On Monday, Governor John Bel Edwards extended the statewide stay-at-home order to May 15. Meanwhile, the number of initial unemployment claims in Louisiana topped 440,000, and an estimate of our state’s real time unemployment rate sat at 27.5 percent. While the COVID-19 crisis is certainly raising valid concerns about public health, the economic damage inflicted by the shutdown is causing a crisis of its own and should not be underestimated or overlooked.

Let’s look at where we were at the beginning of all of this. For the week ending March 14, initial unemployment claims were just over 2,100. But the following week, that number spiked by more than 3,120 percent, totaling more than 72,000 new claims. This, of course, was due to the decision to close the Louisiana economy. Since then, more than 80,000 new, initial claims have been filed each week.

This brings us to the poor state we find ourselves in today. More than 400,000 Louisianans are out of work, bills are stacking up and businesses are shutting their doors forever. We simply can’t afford to have approximately a quarter of our labor force unemployed any longer.

To that end, we are strongly urging Gov. Edwards and all of our elected officials to treat the worsening jobs and economic crisis with the same urgency as the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis. We also recently launched our Get Louisiana Working petition and encourage all Louisianans to sign up and make their voices heard. We need to tell our leaders to get Louisianans safely back to work as soon as possible.