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Etsy Asks Congress to Consider Aid for the Self-Employed

Etsy Asks Congress to Consider Aid for the Self-Employed

Congress is working on emergency relief efforts to help individuals and businesses impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, but Etsy said the self-employed were largely not covered by the current proposals.

Many sellers don’t qualify for social safety net programs such as unemployment insurance, disability insurance, or paid leave, according to Etsy’s Josh Silverman.

The CEO sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urging them to ensure that any future COVID-19 relief package includes the nation’s microbusinesses and the self-employed.

He recommended Congress consider six measures to address their unique needs, including unemployment protection. “The self-employed are not eligible for unemployment protection. The federal government should immediately fund an unemployment protection fund for the self-employed and gig workers, which would allow them to receive benefits in the event of declining income due to decreased demand for their goods or services.”

Etsy represents 2.7 million creative entrepreneurs, 83% of whom are women and nearly all of whom run one person businesses out of their homes, according to Silverman – and he said Etsy sellers are not alone.

“All told, more than 57 million people work independently in the United States. Together, they comprise the emerging gig economy. These microbusiness, independent contractors, and self-employed individuals need an economic recovery package to help stem hardship due to COVID-19.

“Unfortunately, many of the proposals currently under discussion would not help these entrepreneurs. For example, they would not qualify for expansions of social benefits tied to employment, nor the disaster relief programs that target small businesses.”

The Etsy CEO ended his letter with the plea, “At a time of so much uncertainty, let’s not leave our most vulnerable entrepreneurs behind.” You can read the full letter on the Etsy blog.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.

2 thoughts on “Etsy Asks Congress to Consider Aid for the Self-Employed”

  1. I think unemployment should be available to all who pay their taxes. Those who don’t make enough to even file taxes are even more vulnerable if they’re living on limited incomes. Many tax-paying citizens can’t get the benefits they’ve paid for in times of crisis, not even a disabling car accident.

    Even when they immediately apply for assistance, if they’ve been out of work too long (I believe it’s two fiscal quarters, which isn’t nearly long enough), then they are immediately and continually denied. Yes, this is my story and I had funds to take time off while pursuing entrepreneurial endeavors, but I had been unemployed for less than a year.

    I had perfect credit at the time, my car was paid off with my last paycheck, and I was working on a business plan to present to banks. Little did I know I was going to fly over a 17-foot bridge and survive, much less that our auto insurance only covers $5K on personal injury.

    So, I was basically forced into self-employment without any means to get the loan I had planned to and it has been a struggle the whole way…still being denied disability because I couldn’t afford to go to doctors to get treated for anything that would be documented. I never even got the physical therapy I was supposed to because the county robbed me of that on a technicality that was their fault.

    Yet, I see so many illegal immigrants getting all the assistance and healthcare they need on MY dime, along with the dimes of so many others in my shoes. And they wonder why we have a problem? Somebody has to pay the bill for them and it’s certainly not the government footing the bill.

  2. It’s people like me who struggle despite having paid into the system with the assurance that we would be covered in times like these. So, yes, there is definitely something wrong with that picture.

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