Workers in the gig economy and other independent contractors should be eligible for temporary unemployment benefits if they lose their jobs, according to a new report.
The Center for American Progress, Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality, and the National Employment Law Project have a package of proposals aimed at adapting the unemployment insurance (UI) system "for 21st century realities."
The proposed reforms include creating a "Jobseekers Allowance" for workers ineligible for traditional UI, including independent contractors and others in the "gig" or sharing economy, such as Uber and Lyft drivers. A Jobseekers Allowance would also cover individuals with limited work history, including young people transitioning from school to work and people re-entering the labor force after caring for a family member or recovering from an illness.
UI is a federal-state program that temporarily replaces wages for individuals who lost their job through no fault of their own and are actively looking for employment, among other eligibility requirements. Workers in most states can receive UI benefits, which are paid by businesses through payroll taxes, for a maximum of 26 weeks.
Unpredictable and non-standard job schedules can negatively impact the development of children and adolescents whose parent work such shifts, and policy changes are needed to improve workplace scheduling practices, experts argue in a recent issue brief published by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).
Children of all ages whose parents have erratic or non-standard job schedules are at higher risk for adverse cognitive and behavioral outcomes, reads the brief, authored by University of New South Wales lecturer Leila Morsy and EPI research associate Richard Rothstein.
"When parents can't predict when they will or won't be working, their entire home lives are disrupted -- they engage less with their children in critical activities like reading and telling stories," Morsy said in a statement. "In many states, parents working irregular schedules even lose eligibility for child care subsidies."
The percentage of out-of-work Americans receiving benefits from state unemployment insurance (UI) programs reached a historic low in 2014, a new study shows.
According to the Economic Policy Institute's (EPI) report, the national UI recipiency rate -- the share of jobless people receiving benefits from state UI programs -- dropped to 23 percent as of last December. That's less than the previous record-low UI recipiency rate of 25 percent, which was set in September 1984.
Though researchers from the Washington, D.C.-based think tank do credit the decline in part to an improving economy, they say state UI programs "in many cases failed to assist jobless workers" after the Great Recession.