost 12 times the week prior.
It's the highest number since 1987, when the Labor Department started offering weekly reports.
"We’re just trying to hold fast until we can, we can get better handle on COVID-19 and get people back to work," said John Flanagan, CEO of CareerSource Tampa Bay.
CareerSource Tampa Bay typically fields about 150 calls per day but this week the agency is receiving up to 600 calls daily.
"The system, it’s really difficult to ramp up in such a rapid fashion to manage the sheer influx in calls and keep in mind, at no time in history have we ever had this many calls in a week," said Flanagan.
CareerSource Tampa Bay has temporarily closed all offices to the public due to health concerns.
You can access more information on open jobs here.