Councilman David Ryu introduced a motion Tuesday to establish a wage replacement program in Los Angeles, which would use up to $100 million in federal CARES Act money to help small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic rehire employees.
“People are out of work and struggling to put food on the table,” Ryu said. “We must do everything we can to keep people on payroll and keep our small businesses afloat. If we don’t do more to support Los Angeles workers, we risk a total collapse of the local economy and irreparable harm to countless families.”
The motion, if passed, would seek to establish a program similar to the federal Paycheck Protection Program, Ryu said. The PPP provided money to businesses so they could keep employees on their payroll, thus avoiding layoffs.
“Many of us know a small business, restaurant or street vendor that didn’t get a PPP loan,” said Lyric Kelkar, a senior associate at Inclusive Action for the City, a member organization of the Healthy LA coalition. “Los Angeles has an opportunity to create a program specific to the needs of the most impacted entrepreneurs and workers.”
Businesses that did not receive a PPP check would be prioritized for the Los Angeles wage replacement, according to Ryu’s motion.
The latest jobs report from Controller Ron Galperin showed that job losses were “severe” in Los Angeles, which has so far lost more than 200,000 jobs during the pandemic, Ryu said.
The losses were greatest in Ryu’s 4th Council District, which lost 21,565 jobs, primarily in the information, accommodation and food service industries.
It was not immediately clear which City Council committee would first hear Ryu’s motion.
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