Construction contractors all over the world are struggling with the economic effects of work stoppages resulting from the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. To help mitigate the crisis in the US, the government has expanded unemployment benefits and has made special loans available to small businesses.
Nearly 10 million Americans have lost their jobs and applied for unemployment benefits over the past two weeks, a record number that reflects the dire circumstances facing the US economy.
Job losses related to the coronavirus are expected to rise further over the next few weeks, with economists saying the U.S. unemployment rate could reach as high as 15%, well above the 10% peak during the Great Recession. As recently as February, the unemployment rate was just 3.5%, a 50-year low.
Many in construction are wondering if they qualify for unemployment benefits, especially those who are self-employed independent contractors.
According to a report in the New York Times, the recently enacted CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security), expanded unemployment coverage is now available to workers who have lost their jobs or income through no fault of their own, including the self-employed, who were not previously covered.
Regarding the loan program, Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) has prepared a new analysis of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, a new loan program that’s part of the CARES Act. Construction businesses with 500 or fewer employees may be eligible.