Connect with us


Gig worker’s tale: Economy craters, pet groomer hopes to land on feet



JD Harrison has been struggling to get by since COVID-19 has kept Georgians away from non-essential services like pet grooming. Thursday’s jobless report from the U.S. Department of Labor will provide a new count of out-of-work Georgians. Photo credit: Perfect Paws Mobile Grooming,

Monday was JD Harrison’s birthday, but he didn’t have much cause for celebration.

“I’m not getting by, realistically speaking,” he said. “I don’t want to embarrass myself, but I’m not getting by.”

At the start of the year, Harrison was making $8,000 to $12,000 a month between his Smyrna-based mobile dog grooming business, Perfect Paws, and driving for Uber and Lyft on the side.

Now, he said he’s making closer to $4,000, and his payments come from the Georgia Department of Labor.

Harrison is one of nearly 1.8 million Georgians to apply for unemployment since COVID-19 began shutting down businesses in March.

That grim toll increases every Thursday lately, when the U.S. Department of Labor releases Georgia’s weekly jobless reports, documenting the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

Harrison said he started to notice business slowing down in late February, but calls came to a complete stop in March, around the same time pink slips began going out en masse across Georgia. During the week ending March 21, the number of Georgians filing new unemployment claims more than doubled.

“Business was so slow in March that eviction was inevitable,” Harrison said. “Between February and March, business was just insanely, ridiculously slow.”

That initial wave of layoffs was felt most intensely by workers in the restaurant, convention and hospitality industries, all of which are major components of Georgia’s economy. Now layoffs are spread much more widely, affecting office workers and manufacturers. On Tuesday, 300 employees of the Czarnowski marketing firm in Austell were added to the state’s Business Layoff/Closure Listing website. Atlanta’s Cox Automotive just announced it plans to furlough 12,500 workers this month.

Harrison applied for unemployment benefits in March, but at that time, the state Department of Labor was not set up to pay benefits to gig workers and independent contractors like him. That only became possible after the president signed the federal CARES Act in late March.

“The state of Georgia unemployment basically said, ‘OK, gig workers, we don’t have the system set up for you, we’re making it from scratch, so just accept holding on until April 22. You’ll be sent an email if you were denied unemployment for pandemic unemployment.’”

That’s what happened for Harrison – he said he got his email around April 22.

“After that, it took maybe two weeks for everything to get started to go through, but just think of having a 70% income drop from mid-February to April,” he said.

With scarcely any money coming in, Harrison lost his Atlanta apartment. He’s temporarily staying at an Airbnb until he can arrange something permanent.

Harrison said he’s not even trying to drive for Uber and Lyft right now because he does not want to risk getting sick. He’s still accepting clients for pet grooming, but finding few takers. Georgia’s close-contact businesses were among the first to reopen as part of Gov. Brian Kemp’s recovery plan, but not many Georgians are making a pets’ hair styling a high priority, Harrison said. 

“Grooming, I can pretty much control. I can control what clients I see, when, what kind of contact I have with them,” he said. “But if they don’t have the money to afford the luxuries us Americans love to say we have, when we can’t afford the luxuries, the people that provide the luxuries go out of business.”

Harrison is one of nearly 886,000 Georgians who filed continuing claims in the most recent reporting period, about 17% of the state’s March civilian labor force.

Continuing claims follow the first week of unemployment coverage, and they are a good measure of the state’s economic recovery, said Rajeev Dhawan, director of the Georgia State University Economic Forecasting Center.

“They tell you the extent of the labor market damage that is going on,” Dhawan said. “People on continuing claims means they’ve been unemployed and they’ve been getting the insurance, they haven’t found a job and they haven’t been recalled if they’ve been furloughed. That tells you the ongoing damage.”

Speaking at a press conference following the release of last week’s numbers, Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler predicted more bad news to come.

“I have a gut feeling when you see the numbers that are coming after this week, it’s going to be startling,” he said. “You’re going to probably see us eclipse the $3 billion mark, for the monies that we’ve sent out to help people here.”

Source link


Oxygen chooss CPI for gig economy debit cards




CPI Card Group Inc. (OTCQX: PMTS, TSX: PMTS) (“CPI” or the “Company”), a payment technology company and leading provider of credit, debit and prepaid solutions, today announced a collaboration with Oxygen, the first digital banking platform tailored to meet the unique needs of the freelance economy.

Oxygen selected CPI to develop its first personal and business debit cards – tapping the Company’s card manufacturing experience and advanced print design services to create a payment product that embodies Oxygen’s unique financial market positioning.

Oxygen provides flexible banking to the millions of U.S. professionals who thrive on multiple income streams, contract work and freelance gigs. The company’s solutions are available through a mobile app that enables a fast, frictionless user experience. Oxygen takes a holistic approach to meeting the financial services needs of independent professionals. In CPI, Oxygen found a card manufacturer that could create a payment solution from end to end. CPI and Oxygen collaborated to develop two packages with clean and crisply-designed vertical cards that arrive nested in interactive packaging. Back-of-card personalization completes the high-end look and feel.

“At Oxygen, we understand that the physical brand experience, – including everything from the card design to the packaging appearance – matters for our creative, tech-savvy clientele. With CPI’s cost-effective scale and design strengths, we were able to deliver a sleek card to customers in a unique, memorable fashion,” said Hussein Ahmed, founder and CEO at Oxygen. “We are pleased to have such a reliable secure card provider and are thrilled to offer customers an eye-catching debit card that echoes their drive, ambition and lifestyle.”

Through CPI’s advanced personalization capabilities and packaging options, financial institutions can develop differentiated card programs that deliver a premium cardholder experience. The Company provides end-to-end support and customizability that allow businesses to create tailored products that bridge the digital and physical worlds for their brands. Additionally, CPI’s innovative manufacturing approach empowers companies to introduce exciting card designs and technology features, which can offer a competitive edge in the pursuit of top-of-wallet status.

“CPI and Oxygen share in being deeply customer-centric in everything we do. We are excited to leverage our manufacturing strengths and high-quality print and design services to achieve debit cards that match the modern, sophisticated aesthetic of Oxygen’s brand and its clients,” said Guy DiMaggio, SVP and General Manager, Secure Card Solutions, CPI Card Group. “We look forward to supporting more fintech innovators and pioneers in creating payment cards that expand the physical aspect of their brands.”  

Source link

Continue Reading


How Covid-19 has affected the gig economy in South Africa




/ MEDIA STATEMENT / This content is not written by Creamer Media, but is a supplied media statement.

A report by The Fairwork Project – a collaboration between various South African and foreign university research units – has found that the non-standard employment status of gig workers during Covid-19 has made them particularly vulnerable during an economic shutdown. However, some gig networking platforms have stepped up to ease the pain.

Fairwork, which draws on the expertise of staff from the universities of Oxford, Cape Town, Western Cape, Manchester, Institute of Information Technology Bangalore in India and the Technical University of Berlin, wrote a report titled Gig Workers, Platforms and Government During Covid-19, which was released in May 2020.

The report looked at gig economy platforms active in South Africa, government responses  regarding informal, freelance or gig economy workers, and actual worker experience surveys. While most platforms regarded workers as independent contracts rather than employees, to their detriment, the report found that gig technology company, M4Jam and SweepSouth actively worked to offset looses of income for contracted giggers.

The report compiled a scorecard which covered principles of fair pay, fair working conditions, fair contracts, fair management and fair representation. The scorecard specifically highlighted pay-related policies, given their importance to gig workers.

The scorecard found that three of the top-ranking platforms – M4Jam, SweepSouth and getTOD – had come up with innovative solutions to the problems their workers faced during Covid-19 and lockdown. M4Jam and SweepSouth were the only platforms to attempt to compensate for gig worker pay loss during lockdown.

“Our survey suggests the majority of gig workers have lost their jobs entirely, while those able to work during lockdown have, on average, lost four-fifths of their income. As a result, many reported that just getting food to eat was their top priority,” the researchers note.

“While [gig economy] platforms have long marketed themselves as facilitators of supplementary income streams, all of this exposes the complete dependency of most workers on their platforms as the basis for their livelihood,” they wrote.

The report stated that gig economy platforms, which operate by connecting jobbers with potential temporary work at corporate entities, should and could do more to help, by such measures as reducing commissions, deferring loans, offering healthcare assistance and sick pay, improving communication and engaging with workers and their representatives more effectively.

Georgie Midgley, CEO of M4Jam, said the report’s finding that inaction on behalf of gig platforms was the norm gave credence to common criticism of the gig economy. “Unfortunately most gig economy platforms live up to negative perceptions about jobber vulnerability. In a country like South Africa where the gig economy can play a vital role in supplementing income and providing much-needed temporary employment, the down side is potential exploitation of workers who do not have the safety net permanent employees have.”

Gig workers have tended to fall between the cracks of government financial relief measures, according to the report, principally because they fall outside the UIF net. “Gig workers have fallen between two stools: able to access neither the [government] support offered to formal employees, nor the support offered to those registered as small businesses. If gig workers are to avoid destitution, government must take further action,” the researchers said.

At the same time, the report said, the value of gig workers to the economy has been underlined by Covid-19 and lockdown. “Delivery services, for example, have been essential to society during lockdown. In the longer term, a legal resolution must be found to rescue gig workers from the employment-status limbo that the pandemic has brought into sharp relief.”

The report found, for example, that both Uber and Bolt ride-hailing services had closed down their local contact centres, “making it harder for drivers to interact with the platforms”. A constant criticism of gig economy platforms is that they simply cannot provide protection of workers’ rights in the same way that the formal economy’s employers do.

With lockdown preventing physical movement of jobbers completing micro-tasks for corporate employers, the report commended M4Jam’s approach of collaborating with one of its clients, Cell C, in rolling out a three-week training initiative that provided payment to workers for completing up to 48 short lessons undertaking via their mobile phones.

This provided further upskilling of contracted jobbers during the down time, and provided an average of R310 per week for those undergoing the training. M4Jam works with corporate clients such as Morecorp, i-People, Twizza, Sereti and more.

The research found that the trends in South Africa broadly reflected gig economy trends around the world, with roughly half of gig workers losing their “jobs” during lockdown. 

“We agree with the report’s findings that if gig economy platforms direct and exercise control over the work given to contracted jobbers, they should go to greater lengths to be responsible for assisting workers in dealing with the effects of Covid-19. This will not only maintain goodwill with contracted workers and ensure livelihoods are not lost – it will also show that the gig economy is a viable long-term alternative for job seekers who cannot get a foothold in the formal economy,” said Midgley.

Source link

Continue Reading


Gig economy battle spans unemployment benefits (NYSE:UBER)




The $2.2T coronavirus relief law enacted in March extended unemployment benefits to previously ineligible groups, like the self-employed and independent contractors.

However, some Uber (NYSE:UBER) and Lyft (NASDAQ:LYFT) drivers are nervous about tapping the program out of fear it would certify them as independent contractors, and undermine their fight to be classified as employees.

While some labor attorneys believe their concern is valid, others think the threat is overblown.

California passed a law last year requiring gig companies to treat independent contractors as employees, and other states, like New York, are attempting to follow suit. California’s AB5 law took effect in January, but is being challenged in court.

Source link

Continue Reading


Copyright © 2019