(The Center Square) – California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced new programs Thursday that he says are designed to help the state's businesses and their employees recover from the fallout of response to the novel coronavirus.
The announcement came on the same day the U.S. Department of Labor released new data showing more than 6.6. million Americans filed for unemployment benefits for the week ending March 28.
California saw the most number of claims filed for the week with 878,727. That's up 692,394 over the prior week, when 186,333 unemployment claims were filed.
"March 12 of this year, we started to see applications for unemployment insurance here in the state of California skyrocket," Newsom said. "Now more than 1.9 million Californians alone since March 12 have filed for unemployment insurance."
California has been under a stay at home order and non-essential businesses forced to close their doors to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Noting that "the economic consequences" of those actions "are profound," Newsom said the state will allow small businesses to keep up to $50,000 in sales taxes as an interest and penalty free bridge loan for 12 months. The governor said that 49 percent of all private sector employees work at small businesses.
He also said the state has created a disaster injury fund for which businesses can apply for up to $2 million, but as applications are being processed they can access a $10,000 loan upfront. Details about the progra will be available at COVID19.ca.gov.
And Newsom referenced aspects of the federal stimulus bill passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump that makes available up to $10 million in loans if the businesses continue to pay their employees. Friday is the first for businesses to begin applying.
As of Thursday, a little more than 10,000 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the state and 215 deaths.
Newsom also announced a new website created by Bitwise, in partnership with Linkedin and SalesForce. OnwardCA.org will match job creators who are still hiring with workers who have lost their jobs based on skills sets, geographic locations, wage requirements and other factors.
"Already 70,000 open jobs are listed on their site," he said. "We'll probably 100,000 plus thousand jobs in just the next couple of days."