Soon after the Louisiana legislature was gaveled back into session, a tense debate began over whether the state should open on a statewide or regional basis. And while valid points are being offered on both sides of this issue, no one can deny the seriousness of the economic crisis we’re facing due to the closure of the vast majority of the Louisiana economy.

Sadly yet unsurprisingly, another 52,000 Louisianans filed for unemployment insurance for the week ending May 2. While this is fewer claims filed than the previous week, these numbers would still cause a major panic if they occurred in more normal economic times.

The latest figures now bring the total number of claims in Louisiana to more than 560,000 since March 7. This represents more than a quarter of the people who were working or wanted to work in the state of Louisiana.

Eventually, all these working Louisianans now applying for unemployment will receive these benefits.  As of the week ending April 25, more than 300,000 people were doing so. It’s important to remember this number is currently a week behind the initial claims, which means it will continue to increase as thousands of people have their claims processed every week.

Some will point to the fact that the federal government is paying a large portion of unemployment benefits, but our state simply cannot continue to function with so many collecting benefits and not working. We’re hearing countless stories of devastation from those across the state and nation. Working families are struggling due to not being able to work, businesses are closing their doors forever, and bills continue to stack up.

As this trajectory appears more and more unsustainable with each passing week, the solution is clear – Louisianans need to get back to work as soon as possible.

The Pelican Institute is pleased to see serious debate and conversations in Baton Rouge over how and when to reopen the Louisianan economy, but we need Louisiana citizens to make their voices heard so lawmakers feel the urgency. Sign the Get Louisiana Working petition today, and share it with five friends. If we all come together and speak loudly, with one voice, we can send the message to our leaders that we must Get Louisiana Working as soon as possible.