Floridians Struggle As Jobs Plummet During The Coronavirus Crisis

Jobless chart

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By Giselle Balido

March 25, 2020

Those in the service industries are more vulnerable to the coronavirus fueled economic crisis. Four Latino Floridians who are feeling the crunch share their stories.

As businesses shut down across Florida due to the threat of coronavirus spread, thousands in the state have lost their jobs, or are now working reduced hours. In fact, during a Tuesday press conference, Gov. Ron DeSantis said 18,000 Floridians filed for unemployment benefits to the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) on Sunday, followed by 21,000 on Monday. When compared to 5,325 claims filed the first week of March, the numbers are staggering. 

But the numbers don’t tell the story. The real stories of worry and trying to make ends meet are told by the men and women who—in the midst of the pandemic—are facing the loss of income as they struggle to put food on the table and pay their bills. 

Flora González: “The thing that worries me is the uncertainty”

“When I was laid off I felt my whole world come crashing down,” said the 47-year-old divorced mother of one who worked as a sales representative for a local company. Having recently arrived from her native Costa Rica, Flora finds herself with scant resources to brave the economic fallout. “I have no savings, so I’m totally dependent on my job to pay my bills. That’s my biggest worry right now. I’ve called my creditors asking for more time to pay. I’ll talk to my landlady, hoping I can pay my rent in installments. Of course, I’m worried about the future. I think people will be afraid to invest and the economy will stall a bit. But the thing that worries me the most is the uncertainty; not knowing how long we’ll be in this situation or when we’ll get back to normal. I’m hoping the government will help us out.” 

Tony S.: “I can hold on for this month, but after that…”

He had been working at a South Beach hotel for three months when he was sent home, leaving the 35-year-old Peruvian-American (who prefers to withhold his last name) facing a tough choice. “My main issue is paying the bills, so I’m trying to reduce my spending, eating two meals a day and cutting down on supplements, such as protein shakes, and my martial arts training. These things can be really expensive on a monthly basis. This situation has really affected my budget and I’ve had to put some plans on the back burner. I can hold on for this month but after that… it will be hard if things don’t get back to normal soon.”

Patty Com: “As a waitress, this has me very worried”

“The restaurant where I worked is now only serving take-out, so some of us servers were sent home without pay,” says the 50-year-old from South America. “I supplement my income with tips, so this has me very worried. The future is so uncertain… I’m trying to minimize expenses and cut back on spending as much as I can… But I still worry that after the coronavirus crisis is over, the hospitality business will be affected; I’m afraid people will try to save by not eating out. So we need to be patient and hope that this passes quickly so we can get back to normal. It won’t be easy, but with the right attitude, we’ll get over this crisis.” 

Ana Costoya: “I’m going to have to use up some of my savings…”

“What can I say? I’m concerned. I won’t be making any money for a few weeks,” said the Cuban-born hairstylist, who was sent home without pay when her Miami salon closed indefinitely. “I’m going to have to use up some of my savings… I’m also working together with my neighbors, finding out who needs what to see how we can help. At the same time, I’ll take this time off as an opportunity to be closer to my parents. Everything passes and this too shall pass. So I’m handling it like everyone, with faith… y adelante!”




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