Wisconsin’s self-employed struggle to stay afloat during coronavirus pandemic

Coronavirus

MENASHA, Wis. (WFRV) — Kristin Toppins has been a self-employed hair stylist for 10 years.

Her business started to suffer even before the governor shut down all hair salons due to the coronavirus.

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“If I don’t have clients, I don’t get paid,” Toppins told Local 5. “With all of this going on, all of my clients that I had did cancel.”

She cuts hair from a rented chair at Studio R in Menasha.

The salon is closed, with a tentative re-opening set for the first week of April.

“The owner has waived all the fees for chair rental for the month,” Toppins said, “and that’s amazing, she didn’t have to do that.”

However, Toppins still has other bills to pay.

She has tried to register for unemployment, but so far that hasn’t worked out.

“I got these letters in the mail, which I didn’t understand,” she said. “I have four to five different phone numbers that I’ve tried to contact them with and I can’t get through to anybody.”

The emergency stimulus package recently passed by the U.S. Senate could help make this time easier for the self-employed.

Jim Golembeski, Executive Director for the Bay Area Workforce Development Board explained, “There seems to be provisions for extending unemployment, increasing the level of unemployment, so the amount that you get would increase, and also extending it to groups who otherwise might not be eligible for unemployment.”

That would help the temporarily unemployed like Toppins get by during the pandemic, but for those willing to make a career change, Golembeski says there are plenty of opportunities.

“We have sectors of the economy like manufacturing, construction, logistics, and some of the retail industry that are hiring very robustly,” he said.

Job Center of Wisconsin Offices are closed because of the coronavirus, but appointments can be made by calling 920-448-6760.

“The underlying economy is very strong, and I think once we get past this it’s not going to take too long for the economy to snap back,” Golembeski said.

In the meantime, “what we have to do is abide by the rules that are being put in place. however, people that are self employed need to be taken care of as well,” Toppins said.

The House of Representatives will vote on the Senate-approved stimulus package Friday.

It’s likely to pass, an the two-trillion dollar package will be sent to President Trump for his signature.

WISCONSIN CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE

WFRV COVID-19 Coverage | Confirmed cases in Wisconsin
Tracking coronavirus | Local health experts talk coronavirus
Stimulus check calculator| Local businesses hiring during outbreak

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