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A woman in Hollywood, Florida, is filing an unemployment claim online after being fired from her job at a nearby airport. (Joe Rael/Getty Images)
Unemployment Insurance In Us
The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits for the first time has surpassed previous records, with more than 24 million filed since mid-March, when the COVID-19 pandemic began bringing much of the U.S. economy to a halt. This figure includes the self-employed, gig economy workers and others who were previously ineligible for benefits. (The new Coronavirus Relief, Assistance and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, expanded the rights of inactive workers and authorized additional benefits.)
Fiscal Data For State Unemployment Insurance Systems
Despite some broad federal guidelines, claimants still face a patchwork of state rules that determine how they can qualify for benefits, how much they’ll receive, and how long they’ll be able to receive them, because the U.S. doesn’t have a uniform statewide system for receiving them. for them. to the unemployed in cash. Instead, it actually has 53 separate systems run by states (as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands) that are overseen but not controlled by the federal government.
We’ve used several data sources to provide a picture of unemployment benefits across the United States as claims have increased due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Data on “continuous weeks claimed,” which show how many people claim unemployment benefits in a given week, were obtained from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA); unemployment data were obtained from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. We calculated states’ receipt rates by taking continuous claims for the same week as the BLS household survey reference week, then dividing by the total unemployment rate.
The figures for each state’s minimum and maximum weekly benefit amount and maximum benefit duration were first taken from ETA’s publication “Country Unemployment Laws Comparison 2019”. These were then compared where possible with the website of each national unemployment agency and modified where necessary. Information on the different national eligibility rules was also taken from the ETA publication.
In large part because state rules vary widely, so does the share of people the government considers unemployed who actually receive unemployment benefits. In March, just before the pandemic really began to hurt the economy, 65.9 percent of unemployed Massachusetts residents received benefits, but only 7.6 percent of unemployed Florida residents, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of data from the Employment and Training Administration. Ministry of Labor and Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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Overall, about 29% of unemployed Americans, or 2.1 million of the 7.37 million, received benefits in March, according to our analysis. Most of those 2.1 million received payments through regular state unemployment insurance programs. There are also special programs for former federal employees, recently retired military personnel and people whose work hours have been reduced as part of “job sharing” initiatives.
The discrepancy between the official unemployment numbers and the number of recipients highlights an often-overlooked fact: being unemployed and receiving unemployment benefits are two entirely different things, and one does not always have much to do with the other. In both cases, not working is a necessary but not the only condition.
The official government unemployment data comes from the monthly Current Population Survey. In order to be counted as unemployed, one must be without paid work during the survey reference week (in this case from March 8 to 14), but must be available for work and have actively sought it in the last four weeks. (The unemployed also count workers who have been laid off but are waiting to be called back. In March, the number of people in this category more than doubled to a seasonally adjusted 2.2 million.)
To receive unemployment benefits, you must be out of work through “no fault,” which means that people who quit or are fired for cause are generally ineligible. But this is only one condition out of many.
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First, you must earn minimum wage income to qualify. This amount varies from country to country, as does the way it is calculated and the time period in which it must be earned. Many states require applicants to wait a week before receiving their first benefit check (although some states have waived this requirement during the current crisis). Certain categories of workers may not be eligible: For example, real estate agents who are paid on commission can receive benefits in only six states. On the other hand, in 28 states, workers who are still employed but have reduced their hours can receive partial benefits through “short-term compensation” (or “job-sharing)” programs.
Also, because claimants can only receive benefits for a limited time, a long period of unemployment can cause them to exhaust their benefits—another way people can be out of work and still not receive unemployment benefits. However, in times of economic crisis, federal and state laws often allow for extended benefits: for example, the CARES Act allows states to provide up to 13 additional weeks of federally funded benefits to people who have exhausted their regular state benefits.
All of these factors contribute to variable state beneficiary rates. However, some regional patterns stand out. Of the 10 states where less than 15% of the unemployed received benefits in March, seven were in the South, while nine of the 12 states where more than 40% of the unemployed received benefits in March were in the Northeast or Midwest. (Between February and March, receipts fell in all but nine states, reflecting the sharp rise in unemployment and the lag between losing a job and first collecting benefits.)
States and territories usually calculate a person’s weekly benefit amount as a percentage of their pre-unemployment earnings, but these benefits are capped. Limits also vary widely, from $823 per week in Massachusetts to $235 per week in Mississippi and $190 per week in Puerto Rico. (Some states provide additional benefits for dependent children and other family members, each with their own rules and limitations.)
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Regional differences also appear in maximum benefit amounts: Seven of the 10 states with the lowest maximum weekly benefits ($350 or less) are in the Southeast, while nearly all of the states with the 10 highest maximum benefits are in or along the Northeast. at the national level
There is less variation in how long people can collect benefits. Before Covid-19 began to wreak havoc on the economy, most states set the standard length of benefits at 26 weeks; 10 states (six of them in the South) had shorter limits, and two had longer ones (Montana at 28 weeks and Massachusetts at 30 under certain conditions). Since the start of the pandemic, three states (Georgia, Kansas and Michigan) have temporarily increased restrictions to 26 weeks.
Note. The chart “States set different limits on how long residents can receive unemployment benefits” was updated on April 27, 2020 to more accurately reflect unemployment laws in Kansas and Idaho before changes due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan repository of facts that informs the public about the issues, attitudes, and trends shaping the world. It conducts public opinion polls, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. The Pew Research Center does not take political positions. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts.
Fraud Detective And The Case Of The Pandemic Unemployment Insurance Con
In March 2020, communities across the United States began to realize the severity of the new coronavirus pandemic and the deadly spread of the disease, COVID-19, caused by the virus. As businesses closed their doors to prevent the spread of the disease, the combined federal-state unemployment insurance program, which finances and administers unemployment benefits, provided an important income replacement for people who could no longer come to work. Today, when waves of March temporary layoffs turn into permanent job losses, the role of the unemployment insurance system in stabilizing the American economy and providing income to the unemployed and their families is no less important.
However, while the ongoing coronavirus downturn is highlighting the importance of unemployment benefits, the severe strain on the unemployment insurance system is shining a light on the program’s deep flaws. Underfunding of the administration continues to delay workers applying for unemployment benefits for a long time, as well as deny benefits to those workers who are entitled to them. Small benefits paid by many states also force workers to rely on an obscure federal benefit supplement system that is expiring. And the coincidence of this economic crisis with a national uprising over anti-black racism underscores the widespread racial disparity in unemployment benefits.
These increasingly visible bugs now encourage decision makers to better understand UI system issues and how they might occur