Many Gig Workers Still Await Aid as Jobless Claims Rise

By: - May 7, 2020 12:00 am

Day laborers in Pasadena, California, protest exclusion from unemployment benefits. Self-employed workers are joining the crush of jobless claims in many states as computer systems buckle under the strain. Damian Dovarganes/The Associated Press

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Connecticut and Illinois plan to start accepting jobless claims from gig workers and other self-employed residents who have been waiting weeks for help, amid rising concerns about computer systems already buckling under the strain of new claims.

Other states also have struggled to adapt aging technology to handle a crush of jobless claims, including the self-employed who were granted help by the CARES Act that Congress enacted in March. More than half of states have reported computer failures that held up payments, and in states such as Pennsylvania the self-employed have not yet been paid after applying.

Hawaii’s technology is so antiquated that the state is considering asking Idaho, which has a more modern cloud-based system, for help moving records from its 1980s-era computer system.

Jobless claim numbers released today show another 3.2 million Americans sought help last week, bringing the total to more than 33 million over seven weeks. There could be millions more unable to apply because of computer failures and other difficulties.

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Tim Henderson
Tim Henderson

Tim Henderson covers demographics for Stateline. He has been a reporter at the Miami Herald, the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Journal News.