Government Aid For The Self-Employed

Posted on 6/4/2020 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Self-employed, freelance photographers are being hit especially hard by the covid 19 pandemic. Most normally work from one short-term job to the next. They tend to be paid by the job, or the project, not a salary. Often these jobs last only a day, or less in terms of hours spent.

When everyone is sheltering in place and much of the country closed down it is impossible for many photographers to find any work at all. The CARES and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) programs have focused on helping salaried employees, not those who are self-employed.

The Freelancers Union, which represents over half a million members released the results of a member survey on May 1 which found that 86% of freelancers had already lost thousands of dollars in wages, and that 84% of the freelancers who had applied for government relief had not received any money.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that in total, in all types of work, about 16 million Americans are self-employed. But, the BLS acknowledges that their survey may under count the self-employed.  Back in 2014 a Pew Research Center analysis determined that self-employed Americans, and the workers they hire, accounted for 44 million U.S. jobs, or 30% of the total workforce.

In the week of May 18, 2020 more than a dozen media and arts organizations, including the National Press Photographers Association, signed a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to express concern for the millions of freelancers and self-employed workers experiencing unprecedented loss.

The letter to Pelosi notes that, “Unfortunately, key elements of the program have resulted in freelancers not qualifying for sufficient assistance, and in some cases being shut out from relief entirely.”

For instance, freelancer applicants who reported earning even a small amount of W-2 income were deemed ineligible for PUA and traditional unemployment insurance. “The systems have not adequately taken into consideration individuals who earn a mix of 1099 and W-2 income, a common scenario for many freelancers,” adds the letter.

What should Congress do now? The letter from the media and arts organizations makes five important suggestions that should be acted on quickly:

    Extend a monthly stimulus payment of $2,000 for up to 12 months to all Americans regardless of citizenship. This idea has been proposed in the so-called Monthly Stimulus Support Act.

    Establish rent and mortgage forgiveness. This idea has been proposed in the Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act.

    Require states to include income for freelancers in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) eligibility determinations.
    Expand PUA to include all workers who’ve been impacted by Covid-19.

    And, finally, extend PUA indefinitely, until the coronavirus crisis ends.

Copyright © 2020 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz


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