Historic jobless claims: 'I didn't get unemployment for 16 weeks'

The United States is experiencing historic jobless claims. More than 1.4 million Americans are filing for unemployment, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate is in limbo over the next coronavirus relief bill. A $600 weekly CARES Act benefit is set to expire on July 31.

We met Leah at Beacon Hill Food Forest where she is a new volunteer. She said the experience is fulfilling to her mental and physical well-being when so much is uncertain.

"I can do something concrete for myself. I can come here, get dirty, feed some plants, the plants can feed me," said Kapernick.

She filed for unemployment soon after the first wave of Covid-19 restrictions were placed back in March, but she didn’t find any financial assistance until 16 weeks later.

"It’s honestly pretty traumatic to think about," said Kapernick. "I didn’t get unemployment for 16 weeks and everyday I’d wake up like there was a huge rock on my chest."

Leah worked as a producer and project manager for large digital and tech companies. Right before the pandemic, she started a job transition and became a Pilates instructor.

"Quickly found that I loved that and I loved the gyms I was teaching at, and two months into getting private clients and having my regular schedule it just fell apart and all of that went away," said Leah.

After four months, Leah said she finally received unemployment insurance but all of that financial assistance went to paying off bills that had been piling up.

"We’re really struggling to understand how paying for college, and participating in the system to become middle class working Americans. How that’s ever going to pay off? When we don’t have healthcare, we don’t have jobs, sometimes $100,000 in student debt. What American Dream is that?" asked Leah. 

In Washington State, the Employment Security Department is reporting more than 670-thousand jobless claims were filed last week. More than 400-thousand of those claims were paid out.

"My country wasn’t really there for me when I needed it, and I’m not sure that they will be," said Leah.