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How Many People Are Now Covered by Unemployment Insurance?

Here's a pair of charts comparing the employment level to those covered by state unemployment insurance.
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Covered Employment vs Employment Level 2021-08

Covered Employment

Covered employment means those covered state level unemployment insurance. Those numbers are not seasonally adjusted so I used the unadjusted employment levels as well.

Who's Eligible?

State level Eligibility Requirements vary widely.

Typically, there is no set length of time an employee must work for a single employer to collect unemployment benefits. A few states have exceptions for workers who were employed for less than 30 days. In most states, however, eligibility for unemployment benefits depends upon how many hours the individual has worked, and how much income the employee has earned in his or her “base period,” regardless of how many different employers the individual may have had.

A base period is a one-year period, usually defined as the first four of the last five completed quarters. If the individual meets the required earnings amount (which will vary by state law) during that period, meets any state requirements for hours worked in the base period and has a qualifying termination reason, this individual will likely be eligible for benefits, regardless of whether or not the last employer will be chargeable.Let's hone in on that for a better look at what's going on.

Unemployment Insurance Scam

Self-employed persons are generally not eligible for state-level programs even though the self-employed have to pay into these programs. 

As one impacted, this seems like a scam. 

Covered Employment Detail

Covered Employment vs Employment Level Detail 2021-08

Key Discussion Points

  • In April of 2020, there were 145.67 million people covered by unemployment insurance but only 133.33 million people working. 
  • This unusual inversion had never happened before. It lasted 4 months, April through June of 2020.
  • Covered Employment data is weekly, ending Saturday and lags by a week. I use a "monthly average" which run through July vs the employment level series which runs through August.

Nonfarm Payrolls +235,000 but No Leisure and Hospitality Jobs

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For the latest jobs report, please see Nonfarm Payrolls +235,000 but No Leisure and Hospitality Jobs

Despite millions of openings, the Leisure and Hospitality sector added no jobs in August.

How Long Have People Been Unemployed?

I covered that question this morning: Of the 8.5 Million Unemployed, 37% Have Been So For 27 or More Weeks

Five Years in the Hole

The current covered level is 137.03 million. The last time covered employment was lower was June of 2016 at 136.97 million.

If another recession hit soon or if unemployment levels rise for any reason, the current starting point for unemployment insurance is 5 years in the hole. 

That's not at all unusual, but the risk of another Covid-related slowdown is not exactly low.

Meanwhile, please note GDPNow Q3 Forecast Plunges, Real Final Sales Stall, Nowcast Suspended.

Happy Labor Day.

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