Unemployment BenefitsUnemployment benefits have been an important part of many people’s ability to survive the effects of the pandemic. Wherever you are, the pandemic has wrought havoc economically. Right now, restaurants, gyms, and activities for children are closed. That has left a large void in our local economy. Our kids are stuck at home, doing distance learning. All those people who work at restaurants, gyms, and other activity providers are unable to work either. Many of them have children of their own at home. So the problem continues to compound itself.

This week, the issue becomes even more magnified. According to the Wall Street Journal, 1.5 million freelancers in the New York area are set to have their unemployment benefits expire.

Unemployment Benefits for Freelancers

According to the Wall Street Journal, the program that extended benefits for freelancers will run out unless Congress renews the program known as Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. It began in the spring and provides payments for self-employed individuals and others who were previously ineligible for unemployment benefits. In New York, half of the 2.4 million people receiving unemployment payments are in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.

The concern is that if the program ends, it will have a big impact on consumer spending. The estimates for New York City alone are $800 million in January if the program isn’t renewed. In New Jersey and Connecticut, thousands of other freelancers are facing the loss of their unemployment benefits.

Wherever you are, this has also had a crushing effect on your local music venue. Almost all venues are closed. Some of them are able to open up space to stream concerts. But this is not a long-term solution for them. And think of all the “behind the scenes” work that goes into putting on a concert!

Support Your Local Small Businesses

All those freelancers in your community can use your support. Photographers are available and ready to take holiday photos for you. There are probably local cooks and bakers that are running stripped-down service from their home. And small businesses that are permitted to be open can surely use the help as we approach the end of the year. While pulling up the Amazon app may be easy to order a present, those local small businesses can personalize and add some flair to your holiday gift-giving.

If you’re the one running the small business, I hope that your community knows you are there. Many are ready to support you, especially during the holiday season. But you’ve got to make sure you and your business are visible. If people don’t know you are there, they can’t help you. The tools to market your business are plenty these days. Many of them are free and take minutes to get set up. Not sure where to start? Make sure your Google My Business location is claimed and live. It’s one of the most common ways your customers can find you these days.

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