Another 3.8 million Americans took refuge in unemployment benefit applications last week, raising the number of unemployed due to the coronavirus epidemic to more than 30 million.
Such numbers of unemployed people have not been seen in the United States since the 1930s. And, unfortunately, they are expected to increase even more.
Specifically, economists estimate that the unemployment rate could reach 20%. After the Crash of 1929, unemployment had reached 25%.
Needless to say, these numbers are tragic.
However, what is even more tragic is the people behind these numbers.
They are people of all social, economic, and educational categories – all ages, religions, genders, and races.
But those who are paying the highest price for the coronavirus are the poorest and least educated.
There are many immigrants in this category. People who immigrated to the United States for better lives and who are currently trapped in a country where they often do not understand the language. As a result, many are unable to register in the state aid programs.
The immigrants are also disproportionately represented among the women and men who are still working but are forced to risk their lives, taking public transport to go to work as taxi drivers, in supermarkets, and restaurants – all the places that have a delivery business or are in the transportation sector.
Many of them also work in hospitals and in nursing homes. In other words, they are the ones who have no choice but to move around because they must work in order to feed their families and pay their rent. And in many cases, they must send something to their family and loved ones in other countries who are also suffering.
This is a very difficult time for all of us.
But it is an especially difficult time for the millions of refugees and migrants who are changing maps around the world. They are the ones between Scylla and Charybdis – caught between a rock and a hard place, between impoverishment and hunger and teeth of the coronavirus itself.
[Allow me to change the subject for a moment. A couple of days ago I read that Finland, the third country in a row, will take 170 unaccompanied refugee minors from camps in Greece. I understand the objective difficulties involved. In fact, I happened to visit such a camp and it was heartbreaking. But if I had the choice, I would have preferred to send them the older people. Not the children, who will grow up as Greek children, with gratitude and pride in their second homeland.]
Back to the original subject, the issue of unemployment and my anxiety for our Greek expatriates who are among those immigrants who put themselves at risk from the virus so that they do not die of starvation – they are also heroes!