Ball State economist: Downturn is reversible ‘if we can control virus’

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — It’s called “Hoosiers Helping Hoosiers” and all funds raised will benefit restaurant and lodging workers who make up one of the largest sectors of Indiana employees.

“We’re just now going to start feeling the pinch,” said Erin Edds, who is unemployed because of COVID-19, explained to News 8 Thursday. COVID-19 threw Erin Edds out of work 2.5 weeks ago.​

“You worry about making car payments. You worry about making your cellphone payment.” Edds said.

She said she filed for and is getting unemployment but spent hours spent on hold. “Because my income was calculated incorrectly. Based on what I make, I should be getting the maximum weekly benefits and I’m getting less than half of that.”

She was the community relations manager at Peace Water Winery in Indianapolis.​

“My family is the hospitality industry in this city, and I don’t know how many of them are going to be able to stick this out without a lot of assistance through government programs.” Edds said.

She said he husband is still working, and she is focusing on good things for now. “I’m teaching myself to play the ukulele. I needed something to do with my hands!” Edds said.

Data shows Indiana had more than 133,000 new unemployment claims last week.​ That’s down more than 5,000 from the revised number for last week. ​The state cites an increase in initial claims due to COVID-19 and “Layoffs in the manufacturing, arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services industries” as the reason for higher numbers in the Department of Labor report.​

“This is an unprecedented three- or four-week period in American history where we’ve lost about 15 million jobs that we know of,” said Michael J. Hicks, a Ball State University economist.

We’re seeing the fastest contraction of employment in basically any period the nation’s history, according to Hicks.​

“That’s scary to most people, but I would caution people this is reversible if we can control the virus,” Hicks said.