- The Unemployed States of America takes readers deep inside the decimated American workforce.
- Stephanie Ravion is a 34-year-old healthcare customer service representative based in Little Rock, Arkansas.
- She lost her position when her job site closed down on March 24; she’d enjoyed her job and found it rewarding.
- Now she’s trying to take care of four children with the $71 a week the state gives her.
- This is her story, as told to freelance writer Sarah Prager.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
For almost a year, I worked for a company named TTEC as a healthcare customer service representative. I assisted elderly clients with their healthcare questions and claims. I enjoyed my job and found it quite rewarding.
Then everything changed: The pandemic hit, and my job site closed down on March 24. I didn’t file for unemployment right away because I wasn’t familiar with the program eligibility, since I’d never had to apply for it before.
When I did file, I was told that, though I waited six weeks, I would not be awarded any back pay, and the call volumes were disastrous. I was then awarded $81 a week to survive on — and, to add a bit of comic relief — they then took taxes out of it, leaving me with a whopping $71.
Now I’m struggling to take care of four children on $71 a week, which is virtually impossible.
I’ve been searching for jobs in my field and trying to stay safe at the same time. I have underlying medical conditions, so I’m searching for work-at-home jobs with minimum exposure. I complete about 20 applications per week, and I only get maybe two or three responses back.
It’s been hard living in a pandemic with chaos around us and family contracting COVID-19. My kids’ school shut down, and we’re all at home in constant worry and paranoia. One of my kids has special needs and he doesn’t understand why he can’t go to school or has to wear a mask when we go out.
I was recently diagnosed with depression and anxiety, and it seems like my world is closing in on me. As a teen I faced homelessness with my mom and siblings; those times I won’t ever forget. I was also homeless as a young adult with two children, but that’s a place I’m adamant about not going back to.
I want to be so much more and do so much more, but it all seems like a fantasy miles away. Being a single parent is difficult, but living in this pandemic and uncertain times plagued with financial burden makes it so much worse.
My state of Arkansas can do much better than this.
They should give everyone a minimum of $100 a week unemployment or more and cut down on processing times. I understand there are thousands of people waiting for benefits and some have been waiting as long as 12 weeks with no support. That is not okay.
I’m grateful for what I have, even if it’s not much, but I think every state should have some money put up in a reserve for emergencies. I wish the Democrats and Republicans would think about us, the little guys, while they’re running off to vacation. I think they shouldn’t be paid until we’re paid, and then maybe, just maybe, they would know how it feels to not know where your next meal or rent payment is coming from.