Help is on the way for Uber, Lyft drivers and other gig workers as economy sputters

Gig workers now quality for government aid

Help is on the way for Uber, Lyft drivers and other gig workers

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Millions of Uber and Lyft drivers and other workers in the gig economy are suffering.

Their business has slowed down due to the crisis, which means so has their cash flow.

Gig workers didn't qualify for unemployment benefits until recently.

But now help is on the way.

The gig economy has changed everyday life for a lot of people, letting them earn extra cash with flexible hours and giving consumers more choices for transportation and delivery.

Here’s Michael Goldberg, executive director of the Veale Institute for Entrepreneurship at Case Western Reserve University.

“All of the things we sort of loved about the gig economy, both as customers of it and watching friends who wanted more flexible schedules to participate in it, there was a lot to love. Certainly if you're an AirBnB, you know owner of a property and it's sitting empty these are difficult times right now,” Goldberg said.

Until the stimulus package, known as the CARES Act, gig workers weren't getting any help as business ground to a halt because of the coronavirus crisis.

They're considered independent contractors, not full time employees.

Now, they qualify for weekly aid from the government.

But the Washington Post reports it could take weeks or more before gig workers get any relief.

They say in California, Illinois, Washington and a number of other states, unemployment offices aren't ready to start processing their claims.

Even with these tough times, Goldberg thinks gig workers will bounce back.

“That shift in the economy, we’re not going back, so I think hey, when we get through this people are going to be renting out rooms again and sharing their vehicles and participating in opportunities. So I don’t think there’s any necessarily turning back on the gig economy, I think it was such a shock to the system of many folks that were participating in it that saw this as their full time job. And there really isn’t a nice safety net, although some of the programs may be addressing and supporting them,” Goldberg said.

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