Owners of closed businesses, workers off job send out mayday as monthly bills come due

Posted April 30, 2020 8:02 p.m. EDT

— More than 935,000 people in North Carolina – almost a tenth of the state's population – have filed for unemployment benefits in the last six weeks as the coronavirus pandemic has shut down the economy.

For many business owners who have closed up shop and many workers off the job, the calendar has become a source of serious stress. A new month brings more bills that many just can’t pay.

"I have been crying a little bit this morning," Cassandra Wycko said in a recent online video.

Wycko owns Turn Me Loose Fitness in Raleigh, which has been closed for weeks under stay-at-home orders that prohibit large gatherings and require social distancing, Although she has done some sales online, she said her business is down 95 percent from February.

She has applied for government aid, but she doesn't think she will be getting any. So, she has to figure out how to pay the studio's rent and utilities for May.

"If we have to, we are going to hit savings,” Wycko said Thursday, noting that includes her daughter’s money for college as well as her personal savings.

Her landlord is working with her on the rent, she said.

Wycko said she knows the pandemic is hurting others as well, noting that she sees it when she runs a credit card from an online sale.

"Seeing how many are insufficient funds coming through for just $9.99, I feel something for those people. It blows my mind,” she said. "Just a small amount, it is reflective of what is going right now with everybody, and it breaks my heart."

Corrine Baillie, a restaurant worker off the job, is one of those people being squeezed by monthly expenses and no income.

"I have a car payment. I pay for college every six months. I have utility bills piling up and water, food," Baillie said.

She said she doesn't think she can make the rent on her apartment for the next month and will likely have to move out. She said she has tried to apply for unemployment benefits but has been having trouble getting through.

"It is a lot to deal with, and there is not a particular way to deal with it," Baillie said. "I have been reading my Bible, and that is helping me out a little bit."

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