WASHINGTON (AP) — This spring, Magdalena Valiente was expecting her best year as a Florida-based concert promoter. Now, she wonders if the career she built over three decades is over.
Back in March, Valiente had been busy planning three tours and 42 live events, including concerts for the Panamanian reggaeton star Sech and the Miami Latin pop band Bacilos. Earning well over six figures during good years, Valiente was hoping to help her youngest son, a high school junior, pay his way through college.
But with live events canceled, things have turned bleak. She is relying on unemployment benefits and Medicaid and has applied for food stamps. She has lost hope that the crisis will end soon.
“I worked up from the very bottom when I started in this business in my twenties,” said Valiente, a single mother in Fort Lauderdale. “There weren’t many other women, and it was hard. It’s not easy to let it go.”
Millions of Americans in the industries hit hardest by the viral pandemic face a similar plight. Their unemployment has stretched from weeks into months, and it’s become painfully unclear when, if ever, their jobs will come back. In the entertainment field where Valiente worked and in other sectors that absorbed heavy job losses — from restaurants and hotels to energy, higher education and advertising — employment remains far below pre-pandemic levels.
These trends have raised the specter of a period of widespread long-term unemployment that could turn the viral recession into a more painful, extended downturn. People who have been jobless for six months or longer — one definition of long-term unemployment — typically suffer an erosion of skills and professional networks that makes it harder to find a new job. Many will need training or education to find work with a new