Many construction workers set to lose unemployment benefits in June
Twenty GOP-led states plan to cut pandemic aid for nearly one million self-employed workers. These include many housekeepers, dog walkers, and Uber drivers. CBS MoneyWatch reporter Aimee Picchi has been following this story closely. She joins CBSN’s Tanya Rivero in discussing why this is happening and what it means for freelance employees.
TANYA RIVERO: Nearly one million Americans are at risk of losing unemployment assistance in the event of a pandemic next month. That’s two months before the federal funding expires. Aimee Picchi reports that Republican governors of 20 states plan to end all unemployment benefits for performing workers in June. They are independent or independent people.
Aimee is joining me now. She is a reporter for “CBS MoneyWatch”. Hi, Aimee. Happy to see you. So what is the reason given by these governors for ending this federal program early?
AIMEE PICCHI: Hi, Tanya. Yeah, thanks for inviting me to talk about this. So it’s part of a push in those states to end unemployment – unemployment benefits improved quickly. And the reasons they give is because they say employers can’t find workers. We often hear this from restaurants saying they can’t find staff to take care of the restaurants when they reopen and people come back for dinner.
And they also say that we see a lot of job openings in our states. If you want a job, you can get a job. And they’re worried that the improved benefits, which have been around $ 300 more per week, that they’re keeping people away, and instead of wanting to find a job, they’re saying they’re are happy to stay at home. and collect unemployment.
Now there is a lot of debate about it. And economists say there’s not a lot of evidence to show it’s actually happening, that it’s keeping people away. And then the other thing that’s important about performing workers is that last year, when the pandemic hit, Congress passed a new program called the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program, or PUA. , which for the first time gave access to stage workers and self-employed workers. to oneself – to unemployment benefits.
And that’s what comes to an end for those workers in 20 states that have Republican governors. And so, you know, two months ahead of schedule. And the governors gave them four weeks’ notice to say it was ending early, but it’s still two months earlier than they expected it to end. So he caught a lot of it –
TANYA RIVERO: And Aimee …
AIMEE PICCHI: –off guard.
TANYA RIVERO: Yeah, I was going to say, you know, you’ve talked to people who are about to lose their benefits sooner than they expected. You know, I’m going to assume they don’t feel good about it. What did they tell you?
AIMEE PICCHI: Yeah, I’ve talked to a lot of self-employed people. They are very stressed and very worried. You know, first of all, they had planned that this service would go until September. So they’re worried because now they’re saying, OK, we’re trying to find work.
I spoke to a woman who applied for 100 jobs. She had worked as a housekeeper, her own business, for 15 years, and her clients still work remotely. They are therefore not yet ready to hire her again. His income is therefore still declining.
And so she tells me, I looked for work. No one is going to hire me because I don’t have a traditional CV. I am not getting a callback, and now I am facing this loss of income. And this is a very common story that I have heard.
I have also heard from many mothers, especially single mothers, with children under the age of 12 who cannot yet get the vaccine. And their point is that there is still a pandemic going on, our children cannot get vaccinated. Some of them have health issues and are not comfortable sending them back to school or summer camps. And so, they are also lost and do not know what is going to happen. I spoke to a young mother with two children under the age of 12 who is worried about being evicted from her apartment the next month after the end.
TANYA RIVERO: Right. Right. I was going to bring up the fact that women have been so affected by the pandemic because, of course, when the children come home from school, it is often the woman or the mother who has to leave work and stay at home. with the children. And so that doesn’t change this situation. They can’t go back to work because the schools are still great – most of them are still online. And even schools that are not are on the verge of disappearing.
Summer is about to begin, that’s right, so they can’t afford to buy a summer camp or, like you said, don’t feel safe to send their child at summer camp. So they can’t go back to work, even if they want to, if they’re stuck in this child care situation. So I wonder in these circumstances, do these workers have the possibility anyway to ask for this federal assistance? In other words, could the fact that they are entitled to it at the federal level replace the wishes of the governor?
AIMEE PICCHI: No, unfortunately, because even though it’s federal funding – money provided by the federal government, it’s actually managed by the states. And so if the state decides it’s over, that’s about it, unfortunately.
TANYA RIVERO: Mm-hmm.
AIMEE PICCHI: I spoke with the … an official from the Ministry of Labor who told me that they were trying to do whatever they could to figure out how to keep these benefits continuing for these workers. Unfortunately, they haven’t been able to figure out a way to make it work yet. So it’s – it’s a real stress for Administrator Biden – the Biden administration that would like to see these benefits continue until September.
And you are absolutely right about moms. It’s interesting. Many of them told me that if it had lasted until September they would be in a great place because they feel that by then there would probably be vaccines for the younger ones. kids and school would be back and they would be. in a better place. But instead, they’re envisioning a summer without unemployment benefits in these 20 states, and it’s tough. And like you said, there are a million people who are going to lose all of these benefits starting next month.
TANYA RIVERO: And those millions of people vote. So we will see how this materializes. All right, well, Aimee Picchi, thank you very much for joining us. We really appreciate this.
AIMEE PICCHI: Thanks, Tanya.