A story behind the staggering jobless rates

WWNY A story behind the staggering jobless rates

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Unemployment skyrockets in the north country. Behind those numbers are people - your friends and neighbors.

One of them, Kristan Donoghue, used to work at Pete’s Trattoria in Watertown.

She was a server and bartender, but back in March, the owner had to make a tough decision to lay off the employees and shut down temporarily.

"How am I going to survive," Donoghue says she asked herself.

She says she filed for unemployment to support her family and knows she's one of thousands to do so.

"I know quite a few people who are still unemployed, still ready to go back to work in each phase. So we are all just kind of in a limbo right now, just kind of waiting for everything to open back up," she said.

According to the state, Jefferson County's unemployment rate soared to 16.9 percent in April. Lewis County rose to 14.4 percent, while St. Lawrence County hit 14 percent - all higher than previous recession unemployment rates.

"We knew April was going to be absolutely out of this world and that's because New York was on pause," said Cheryl Mayforth with The WorkPlace of Jefferson County.

She says it will be August, after all 4 phases are complete, before we get an accurate number of just how many people are out of work.

"These people are our neighbors and our family members and community members. We don't know how all of that will wash out, so we are going to be in for kind of a rough summer," said Mayforth.

But things may be looking up for Donoghue.

Right now, restaurants are set to re-open in phase 3, but Donoghue says she will be back to work Monday to assist with Pete's new to-go service.

“It’s one step in the right direction,” she said.

Copyright 2020 WWNY. All rights reserved.