- For many hourly and gig workers, filing for unemployment and facing challenges in accessing government assistance have become commonplace, according to Bluecrew, a staffing technology platform. The company's latest report, released April 30, is based on a survey of more than 1,650 workers across salaried positions, hourly employees, and gig workers in the U.S.
- The results found that 45% of hourly and gig workers have already filed or plan to file for unemployment, and 47% are concerned about accessing unemployment benefits. Hourly and gig workers are also more worried about finding work than the general population. Sixty-two percent of Americans say their employer hasn't offered any relief or benefits.
- The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was signed into law March 27. The stimulus relief package is causing confusion for hourly and gig workers as 72% are unaware or confused about how to access benefits; 37% are unsure if they qualify; and 35% are unaware of expanded unemployment benefits. Although the majority of Americans (70%) are worried about making ends meet during the crisis, hourly and gig workers have greater concern (80%), and 41% will use their stimulus check for basic needs.
While the jobs of hourly workers "have always been essential to our way of life, they were only recently named 'essential jobs,''' Bluecrew stated in its report.
In response to the pandemic, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), which executes the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security's authorities to secure critical infrastructure, released an Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce advisory list in March. The list included workers in industries such as medical and healthcare, defense, food and agriculture and transportation and logistics, among others. But hourly and gig workers in meat processing plants and warehouses, for example, have been vocal about the lack of worker safety.
Unemployment is a major issue for hourly and gig workers, according to Bluecrew's report. But in the midst of job loss, there are some companies that have committed to hiring. Instacart announced in April it will hire an additional 250,000 contractors. This follows the company's announcement in March that it would hire 300,000 new shoppers. Walmart announced in March it will hire 150,000 associates through the end of May to work in stores, clubs, distribution and fulfillment centers. The company said the role is temporary, but many could turn into permanent positions.
Meanwhile, Microsoft committed to continue to pay hourly service providers as Seattle-area office employees work from home, the company announced in March. Although the tech giant reduced the need for the hourly workers, including shuttle bus drivers and cafe staffers, at its campuses, Microsoft pledged to provide the workers regular pay "regardless of whether their full services are needed."