Can Real Estate Agents Apply for Unemployment During the Pandemic?
Coronavirus pandemic has caused real chaos in the economy of the entire world, but it seems that the country which has been hit hardest is the United States. The unemployment rate is growing, and companies are planning more redundancies. One of the most threatened branches at the moment is real estate. Companies like The Pattisal Group need help to survive these challenging times, as well as numbers of real estate agents who have lost their source of income.
The Economic Catastrophe
Even though in recent weeks the numbers of new unemployed have decreased, we still have to measure them in millions. Overall, during the seven weeks of the coronavirus lockdown, 33.2 million people have applied for unemployment. The unemployment rate has never been higher in the entire US history, and at the moment, it equals 15.1 percent. Even during the 2008 financial crisis, this rate wasn’t that high.
There is more bad news, though. According to the Challengers report for May 7th, American companies are planning the highest number of redundancies in US history. Six hundred seventy-one thousand employees may lose their jobs in the upcoming months. The previous record amounted to 248 thousand in 2002.
One of the industries that have been hit particularly hard is real estate. According to Redfin, housing supply is declining now more than ever, and in some states like California and New York, real estate agents were not deemed essential workers. That means that they couldn’t do their job because of the stay-at-home orders.
The CARES Act
On March 27th, Congress passed the CARES Act, the 2 trillion dollars stimulus bill to help the US declining economy. The Act provides financial relief to small business owners, independent contractors, and other unemployed citizens of the USA, including real estate agents.
Thanks to this bill, eligible agents can apply for federal unemployment assistance of 600 dollars per week over a four-month period. The CARES Act also includes many perks to small businesses in the form of delayed loan and tax payments.
All Americans who have their social security number and earn less than 75,000 dollars per year can apply for a one-time payment of 1,200 dollars, plus 500 for each child under 17 years of age. Married couples with combined 150,000 dollars per year can apply for a check of 2,400 dollars worth.
Individuals who usually earn between 75,000 and 99,000 dollars per year will receive slightly less. The amount written on a check will be reduced by 5 dollars for every 100 dollars earned. This reduction also includes married couples with a combined yearly income of up to 198,000.
Aid For The Real Estate Industry
As mentioned above, the real estate industry has been struck during this crisis. Many real estate companies are on the verge of bankruptcy, and pandemic forced them to lay off much of their staff. For example, eXp has made redundant 15 percent of its employees.
Fortunately, thanks to the CARE Act, real estate agents who have lost their jobs can apply for all the benefits included in the bill. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has been working very closely with Congress and Administration to protect the interests of realtors and their clients.
NAR president Vince Malta said in March that all the problems with agents being denied their unemployment are occurring because some states are not prepared to handle the traffic yet. The situation is getting better, though, and from April 28th, realtors can send their applications online to speed up the process.
There is also more good news for realtors. NAR stated that in addition to benefits that agents can receive from the CARE Act, the association has some reserves put aside to help its members in times of need. President Malta stated that NAR would do everything to make sure that its members receive all the help they need to get through the times of pandemic.
The real estate industry is responsible for millions of jobs, and according to NAR, it will be a key to national recovery. Fortunately, it looks like the government also acknowledges this fact.
That’s why if you’re a real estate agent, you needn’t worry about not being able to apply for unemployment. The CARE Act does allow realtors to apply for help they need, and the National Association of Realtors is making sure that its members are not left alone during this challenging time.
To see what steps you should take to apply for unemployment, visit the official website of NAR or the Employment Development Department.
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