More than One in Three Applicants Are Still Waiting for Unemployment Benefits

A new ZipRecruiter survey finds that only 75.9% of U.S. job seekers who have been laid off due to the coronavirus crisis say they have applied for unemployment benefits. That suggests official jobless claims figures are an undercount of recent job losses. 

Among those who have applied for benefits, more than one in three say they are still waiting to receive them. Many state unemployment insurance systems have experienced backlogs and delays.

As of the week ending May 28, for example, 17 states were still not reporting claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). (PUA is the program Congress created to extend unemployment insurance benefits to traditionally ineligible workers, such as self-employed workers, independent contractors, and gig workers.) Elsewhere, PUA accounts for payments to one-in-three beneficiaries.

Among U.S. job seekers who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic, whites (79.5%) are statistically significantly more likely to have applied for unemployment benefits than blacks (71.6%) or Hispanics (69.3%). 

Conditional on having applied, whites (61.6%) and blacks (61.5%) are equally likely to have started receiving benefits, but more likely than Hispanics (55.8%). 

That may explain the urgency many respondents express about their job search. 65.5% of job seekers say their need to find a job is urgent or extremely urgent, with financial need cited as the main reason to look for work by a majority of job seekers (58.2%). 

Results are based on a ZipRecruiter, Inc. survey of 2,021 logged in job seekers conducted between June 1 and June 4, 2020. 1,002 of the respondents reported having lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic. Of those, 757 said they had applied for unemployment benefits. 62.8% of the respondents identified as white, 13.7% as black or African American, 13.3% as Hispanic or Latino, and 10.2% as another race.

Julia Pollak

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Julia Pollak is a labor economist at ZipRecruiter. She provides insights and analysis on current labor market trends and the future of work.

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