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Massachusetts Restaurant Workers Struggle With Unemployment During Coronavirus Outbreak

BOSTON (CBS) -- Restaurants have suffered some of the biggest losses since the coronavirus pandemic, leaving many workers like Darnae Ricci filing for unemployment for the first time.

"Not being able to go to work or even having to file for unemployment, I think, is difficult for most people," she said.

Ricci said she's always had a job. Last November, she joined the staff at Dryft, a new Revere Beach restaurant, as a server. She never thought that less than six months later, she'd be filing for unemployment.

"It was confusing because Dryft is so new, so they couldn't find it in the system yet," she said.

Ricci said it only took a few weeks for her to get her benefits. But with the number of unemployment claims, experts say others may experience longer waits.

The highest number of unemployed people in Massachusetts are workers in the food and accommodation industry, followed by retail and construction.

Gov. Charlie Baker said the system is struggling to keep up with the volume of claims. He said enormous number of people who have applied is 10 to 15 times the number the state normally sees each week.

The state said more than 650,000 people have applied for unemployment, and 400,000 are receiving benefits.

Financial experts say anyone who's jobless should file for unemployment, contact creditors for help and create a budget. Michael Finer, a financial advisor, said it is going to be very painful for a lot people.

"Take these 39 weeks of unemployment benefits if you receive them," he said. "Budget them carefully and figure out what your plan is going to be if you're unable to get a job. You're going to have to be very nimble and very thoughtful and probably going to have to do some retraining to figure out where the new demand is going to be."

Ricci is one of the fortunate ones. She has a job to go back to. Dryft will reopen the dining room when the restrictions are lifted. She said it had a good following and hopes once it opens the doors, the restaurant will bounce back.


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