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KERA's One Crisis Away project focuses on North Texans living on the financial edge.

‘I Feel More Than Confident I’ll Survive’: Furloughed, Trying For Unemployment And Still Positive

More Texans were unemployed in June than at the peak of the 2008 recession.
Paul Sancya
Associated Press
The COVID-19 outbreak has triggered a stunning collapse in the U.S. workforce with 10 million people losing their jobs in the past two weeks and economists warn unemployment could reach levels not seen since the Depression, as the economic dam

With unemployment claims at an all-time high, Texans in all sorts of industries are losing their jobs, or are worried they might soon. But one North Texas man, who was recently furloughed, is trying to stay positive.


John James has worked in the hospitality industry for 11 years, selling items like shampoo and refrigerators to hotels. He was recently furloughed. 

"With our industry, I kind of knew this was coming," he said. "We started bleeding the last couple of weeks. You know, no sales were coming in."

On a conference call last week, James said 60% of the company was put on furlough. While his company is paying for his insurance and healthcare, he said filing for unemployment has been tough. He keeps on calling the number of the unemployment office, but none of his calls are going through. 

"I call the number, you know, it says that the call frequency is too high," he said. "I call back again. And I try doing that throughout the day yesterday… I didn’t get anywhere."

He said one of his co-workers told him they're having the same issue. Still, James is trying to look ahead. 

"I don’t feel defeated. I’ve done everything that I could do," he said. "With what’s going on, it’s out of our control. But we’ll see if it continues this way in a week or so."

James said he heard the state has been slow in issuing money to furloughed workers. But he said he'll wait a week or two before he really starts to worry.

"I feel more than confident I’ll survive, he said. "I’ll get through it."

At the time of James spoke with KERA, he said time was on his side and that he'd reassess the situation and adjust his plans accordingly.

The wait is over. He finally got through to the Texas Workforce Commission. James has been approved for unemployment. 

Note: This story was updated April 8 to reflect that James eventually was able to connect with the Texas Workforce Commission.

Hady Mawajdeh has been a reporter, producer, and digital editor at KERA since 2016. He is the creator and the co-host of KERA's first narrative podcast, Gun Play. And prior to his work in engagement, he also reported on arts and culture, social justice, and gun rights for the newsroom.