The California Policy Lab has interesting insights into Unemployment Insurance Claims in California During the COVID-19 Pandemic.
- The number of initial UI claims has increased steadily from May 17th to July 18th, followed by a slight drop in the week of July 25th . In each of the last nine weeks, regular initial UI claims were over two times the peak of weekly initial claims during the Great Recession, yet data from continuing claims indicates a gradual decline in the number of individuals collecting benefits each week.
- The steady rise in initial claims since May 17th is nearly entirely explained by an increasing number of additional claims—claims which are “reopened” after a claimant’s temporary return to work, implying many workers suffered from repeated layoffs during the crisis. In the week ending July 25th, 57% of regular initial claims were additional claims, compared to just above 40% before the crisis, and 5% during the peak. [Lead Chart]
- This is the first study publishing the number of unique claimants in the state, instead of tallying all initial claims, which results in substantial double-counting. 6.23 million unique California claimants, or 32% of the California workforce, has filed for UI benefits since the start of the COVID-19 crisis in mid-March. Since many of these 6.23 million workers have filed multiple claims, this total is substantially smaller (24% less) than the 8.18 million initial claims that have been filed in the same period.
- In the week ending July 11th, 3.46 million claimants, or about 18% of the CA labor force, were eligible to receive unemployment insurance benefits. Unlike more common statistics of weekly UI payment receipt, we are able to count claimants in terms of when they were unemployed, not when they were paid (which is usually several weeks later, and complicated by varying processing lags).
- Without the $600 per week additional benefits from FPUC, half of all individuals receiving UI benefits would have received payments below the Federal Poverty Level. California claimants have received $35.5 billion in FPUC payments for unemployment experienced between the start of the program and July 11th.
- In the week ending July 11th , a total of 529 thousand individuals (or 2.7% of the labor force) either received partial UI or were denied benefits because of excess earnings. The share of paid claimants receiving partial benefits has risen substantially since early May, but ticked down during the week ending July 11th. This indicates a substantial fraction of individuals that recently returned to work are working reduced hours and may still be receiving unemployment benefits.
Impact of $600 Weekly Checks
FPUC benefits made a substantial difference for UI claimants in CA. For example, $914 per week ($314 + $600) puts the median claimant at about 55% of median family income (MFI), and above the HUD threshold for “very low-income” (50% MFI). The claimant would still be deemed "low-income" (below 80% MFI) in the absence of other income sources in the household
California Not Unique
Points number two, five, and six are the key ideas.
California is not unique. This implies millions of workers nationally are suffering through repeated layoffs and reduced hours.
Nationally, about 13 million workers are solely dependent on PUA, having no state benefits.
Some of those people are working part-time. Working or not, the weekly $600 checks stopped flowing on July 25.
There is still a Huge Gap Between the GOP and the Democrat Stimulus Plans but we keep hearing reports of progress.
The alleged progress is so great that Trump Weighs Imposing His Stimulus Plan, Constitution be Damned.