Gov. Cuomo asked the federal government, in March, to provide unemployment assistance to New York’s independent contractors (ICs), many of whom remain ineligible for those benefits at the state level. Cuomo said he will “continue to pursue long-term statewide reforms [to] ensure all gig-economy workers receive the protections they deserve while maintaining the job flexibility they enjoy.”
The state’s formal request for disaster unemployment assistance was submitted to the White House March 16. If approved, it would benefit ICs, self-employed New Yorkers and “gig-economy” workers. The request was still pending as of March 27. These workers remain vulnerable to the coronavirus-driven cessation of nearly all economic activity, as they are largely ineligible for unemployment benefits.
With little to no work coming in these days, it’s not clear how long such workers can wait for relief. It’s also unclear how much this assistance would cost the federal government. A recent report estimated there are roughly 150,000 app-based independent contractors in New York.