Layoffs wreck the states that lifted Trump to the White House
One of the only major battlegrounds seeing a lower claims rate than the national average is Wisconsin, according to the analysis.
The numbers are likely to continue rising for weeks, as states work through a backlog of applications and race to dole out benefits to gig workers and others who are newly eligible for aid. They’ll remain elevated as long as restaurants, retail stores and other non-essential businesses remain shuttered. And even once some areas of the country begin to reopen, it could be months or years before Americans are back to work at the same levels as before — undercutting Trump’s plans to hang his re-election bid on leading the economy to a robust recovery.
Instead, Democrats across the country are already working to make the remainder of the 2020 campaign a referendum in part on the economic fallout from the coronavirus, and whether more could have been done to avoid shutdowns that threw more than 26 million Americans out of work in just over a month.
“The economy is in a freefall now. And I don’t think it had to be this bad,” said Lavora Barnes, chair of the Michigan Democratic Party.
Some state-level Republicans, meanwhile, are calling for a staggered reopening of businesses, arguing that continued shutdowns in Michigan and elsewhere are no longer necessary and only making job losses worse. The Trump campaign defended the president for taking decisive action starting in January to combat the coronavirus. Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Matthews said that while economic growth has been "artificially interrupted," Trump is "the best suited to restore it to greatness."
In Florida, the country’s largest battleground state, laid-off workers have consistently encountered issues over the past few weeks trying to file applications for unemployment, struggling to access aid in a state where it was already difficult to do so. A POLITICO analysis shows about 13 percent of workers there have filed for unemployment benefits in the past five weeks, less than the national average. But as of last week, only about 6 percent of applicants had received benefits payments through the broken system, ranking it among the worst in the country for fulfilling claims.