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KY Continues to See Sky-High Unemployment Claims

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Friday, June 19, 2020   

FRANKFORT, Ky. - More than 800,000 Kentuckians have filed for unemployment insurance since the start of the new coronavirus pandemic, and experts warn the economic downturn will likely have ripple effects that could last for years.

Ashley Spalding, research director with the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy says a major issue for many states is the lack of a rainy day fund, which is typically socked away during economic upturns in order to have a financial buffer in recessions. She says Kentucky didn't save enough.

"Currently we have just 3% of general fund expenditures in our rainy day fund." says Spalding. "And the goal for states is 15%, and the median is about 11%. So, we are not prepared."

Earlier this week, hundreds of residents who have not yet received unemployment benefits congregated at the state Capitol, all hoping to speak with unemployment insurance personnel face-to-face and resolve their claims.

Spalding adds more federal relief will be critical to ensure that fewer Kentuckians slip into poverty. But she points out that state lawmakers' decisions in the past few decades have contributed to the current level of financial desperation amid an unprecedented public health crisis.

"Our lawmakers have made choices to enact tax breaks for special-interest groups." says Spalding. "And so we've lost revenue in that way, that we could have been setting aside just for things like this."

Researchers at the Economic Policy Institute say nationwide, job losses remain at historic levels, with more than one in five workers either relying on unemployment benefits or still waiting for their claims to be processed.




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