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Unemployment claims skyrocket across U.S. as businesses are forced to lay off employees during pandemic

Financial expert: You may have to delay retirement
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Posted at 7:06 PM, Mar 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-19 19:06:09-04

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. -- Coronavirus fears are forcing businesses to shut down and are throwing the markets in a tailspin. This week, the number of people filing for unemployment is soaring in Florida.

As layoffs skyrocket in America, CareerSource offices are shut down to protect against the coronavirus. But inside, employees are hard at work to help others find a job.

“I think this is going to have a long-lasting impact," said Jen Zak, Communications Director for CareerSource Suncoast.

Over at CareerSource Tampa Bay, employees are reporting a 25 percent increase in the number of calls for help this week alone. eLearning and assessment tools, the ability to search for jobs and access information about leading industry sectors, as well as learn about training and education assistance, are all available online.

Zak says the urgency mirrors the 2008 recession with some big differences.

“It’s different — I mean — people weren’t mandated to close their businesses at that time. It’s a different world right now," she said.

She says if you ever lose your job, start by filing for unemployment at connect.myflorida.com. CareerSource can help you find a job but unemployment benefits can only be granted by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

Zak believes we’ve got a long road ahead, based on a call she had with the state.

“With the department of economic opportunity on Tuesday... hearing that the number of unemployment claims went up by 300 percent in one week I think, is just one indicator," she said.

The other bad news right now, many companies have a hiring freeze.

“While I’d say the number of businesses who are not hiring is probably higher right now at this point. There are businesses that are looking to hire," she said. She adds there are plenty of open jobs for those in the medical field.

Meanwhile, coronavirus concerns are also impacting investors. Those near the retirement age are scrambling after the markets took a major blow this week.

“My prediction is that a number of people are going to have to, unfortunately, delay retirement because they’ve taken on more risk than they should have over the last couple of years," said Celine Pastore, a financial advisor at Simplepath Retirement.

Pastore says you need to figure out your financial health before deciding if you can afford to retire right now.

"Do you need that money right away? Do you have a pension that’s going to start immediately after you retire? Maybe you don’t need to tap into those accounts for a couple of years and if that’s the case you don’t need to put off retirement," she said.

Don’t let emotions put you in a position to sell low and buy high. The skittish should consider an alternative like bonds, which can be a great way to diversify.

“Bond portfolios in this type of environment are only down 1-2% some of them are actually making money right now," she said.

But she warns, don’t make the mistake of liquidating to only bonds and cash.