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Episode 19: The Unpaid

Adrian Florez

Since the COVID-19 pandemic landed in Washington, the economic fallout has driven more than a million people in the state to apply for unemployment insurance. 

Those payments have become the safety net for workers during the worst recession in many decades. The federal government beefed it up significantly in the CARES Act — a recognition of how urgent the situation is for tens of millions of Americans. 

But now, after weeks and, in some cases, months out of work, large numbers of unemployed Washingtonians still have not gotten paid. 

There’s plenty of responsibility to go around — unprecedented demand, fraud of a shocking magnitude, red tape — but the upshot is that people such as laid-off bartender Steve Weaver say they’re being pushed to the brink of financial ruin. 

“Uh, we need our money, we need it now. People need to live,” he says.

Today’s episode: The Unpaid. KNKX’s Jennifer Wing invites us to walk in the shoes of Steve Weaver and others.

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Gabriel Spitzer is a former KNKX reporter, producer and host who covered science and health and worked on the show Sound Effect.