COMMONWEALTH MAGAZINE: “The coronavirus is expanding the safety net”

BY MICHAEL JONAS  —  APRIL 6, 2020

LIKE MILLIONS OF other US workers, Charlie Burke and Mutwaly Hamid were used to getting up in the morning and putting in long days on the job. But when the coronavirus pandemic shut down huge parts of the economy, they weren’t just left out of work, they were left on their own.

As two of the nearly 9 million US workers considered self-employed or independent contractors, Burke and Hamid had no claim on unemployment benefits and quickly found themselves in an economic free fall. Burke, who runs seminars for sales agents and brokers in the real estate industry, says his income is poised to drop by 90 percent this month. For Hamid, the $1,000 or so a week he was making by driving up to 60 hours for Uber and Lyft has gone overnight to zero, leaving him unable to pay his rent for April.

The pandemic has exposed big holes in the country’s social safety net, openings that millions of people are now falling through. With nearly 10 million people filing unemployment claims in the past two weeks alone, the federal government is mounting an unprecedented emergency expansion of that safety net for workers.”

CONTINUE READING AT COMMONWEALTHMAGAZINE.ORG

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