CALIFORNIA—The Employment Development Department of California reported on Monday, July 20 that more than 230,000 Californians who are employed in the arts, entertainment, and recreation sectors have filed for unemployment claims since mid-March, when the pandemic hit the United States. According to the EDD’s statistics, divided by county, that includes 65,000 workers in Los Angeles, 30,000 in Orange County, and 25,000 in San Diego County.

Prior to the pandemic, the average amount of workers who applied for unemployment benefits was 730 during the first two months of 2020. That increased to 9,500 claims in the month of March. 

Many of these workers applied for unemployment benefits under the CARES Act, which President Donald Trump signed into law on March 27. They can receive an extra $600 via the federal government up until July 25.

“If the payments they receive were for weeks they spent unemployed or working reduced hours between March 29 and July 25. This assumes they meet all eligibility requirements,” an EDD spokesperson publicly announced on July 20.

Unemployed workers in the entertainment industry have not been eligible for full benefits, as the industry, along with other sectors such as freelancers and gig workers, contains workers who are not normally protected by government unemployment benefits.

As a remedy to help entertainment workers in Los Angeles, the  concentrated area for entertainment jobs in the state, Burbank District Representative Adam Schiff and Pasadena District Representative Judy Chu introduced the “Mixed Earner Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Act” on July 20, which is designed to ensure that workers who earned mix of traditional and independent income are able to fully access the benefits outlined in the CARES Act, which many were previously ineligible for.

This Act will ensure that workers with substantial self-employment income can be able to opt into the CARES Act, calculating the benefits they will receive based on their total income history from both traditional and creative self-employment work.