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Self-Employed Will Have To Wait Two More Weeks To File For Unemployment

A framing art gallery in Venice Beach on April 01, 2020. Another 6.65 million U.S. workers filed for unemployment benefits last week, the most ever recorded. (Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images)
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Governor Gavin Newsom said Wednesday that 2.7 million Californians have now filed for unemployment benefits over the last four weeks. Many have been out of work for a month or more due to the coronavirus.

But some, including the self-employed, are still waiting for their chance to file.

Gig workers, freelancers and self-employed people were made eligible for benefits through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program under the federal coronavirus aid package. But California’s unemployment office has not yet created an online portal for many of those workers to apply for benefits.

Labor Secretary Julie Su said in a Facebook Live video on Tuesday that the department still needs two weeks to get the system online. But once it’s ready, she said applicants will start to get payments within 24 to 48 hours.

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“We know that what you need is the money in your pocket,” Su said. “What we wanted to do was be able to set up a process by which you would apply and get the money really quickly. And we are going to be able to do that.”

For those who’ve been frustrated about not being able to reach the unemployment office to get their questions answered, Governor Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday that call center hours are being expanded. Phones will now be answered between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

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