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Latest employment statistics for Anchorage show 18,000 less jobs since May 2019

Officials in Illinois say those unemployed due to COVID-19 can "generally qualify for unemployment benefits to the full extent permitted by federal law." Illinois Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Employment Security announced Wednesday they'll take additional steps to support those impacted by COVID-19. (MGN Image)
Officials in Illinois say those unemployed due to COVID-19 can "generally qualify for unemployment benefits to the full extent permitted by federal law." Illinois Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Employment Security announced Wednesday they'll take additional steps to support those impacted by COVID-19. (MGN Image)(KWQC)
Published: Jul. 6, 2020 at 10:03 PM AKDT
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A collapsed roof and safety concerns have put Tiffany Roberts's massage therapy business on hold.

“I can't work, and if I could, the opportunity to work at my clients' houses I'm not comfortable with because of COVID,” Roberts said.

She's collecting unemployment now, but with the expanded benefits running out at the end of July, she's concerned about the future.

“On top of COVID, and losing unemployment... it's almost like a worst-case scenario," she said.

And she's not the only one out of work, the

there were around 18,000 fewer jobs in May 2020 than in May 2019.

“So far, for the year, we're down over 8,000 jobs in Anchorage,” said AEDC CEO and President Bill Popp. “Counting [April and May,] and plus March's data, and that's a pretty tough spot for us to be in."

Popp said that number may actually be low. The preliminary estimates don't include many self-employed people, like Roberts.

“When we see the actual numbers come out, six months later, which will be in the October-November time frame for April and May, it's not an expectation of ours that those numbers are going to improve,” he said. “In all likelihood, they're going to show some even worse data."

At the same time, Popp added that other businesses are having trouble filling open jobs. Some people haven’t returned to work because of the expanded unemployment, but Popp pointed to another cause.

“A lot of that is being driven by health and safety concerns because of customers refusing to wear masks, or employers not being tough enough on enforcing mask rules in the businesses, as well as social distancing," he said.

Popp is hopeful about the future though, but if things are going to get better, he believes Anchorage needs to work through it together

“If we pull together and we each do our part in this, whether it's doing the right thing, wearing a mask, or doing social distancing, being smart about what you're doing to help prevent the spread of the disease, that's going to allow us to get some momentum going and get our economy back on track," Popp said.

And that’s a sentiment Roberts, and her husband Shaun, can get behind.

“We know that, even though COVID's here, and we have to deal with all the things that are coming down the pipe with it, that we're in it together as a family, and as a community,” he said.

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