Looking for work during the pandemic

The new Luminary Hotel in downtown Fort Myers held a job fair Thursday. (Credit: WINK News)

So many have been affected by unemployment, and almost 50% of those who lost their jobs think it’s permanent.

“I don’t have a job right now and I’m looking,” said Sandy Spahn of Cape Coral.

“I lost my job… I want to say March 7 is when they pulled me into the office to let me know,” said Jayden Ortiz of North Fort Myers.

“Well, like a lot of people, I’m out of work,” said Elizabeth Wedlake of Fort Myers.

All three of them were at a job fair for the new Luminary Hotel in downtown Fort Myers on Thursday, and while they may be different people, they all have to struggle to make ends meet.

“Like… the hammer came down,” Wedlake said.

“I mean, honestly, emotionally … that’s kind of a tough question,” Ortiz said.

“Awful… it’s awful,” Spahn said.

Ortiz is one of many who had no choice but to move back in with his parents. He used to work as a general manager at a hotel in Pennsylvania.

“It wasn’t something that was out of the blue. I saw the numbers every single day I was coming into work; there was no reservations, it was just cancellations,” he said.

Spahn is part of another trend: The struggle to collect unemployment benefits.

“I’ve gotten only one check for 275 and one for 600 and then they stopped,” she said.

“I have a daughter in Cuba and she depends on me and my help, and so whatever situation, whatever amount of money, I feel like it’s not going to be enough to help her,” said another unemployed jobseeker, Iliana Santana of Cape Coral.

The stress is taking a toll on her bank account – and her nerves.

“It’s stressful. I was in a very bad place. I was in a very bad place and very depressed during that time,” she said.

“It does get depressing at times,” Wedlake said.

Before the pandemic, the people running the Luminary Hotel said they were having a hard time finding people to hire. They expected to interview close to 800 at Thursday’s job fair. Many of those hired will go to work by the end of the month.

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