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Stories from Americans who have lost their income amid the pandemic

Wednesday’s huge rise in unemployment claims dwarfs all historical records in the U.S. Although nearly 3.3 million filed, many economists say the number still doesn’t reflect the full scope of people who have been laid off or furloughed or are losing their businesses. We asked Americans to share their stories of the struggles they are facing right now. Here is a sampling of what we heard.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    That huge rise in unemployment claims we learned about today, nearly 3.3 million filed over the past week, dwarfs all historical records in the United States.

    Many economists say that that number doesn't fully capture the true number of people who have been laid off or furloughed, or are out of work because they are losing their business.

    We asked people today to share some of their stories and the real struggles they are facing right now.

    Here's just a sampling of what we heard.

  • Brittany Picuri:

    My name is Brittany Picuri.

  • Allyson Jaffe:

    My name is Allyson Jaffe.

  • Ababuti Olok:

    My name is Ababuti Olok.

  • Larrilou Carumba:

    My name is Larrilou Carumba.

  • Edan Alva:

    My name is Edan Alva.

  • Candace:

    My name is Candace. I'm a software engineer.

    And I was laid off just a couple of weeks ago. I had just embarked on buying my first home. And that happened almost a month before this happened. So I think being a first-time homebuyer and trying to navigate unemployment at this moment is the most scary for me.

  • Allyson Jaffe:

    I'm a co-owner here at the D.C. Improv Comedy Club.

    This has been horrific. I had to lay off my staff of 50 on March 16, and it was just devastating. They're hard workers. They're hourly workers. They have families. And we don't know how long we're going to be closed. And that's — that uncertainty has been the worst part.

  • Ababuti Olok:

    I have been working at the airport, Logan Airport.

    Originally, I'm from Ethiopia. I came in 2011 as a refugee. Now I'm a U.S. citizen.

    I don't have any clue or anywhere to go to pay my rent. I have two boys, which is making me to worry the most. My mom's here. My wife got laid off too.

    So, my thinking not for myself, but for my kids.

  • Brittany Picuri:

    I was a server at that Legal Sea Foods in the King of Prussia Mall. I have a child with special needs. I haven't taken my daughter outside, no — because she's nonverbal, and I can't even fathom taking her to the hospital if something like that were to happen.

  • Edan Alva:

    I am a Lyft driver. We're being put in a particularly difficult situation, where we have to make a choice between going out there unprotected and losing our homes, losing our car loans, or all the things that might happen financially when you don't make your payments.

  • Larrilou Carumba:

    I work as a housekeeper for eight years. I'm a single mom. And I have three kids.

    I am really concerned about — and scared about our health care. I just want everybody to be safe. And I hope that everybody will really be in a shelter in place, because — to control this virus, because everybody wants to end this, because it's really — I mean, everybody's being so — get anxiety about what's happening, because we don't know what would happen next.

    And I really don't know when I'm going to go back to work.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So hard to hear. And there were so many more just like them.

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