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'We Can't Take Your Call': Uber Drivers, Other Gig Workers Struggle For Unemployment

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The uber drivers to Airbnb hosts that dog walkers they are the millions of people who make a living from gig work thanks to a massive federal relief package they are temporarily eligible for unemployment benefits but the unemployment system was not built for gig work and so many states are struggling to help this new class of workers NPR tech correspondent Shannon bond reports many of them are still waiting for their money Michael o'dell as a jazz musician in Columbus Ohio but music doesn't pay the bills so he drives for lift in Newburgh in since the pandemic hit he only goes out when he needs cash right away I definitely don't put the time into it like I normally do because I'm not going to get good rights unemployment benefits should be a lifeline for gig workers like him but dell hasn't seen a check yet I've been applying every week and every single week I get the night like regular unemployment denied because lift and uber don't consider themselves his employer they say there are millions of drivers are independent contractors who choose when and how much to work that's how many apps operate and that means they don't do what a normal employer does Jay Shambaugh a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution explains normally if you're eligible for unemployment insurance it's because your employer has been paying into the insurance system and it's part of paying in their reporting earnings gig workers have to show proof of their earnings so the state knows how much to give them an unemployment benefits and Gemma says most states have to set up systems to process those claims that's been the big hold up figuring out how they track who is supposed to get this money it's been more than seven weeks since Congress made gig workers eligible for unemployment and according to Brookings thirty nine states are now processing those claims but even those who got their claims in really early are still waiting like lift driver Jerome gauge in Los Angeles he applied for unemployment in early March make sure that all on your reported earnings looking over your reward is zero dollars because you don't think that your employee earning their knowledge days appealed he's still

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