After faint signs of hope of economic recovery in recent weeks, the decision to shut down bars for the second time seems to be taking a toll on Louisianans’ livelihoods. Governor John Bel Edwards issued the order to close all bars in the state on July 13.

The Department of Labor released its latest unemployment data Thursday, and the numbers show a new wave of higher initial  unemployment claims. Initial unemployment claims for the week ending July 18 increased by almost 5,000, rising to 31,155. This is the second time in three weeks that unemployment claims rose over 30,000 despite staying below that threshold during the previous six weeks.

Adding to the poor economic data, the Department of Labor once again revised the number of Louisianans on unemployment to over 310,000, which puts it up by 10,000 over its previous figure. This is the second week in a row the Department of Labor has made such a substantial revision.

With bars shut down again until August 7 under the new order, there is a good chance that initial unemployment claims will continue to rise or, at minimum, hold steady. If the shutdown continues and our state’s hospitality and service industry remains out of work, it’s unlikely we’ll reverse these negative trends anytime soon.

It’s time to put equal effort into solving both of the crises we currently face – COVID-19 and the crippling effects on working families emerging from the measures being taken to curb the spread of the virus. We simply cannot delay addressing the ever-worsening jobs situation. Now is the time to enact solutions to Get Louisiana Working as urgently as possible.