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All Americans who have lost jobs in pandemic deserve our help - and more | READER COMMENTARY

Seth Flicker, who lost his work as a handyman and has been stymied in filing for unemployment benefits, in Brooklyn, April 29, 2020. With over 30 million filing unemployment claims in six weeks, millions of others may still be shut out as states grapple with new guidelines and sheer volume.
Seth Flicker, who lost his work as a handyman and has been stymied in filing for unemployment benefits, in Brooklyn, April 29, 2020. With over 30 million filing unemployment claims in six weeks, millions of others may still be shut out as states grapple with new guidelines and sheer volume. (Laylah Amatullah Barrayn/The New York Times)

I hear the stories every day. How soon someone is going to not be able to make a car payment, a rent payment, how they are cutting back on the medicine they take or skipping meals. As an unemployment insurance professional here in Maryland, I’ve heard it all. But that doesn’t make each case easier to hear (“Payroll collapse: US lost more than 20 million jobs in April,” May 6).

We are witnessing unemployment claims like never before. And these waiters, Uber drivers, flight attendants, they didn’t cause this economic crisis. The coronavirus did, and the rest of us are all paying to beat this killer pandemic. Congress can do more to help. We need the next COVID-19 response bill to provide way more in additional direct, unrestricted funds for state and local governments to rebuild public services — services that will help those who lost a job, help others keep a job and help us all rebuild our economy.

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Behind every one of those jobless claims is a public service worker like me committed to making sure people who have been laid off get the help they need. It’s tough, right now. It’s tiring. But we’re proud to be there for them. The connection I make with the claimants, the “God bless yous” and the “thanks-yous” at the end of a call — those are the things that make this work rewarding because it reinforces we are all in this and will all get through this together.

We have a long road ahead. But we’re America. We can do this.

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Jason Suggs, Oxon Hill

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