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Virtual Town Hall Will Teach Self-Employed How To Get Unemployment Benefits

Flickr Creative Commons/Dubois Drugs

When a business folds, normally the owner doesn't qualify for unemployment, but since the COVID-19 crisis hit, the federal government through the CARES Act has changed that. Now, the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services (DWS) is preparing to roll out a system to help the self-employed, gig workers and contract workers get the aid they need to survive the pandemic.

Ty Stockton spokesman for Workforce Services said, because these workers have never qualified for unemployment before, it seemed like a good idea to host a virtual town hall meeting.

"Because of what they do, they weren't eligible for unemployment before," he said. "They're probably filing for the first time so there are going to be a lot of questions. So, we're going to try to get those answered for folks on Friday at 10 o'clock."

Since self-employed workers don't necessarily have pay stubs, they can show their tax return, business ledger or other documents instead. They can qualify to receive a minimum of $193 a week through the state along with more weekly aid from the federal government.

"When these folks are able to register for the PUA [Pandemic Unemployment Assistance], the self- employed and others who aren't eligible for regular unemployment, then they will also be eligible for that $600 a week extra from the federal government to help offset the costs of being unemployed," said Stockton.

He said the hope is that self-employed workers will be able to begin signing early next week. The Zoom meeting is Friday, May 1 at 10 a.m. If you can't make it Friday, you can watch it later, along with other town halls in the series. To reach the Wyoming Workforce Services' townhall meeting page click here and scroll down halfway to where "participants are encouraged to sign up in advance."

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Melodie Edwards, at medward9@uwyo.edu.

Melodie Edwards is the host and producer of WPM's award-winning podcast The Modern West. Her Ghost Town(ing) series looks at rural despair and resilience through the lens of her hometown of Walden, Colorado. She has been a radio reporter at WPM since 2013, covering topics from wildlife to Native American issues to agriculture.
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