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Fallout: The Financial Crisis

A safety net for the self-employed

Bob Moon Feb 20, 2009
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Bob Moon: We’ve told you that unemployment claims are at an all-time high. Well, at least some people have benefits coming. If you don’t work for a company, you can fall through that safety net. A group representing independent workers wants to change that situation, as our senior business correspondent, Bob Moon, reports.


Bob Moon: The self-employed and many contract workers are out of luck if their work dries up. That worries Don Bertschman, a freelance writer in Pittsburgh, PA — even though he’s found enough work to get by so far.

Don Bertschman: A month from now, I could have no work — then there is no unemployment insurance.

He’s far from alone, says Sara Horowitz. She heads the New York-based Freelancers Union, which calls itself “a federation of the unaffiliated.”

Sara Horowitz: A third of the workforce is now working freelance, or independently. So we need to update the unemployment system written in the 1930’s.

The group wants Congress to create a rainy day fund for those people.

Horowitz: Savings they put away, and then have a government match so they could use that money for the downtimes.

Writer Don Bertschman says he would definitely rest easier with that kind of plan:

Bertschman: If there was a system set up for freelancers to let them create their own safety net, I would pay into that kind of system.

Many independent workers aren’t eligible now because jobless benefits come from taxing employers.

I’m Bob Moon for Marketplace.

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