The Daily Rundown

SBDR: Rural America Experience Declines, Apps Create Gig Economy in NY, Delays for Paid Family Leave

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February is almost over, thank goodness. If you haven’t decided how you’re going to spend your extra day this February 29th, consider celebrating with some Leap Day freebies. Before then, check out the following stories on small business death in rural America, the gig economization of restaurant kitchens, and the unforeseen popularity of Washington’s new paid family leave program.

Small biz growth concentrated in urban areas

Over the past decade, nearly all rural areas in the U.S. have experienced substantial declines in the number of small businesses. This decline is tied heavily to the overall population decline in these areas. Furthermore, residents of these areas are often suspicious of newcomers who do arrive and attempt to start local businesses.

The Number: 6,400. On the whole, the number of small businesses in the rural U.S. decreases from 2010 to 2016. There were some increases in aggregate, though, with the number of small businesses in Mormon enclaves increasing by 6,400 and in Latino rural areas by 7,100. 

The Quote: But policies geared toward encouraging startups have not been effective in rural areas, leading to a growing regional divide.”

Apps turn restaurant kitchen jobs into gig economy

The New York Times published an article earlier this week exploring the ways that apps have influenced the city’s restaurant and kitchen workforce, creating a gig economy, for better or for worse. It’s an interesting read, especially in light of California’s AB-5 law and other discussions about the role of contract or gig workers in the economy and society.

The Number: $31,910. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. restaurant employees (who make up the largest pool of kitchen workers in the country) earn an average of $31,910 per year. 

The Quote: “Other professions have hard, unappreciated lives: teachers, cops, firefighters, nurses. But they have health insurance, 401(k)s, severance . . . unions, pensions. We have none of that. Athletes get used up, too, but they have the chance at million-dollar contracts. We just get used up. There’s no quality of life while we work. And no quality of life promised after we retire. It’s all take and no give. It’s a broken system that breaks us, too.”

Washington state faces huge backlog in number of applications for new family leave program

In the first 6 weeks of Washington State’s new paid family leave program, the Washington Employment Security Department has received enough applications for leave to create a serious backlog. Already, more than 30,000 people have applied, which is 3 times as many as were expected.

The Number: $1,000. The benefit is capped out at $1,000 per week and there is currently a 10-week waiting period for applications. The agency administering the program has already paid out over 25,000 weekly claims. 

The Quote: “We know that that’s simply too long.”

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