The pandemic continues to affect employment in the Chippewa Valley

Published: Aug. 13, 2020 at 6:15 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 13, 2020 at 6:23 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - On top of the stress of back to school preps and juggling working from home, there are hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites who are out of work.

Last week the number of people in America who filed for unemployment fell below one million for the first time since March.

Nearly 200,000 people in Wisconsin filed an unemployment claim last week according to the state.

A majority of them are out of work due to the pandemic. Of those workers, there are some who have yet to receive a single unemployment benefit because of a catch-22 they say makes it impossible to get a new job.

“I’ve been filing for my unemployment since March 18, actually March 14. The holdup is because when they ask you are you available for work, I’m not available,” said Kellie Sanchez of Eau Claire.

She says she isn’t available because she is a single mother.

“After my son’s school closed I tried to work but I couldn’t ... And in a couple weeks I have to be here three days a week to make sure he’s schooled”.

Western Dairyland helped Sanchez pay her rent last month, but September will be here soon.

“I’m scared I don’t know what to do. It’s so easy for people to say well go get a job. If it was that easy id be out there doing it. It was hard prior to this”.

She's had discussion after discussion with unemployment adjudicators, with the same fruitless outcome.

“Please quit looking at me like I’m just another voice on the phone. I know this is a pandemic and you have a lot of calls and I know you have a lot of things to do and I get that and I respect that and I try. But you need to respect us”.

Respect; It's something that Sanchez and others need, almost as badly as a job. For others out of work, the golden arches are offering an unconventional chance to earn a paycheck.

“Were hoping to see quite a few applicants come through,” said Shelby Blome, Human Resource Manager at McDonald’s.

Blome says the current climate meant they needed to get creative to get positions filled.

“We want to be encouraging safe habits and this is something we can easily try out and see if it’s a successful hiring event for us”.

That’s why the McDonald’s on south Hastings Way in Eau Claire is holding a drive up job fair.

“Since all of our lobbies are closed right now we thought this would be the best way to try a different avenue for hiring,” said Blome.

Interviews will be between two and five pm, and applicants don’t even have to get out of their car.

Copyright 2020 WEAU. All rights reserved.

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