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With at least 30,000 Utahns now out of work, financial experts share how to spend smart

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The stock market recently suffered its worst quarterly performance since the Great Recession, and now nearly 30,000 Utahns are out of work, with the state's economy slowing to a crawl. (Photo: KUTV)

The stock market recently suffered its worst quarterly performance since the Great Recession, and now nearly 30,000 Utahns are out of work, with the state's economy slowing to a crawl.

Financial experts say we're in "unheard of territory" economically right now, but offered some advice for how you can best spend during the pandemic.

"Things are down 25, 30 percent," said Dan Loose, a financial planner. "That's very difficult to come back from."

"There’s no way an economy could be prepared for having a period of basically being shut down for two months," said Dean Baker, a visiting economic professor at the University of Utah. "It doesn’t matter how strong it is."

The unemployment numbers we'll see in April will likely be unprecedented.

"We're going to see a loss of perhaps 20 or 30 million jobs," Baker told 2News.

Both federal and state governments are trying to help, offering loans for businesses, potential debt and mortgage relief, and promising at least $1,200 to every American adult.

So, how should you prioritize where that money goes?

"Well, if you don't have six months of reserve, I would tell them to spend it very cautiously," Baker said. "They need to be buying food with it and taking care of their families with it.

In prior recessions, the goal of a stimulus package was to motivate people to spend money. That's not the goal here, Baker said.

The primary focus should be on four things: Shelter, food, clothing, and transportation.

"We actually don’t want people to buy things now," he said. "What we really want is for people to hunker down, make sure they have the necessities, and go out as little as possible."

Baker also advised people be up front with their creditors about their situation. Call them and let them know if you can't repay.

As part of the stimulus package, more Americans are now eligible for unemployment than ever before. Independent contractors and gig economy workers can now qualify for unemployment insurance.

Things might look bad now, but both financial experts told 2News they expect the U.S. to get through this economic downturn and back to a thriving economy.

"I’m very confident that things will get better," Loose said.

Most people will qualify for the promised stimulus check, as long as they've filed income tax returns.

People who receive social security benefits need not worry about filing for or requesting the stimulus aid. The Social Security Administration said the IRS will use SSA-1099s for beneficiaries who haven't filed.

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