As millions of Americans are laid off or furloughed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, there are some important facts for unemployed workers to consider. On March 27, President Donald Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, which expands eligibility for unemployment insurance and boosts benefits for impacted workers. 

Unemployment works on a state level, which means a laid-off worker will need to call or contact their state’s unemployment office online in order to receive benefits. 

State governments use various formulas to determine how much a worker will get, which is typically based on prior income. The CARES Act will add $600 per week on top of that base amount through July 31 and will provide 13 weeks of benefits in addition to what each state provides. 

The website for CareerNonStop, which is sponsored by the Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, has links and information about unemployment benefits in each state. 

The CARES Act also expands unemployment insurance to gig and self-employed workers who have lost their jobs due to coronavirus, although some states have yet to allow these workers to apply for benefits. The legislation will grant benefits to hourly workers who have had their hours cut, along with workers who are forced to self-quarantine amid the pandemic. 

Those employees who are currently on sick or paid leave are not eligible for benefits, along with workers who can still work from home while being paid. 

Applying for benefits has become a challenge with more than 3 million people on state unemployment sites that have caused systems to crash. The Wall Street Journal noted that New York state's unemployment-claims hotline had 8.2 million calls in the last week of March compared to its typical 50,000, while the website had 3.4 million visits.

There is more financial relief coming, as well. Those who filed tax returns in 2018 or 2019, and earned less than $99,000 or $198,000 as a couple filing jointly, can qualify for an economic impact payment of $1,200.

The coronavirus has had a massive impact on the American economy, as the majority of the U.S. population is under stay-at-home orders, with non-essential businesses closed across the country.

As of Saturday at 11:15 a.m. ET, there are 278,298 cases of coronavirus in the United States, with the domestic death toll at 7,155.