For the self-employed, a confusing path to benefits as they lose income to COVID-19
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Update: For many states, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, for which the self-employed now qualify through the end of July, is still unavailable.
Per Vox: “Washington, Massachusetts, Georgia, and Alabama are among the states already accepting PUA applications, but many other states haven’t yet announced the dates for when they’ll have their program set up and ready for workers to file.
“The best way to find out how to apply for your state’s PUA program — what the status of it is — is to visit your state’s unemployment website.“
For self-employed workers, the path to getting benefits for lost work due to the COVID-19 pandemic is especially confusing. This includes people who receive income reported on federal 1099 forms, independent contractors, freelancers, gig workers — and sole proprietors who are themselves their one and only employee.
Brooke Wetzel runs her own florist business in Los Angeles. She works alone, and since mid-March she’s had no orders and no income. She’s been looking for help from federal and state programs.
“The information’s super-confusing,” Wetzel said. “We apply for this, we don’t qualify for this or that.”
She applied for unemployment, but received a letter in the mail that said her “award was zero.”
Self-employed workers are eligible for new federal pandemic unemployment benefits, but California’s website says people can’t apply until later this month.
Congress’ Paycheck Protection Program is providing small business loans that can be forgiven if the money’s used to keep paying employees.
That program ran out of money last week. But Katie Vlietstra at the National Association for the Self-Employed says if the Paycheck Protection Program funded again, self-employed people will be eligible.
“If you’re using it for payroll and ancillary expenses, it will be forgiven,” Vlietstra said.
But, she adds, business owners should document every penny they spend on salary and expenses, just in case.
COVID-19 Economy FAQs
How many people are flying? Has traveled picked up?
Flying is starting to recover to levels the airline industry hasn’t seen in months. The Transportation Security Administration announced on Oct. 19 that it’s screened more than 1 million passengers on a single day — its highest number since March 17. The TSA also screened more than 6 million passengers last week, its highest weekly volume since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. While travel is improving, the TSA announcement comes amid warnings that the U.S. is in the third wave of the coronavirus. There are now more than 8 million cases in the country, with more than 219,000 deaths.
How are Americans feeling about their finances?
Nearly half of all Americans would have trouble paying for an unexpected $250 bill and a third of Americans have less income than before the pandemic, according to the latest results of our Marketplace-Edison Poll. Also, 6 in 10 Americans think that race has at least some impact on an individual’s long-term financial situation, but Black respondents are much more likely to think that race has a big impact on a person’s long-term financial situation than white or Hispanic/Latinx respondents.
Find the rest of the poll results here, which cover how Americans have been faring financially about six months into the pandemic, race and equity within the workplace and some of the key issues Trump and Biden supporters are concerned about.
What’s going to happen to retailers, especially with the holiday shopping season approaching?
A report out recently from the accounting consultancy BDO USA said 29 big retailers filed for bankruptcy protection through August. And if bankruptcies continue at that pace, the number could rival the bankruptcies of 2010, after the Great Recession. For retailers, the last three months of this year will be even more critical than usual for their survival as they look for some hope around the holidays.
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