Sole proprietors take drastic hit due to COVID-19 outbreak

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Over the past 10 years, Greg Wolfe has built a successful dog walking service. But with most of his clients now working from home, his business has tanked. 

“I’m down to about three clients,” Wolfe said. “Three clients on the front lines. They work in hospitals.” 

Wolfe says his business, Scarelet and Greg’s Pet Service, has seen about a 95 percent drop off in business. 

As a sole proprietor, Wolfe wouldn’t normally qualify for unemployment benefits.  But the $2 trillion federal stimulus bill would extend benefits to sole proprietors and people working in the gig economy. 

“It does give me some hope and lets me know that we are being considered,” Wolfe said. “They know we’re out there and hopefully in the next few weeks that we’ll be included and get some relief.” 

The holding lot for Uber and Lyft drivers at Columbus’ John Glenn International Airport is mostly empty now.  

One driver who asked not to be identified said most other drivers have switched to deliveries or have simply put their cars in park. He’s still driving but says he’s living mostly off his savings now.

“I’m just trying not to dig too deep into my savings by driving whatever I can now. I don’t want to stay home.” 

Expanding eligibility to include gig workers, furloughed workers and independent contractors will add to the volume of unemployment claims being filed. 

Ohio Lt. Governor Jon Husted said the state is adding servers to build up the capacity of the online application process for unemployment claims. 

“It’s like a rush hour on the highway,” Husted said. “The highway system is built for a certain capacity and we exceed that certain capacity, the system can’t handle it.” 

More than 187,000 new claims were filed in Ohio last week. Husted sought to reassure those who are still struggling to complete the application process. 

“If you do not get through and you’re worried about the timing of your benefit and not getting paid the full amount that you qualify for they will make that retroactive,” Husted said. “So just because you don’t get through today or if there was a delay, know that they will make the benefit retroactive to the time that you qualify for it.” 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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