Confusion for unemployed freelance workers

Another 5.2 million Americans filed for unemployment, bringing the total to roughly 22 million who have sought jobless benefits since the beginning of the pandemic.

And now, there’s confusion about who can collect benefits.

"Unemployment has been a very frustrating process," said Paul Lebo, an event planner with Eye To Eye Entertainment in Fairfield, New Jersey.

After weeks of trying to navigate his state’s labor department application process, he got a message back.

"I just received the email today saying that I am not eligible and there may be other programs for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance," he said.

Lebo’s denial is part of a complicated and confusing process -- especially for many freelance and so-called "gig workers."

The New Jersey Department of Labor tells FOX 5 News: "Though it sounds counterintuitive, the first step to getting PUA for self-employed workers is being denied by the state unemployment system through our application."

The agency told FOX 5 News that it was still waiting for further guidance from the federal government.

That’s not what Lebo wanted to hear.

"There’s no immediate assistance. There’s no help. There’s nothing in sight to help small business owners," Lebo said.

And there’s more trouble for small business.  The government is closing in on the $349 billion lending limit on its Paycheck Protection Program that is sending relief money to the nation's small businesses. The Small Business Administration says that it has approved more than 1.6 million loans worth more than $339 billion. 

The program will likely reach its ceiling Thursday.  A Trump administration request for another $250 billion for the program has stalled in the Senate. 


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