Thursday, March 19, 2020

Disaster Unemployment Assistance As Potentially Prompt Help for Gig Workers Impacted by Virus

Stephen A. Woodbury, senior economist at the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, has posted a very encouraging short post on possible relief for Gig workers:

Disaster Unemployment Assistance would make these self-employed workers, contract workers, and gig workers eligible to receive UI benefits. It is almost certainly the most effective fiscal policy tool available to the federal government to quickly blunt the economic damage resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.


DUA is normally paid to workers who lose their jobs, but do not qualify for regular UI benefits, following natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and geological disasters like earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The program is initiated by a Presidential disaster declaration and administered by the state UI agencies, which in turn are overseen by the U.S. Department of Labor.


DUA requires no new congressional legislation—it is authorized by the Stafford Act of 1988—and the administrative structure needed to make it run already exists. Because DUA is funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, it side-steps the eligibility problem faced by self-employed workers under the regular state UI program.


A Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) publication on the Stafford Act is here.

Michael C. Duff

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