Gig Workers Still Waiting for Help After 22 Million Jobs Vanish
Steve Simpson thought he was getting ahead of the curve by filing for unemployment insurance right after losing his job in March.
Almost a month later, he’s still stuck in bureaucratic limbo, along with millions of increasingly frustrated Americans. They’re the self-employed entrepreneurs, contractors and gig workers who make up a big chunk of the 21st-century economy.
New data on Thursday showed more than 5 million people filed unemployment claims last week, taking the total over the past month to 22 million. That means the coronavirus has wiped out a whole decade of job gains at an unprecedented pace, in what’s likely the worst rout for the U.S. economy since the Great Depression.
Simpson’s story shows the painful new daily reality behind those numbers, for many of those still left behind, as states scramble to get them help.
“I just paid up everything for April yesterday, and now I have a grand total net worth of $45,” the 52-year-old aviation contractor from Lynchburg, Virginia said in an interview this week. “I can’t go any further without some help. I need it now.”