Utah residents who are self-employed or work in the gig industry can file for unemployment benefits amid the coronavirus outbreak, state officials announced Wednesday.

The filing opportunity for people who work in jobs such as hair stylists or ride-hail drivers stems from the $2.2 trillion federal package to help businesses, workers and the health care system staggered by the pandemic, said Kevin Burt, unemployment insurance director at the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

People can’t apply for the program and traditional unemployment, said Burt, urging people to read the rules carefully to choose which fits their situation.

The new program is designed to help people who don’t have the 15-month job history needed to qualify for typical unemployment benefits.

More than 81,000 people in Utah have filed jobless claims in the past three weeks in an unprecedented spike that mirrors nationwide trends. Updated unemployment figures for Utah are scheduled to be released Thursday.

Utah Department of Workforce Services (click to apply for PUA)

*by BRADY McCOMBS Associated Press*