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Highest US unemployment rate since the Great Depression hits Southwest Floridians hard

The new national unemployment numbers are out and the rate hit 14.7 percent – the highest since the Great Depression.

There are heavy job losses in the leisure and hospitality sector, which is Southwest Florida’s bread and butter.

Deborah Hoagland is retired, but as a parent, she doesn’t stop caring about her kids, no matter how old they are. She says it hurts to watch her kids struggle.

Hoagland picks up food for her kids and grandkids at food drives, “When they come to the house they’re like ‘Oh my God where did you get this food?'”

Hoagland says her son started a heating and cooling business in January that’s now struggling, and her daughter is an out-of-work waitress.

“She has two children, one with Down Syndrome, who is 13, and a five-year-old. She’s been trying to get jobs cleaning house and is now doing anything she can to survive,” Hoagland explained.

Their family is far from the only one in survival mode.

In April, more than 23 million people nationwide reported being unemployed.

A stark contrast to what we saw just a few months ago.

Former Wells Fargo chief economist John Silvia says while he expects a good portion of the jobs will resume, some will be gone forever.

“I think the unemployment rate that was a little below 4%, probably is going to be more like 6 to 7% in two years,” Silvia said. “But I suspect that 5% of all the jobs are simply lost. They’re gone forever. Companies have to restructure, restaurants have to restructure, hotels will restructure. So it’ll be a very different ballgame.”

But until things bounce back, people like Hoagland appreciate all that’s being done, adding, “It’s been really tough but we’ll get through it.”

Reporter:Allison Gormly
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