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Almost 1 in 4 of the Louisiana workforce, counting gig workers, are filing for unemployment | Business News

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Recent news analyses have sketched out a dire picture of the scope of the jobless crisis in Louisiana and the extent of the expected damage that the state’s economy as the federal boost to unemployment benefits lapses.

But the true picture is actually worse than some of those reports have outlined. For instance, a Sunday story in The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate noted that more than 313,000 laid-off Louisianans had filed for state unemployment benefits as of July 18, the most recent data for which the state provided complete data. But that figure didn’t include the thousands of freelancers, independent contractors and so-called “gig” workers thrown out of jobs by the coronavirus crisis.

That latter group includes more than 152,000 out-of-work Louisianans who, although not normally covered by the unemployment insurance system, have been able to file for jobless benefits under a special federal expansion of the program to address the massive job losses during the pandemic.

A major lifeline of federal aid to more than 300,000 laid-off Louisianans during the coronavirus crisis, the extra $600 federal boost to every…

Added together, that works out to about 465,000 out-of-work Louisianans — or nearly a quarter of the state’s total labor force — who have filed continued claims for unemployment benefits. All are now in line for a $600-per-week cut in income after the federal boost to unemployment, passed by Congress in March, expired at the end of last week. For most of those people, that will be a loss of at least 70% of their income.

The now-expired $600 federal boost to benefits injected a total of as much as $270 million each week into the Louisiana economy.

“It’s an enormous income loss that has started now,” said Jan Moller, executive director of the Louisiana Budget Project, a left-leaning nonprofit that advocates for working Louisiana families. “There are not half a million jobs for people to go back to. Not even remotely close.”

While the data suggest nearly 1 in 4 working Louisianans is about to take a major financial hit, that pain won’t be spread evenly on a geographic basis. A March analysis by the Brookings Institution predicted that New Orleans would be the third-hardest hit of 106 large U.S. metro areas, thanks largely to the city’s dependence on tourism.

As predicted, the pandemic prompted a freefall in air travel, led to the cancellation of numerous major festivals and conventions, and forced bars, restaurants and hotels — the biggest employers in the area by far — to dramatically scale back operations or shutter entirely.

Later this week, hundreds of thousands of Louisianans who lost their jobs in the pandemic will see their unemployment benefit checks slashed b…

As of June, the latest figures available, the number of total jobs in the New Orleans area was down 13.7% from February levels. Those numbers were down across the state, of course: the drop was 10.5% in the Baton Rouge area and 5.4% in Lafayette, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. The picture appears to have only worsened since then, at least based on weekly initial unemployment claims, which after falling in May and June began ticking back upward throughout July.

Claims from Orleans, Jefferson and St. Tammany account for nearly a third of the state’s total unemployment claims.

Businesses that cater to travelers now face a deeply uncertain future. The coronavirus’ resurgence has cast doubt over the future of the tourism industry, and a growing number of major employers in that sector — casinos and large hotels — have filed notices with the state warning of mass layoffs, an indication that mass furloughs in March and April are likely to turn into permanent job cuts. The accommodation and food service sectors have seen by far the steepest job losses, both statewide and in the New Orleans area, followed by retail.

“Those two sectors alone count for more than 50% of the job losses that we’ve seen in the last couple of months,” said Gary Wagner, an economics professor at the University of Louisiana Lafayette, during the Acadiana Advocate’s virtual economic outlook panel Wednesday morning.

Workers in the hospitality industry in particular tend to earn lower wages, live paycheck to paycheck, leaving many out-of-work families with little cushion to ride out unemployment. While some in this sector actually got a brief boost in pay from the $600 weekly unemployment supplement, they’re unlikely to have much in the way of savings to draw on when that stipend is cut.

“It’s going to have a generational impact on a lot of households,” said Moller.

Hundreds of thousands of Louisianans who’ve lost their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic have continued to receive sizable weekly checks, t…

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Labor of Law: McDonald’s Confronts Ousted CEO | New Gig Ruling in California | Covid-19 Headlines: Returning to Work | Who Got the Work

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The extra $600 in weekly unemployment benefits expired — but gig workers and self-employed Americans still qualify for benefits

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For the first time during the pandemic, weekly jobless claims dipped below 1 million, but there are likely many more Americans who qualify for unemployment benefits who didn’t apply.

When the $2 trillion CARES Act passed in March, self-employed, independent contractors, gig workers and other nontraditional workers became eligible for unemployment benefits. Even though the federally-funded $600 a week in enhanced unemployment benefits, which was also part of the CARES Act, expired on July 31, these types of workers can still collect state-level unemployment benefits through the end of the year.


‘There is definitely a chance that the loss of the $600 is changing claimant behavior’


— Michele Evermore, a senior policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project

This nuance may have been lost in translation when the $600 benefit expired, said Michele Evermore, a senior policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project, an advocacy organization focused on workers’ rights.

“There is definitely a chance that the loss of the $600 is changing claimant behavior,” she said, meaning that unemployed workers may have wrongly assumed that they would no longer be eligible for unemployment benefits after July 31. A total of 10 million Americans have already been approved for unemployment benefits who otherwise would have been ineligible if not for the CARES Act, Evermore said.

Unemployment benefits are based on how much money a worker earned while they were employed. For traditional salaried workers, that amount gets automatically reported to state workforce agencies. But self-employed and gig workers often lack the ability to provide an exact net earnings amount, Evermore said.

“But if they can prove that they worked and got income or were offered a job and that job offer was rescinded due to COVID-19,” she said, they can collect what amounts to half of the average weekly unemployment benefit in their state.


In all 50 states and Washington D.C., the minimum amount is over $100 a week

In many cases that will enable them to collect more in unemployment benefits than they would if they had a traditional job where their earnings were reported automatically, Evermore told MarketWatch.

At a minimum, gig workers, independent contractors and other self-employed workers can collect the equivalent of the average weekly benefit in their state. In all 50 states and Washington D.C., the minimum amount is over $100 a week, according to the Department of Labor. That’s especially important because it means these types of workers will be eligible for an additional $300 a week under President Donald Trump’s executive order. (Anyone who gets at least $100 in unemployment benefits from their state would qualify for the extra $300.)

However, it could be some time before these workers actually get those benefits. State governors have said that state workforce agencies are not properly equipped to quickly implement the changes Trump’s executive order calls for.

Evermore said she hopes that Congress will consider extending the period of time gig and self-employed workers can collect unemployment benefits, but she is “worried we will reach a deadlock on this in December like we are seeing now with the $600.”

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DoorDash: Injunction In CA Over Gig Worker Status

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DoorDash, the San Francisco-based prepared food delivery service, could be the latest gig company to face an injunction to treat its workers as employees, not independent contractors.

The Financial Times reported San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin has filed for a preliminary injunction against the country’s largest food delivery service that would require the company to reclassify its workers as employees.

“We are seeking an immediate end to DoorDash’s illegal behavior of failing to provide delivery workers with basic workplace protections,” Boudin said in a statement. “All three branches of California’s government have already made clear that these workers are employees under California law and entitled to these important safeguards.”

If Boudin’s request is approved by the court, the ruling would apply to DoorDash workers in California. A reclassification of workers would mean gig workers with healthcare benefits, sick pay, paid leave and other benefits not currently available to them.

“In the midst of one of the deepest economic recessions in our nation’s history, today’s action by the district attorney threatens billions of dollars in earnings for California Dashers and revenue for restaurants that rely upon sales from delivery to keep their businesses open,” DoorDash told FT in a statement.

The action against DoorDash comes days after a California judge granted a similar injunction against Uber and Lyft at the request of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

On Monday (Aug. 10), California Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman said the ride-share companies have until August 20 to reclassify their drivers. The companies are expected to appeal. The injunction requires Uber and Lyft to stop classifying their drivers as independent contractors pending further action by the court.

In response, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told MSNBC this week that it may have to close temporarily.

“If the court doesn’t reconsider, then in California, it’s hard to believe we’ll be able to switch our model to full-time employment quickly,” she told the network.

Like Uber and Lyft, DoorDash said most of its workers prefer to be contractors, arguing that flexibility over working hours and location is impossible under an employee model.

In November, voters will be asked to approve Proposition 22, a ballot question that would repeal the gig law.

FT reported DoorDash has contributed $30 million to a joint fund supporting the ballot initiative. Uber and Lyft have each put in the same amount, along with contributions from other gig economy groups. The total backing for the “Yes on 22” campaign now stands at more than $110 million, the newspaper reported.

The opposition has only raised $1.6 million, according to the filings with the state of California.

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New PYMNTS Report: The CFO’s Guide To Digitizing B2B Payments – August 2020 

The CFO’s Guide To Digitizing B2B Payments, a PYMNTS and Comdata collaboration, examines how companies are updating their AP approaches to protect their cash flows, support their vendors and enable their financial departments to operate remotely.



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