Economics/Class Relations

Study: 71 percent of jobless Americans did not receive their March unemployment benefits


The majority of unemployed Americans did not receive unemployment benefits in March — a month that shattered US records for job loss claims — according to a new study.

The Pew Research Center has found that, although more than 11 million Americans filed first-time unemployment claims in March, the wide variety of methods states and territories use to administer their jobless programs have resulted in wide disparities in who has received their payments, and how much those payments were worth.

As a result, only 29 percent of jobless Americans received benefits in March, according to Pew’s analysis of Labor Department statistics. The disbursement rate of unemployment payments was found to vary widely, with nearly 66 percent of unemployed Massachusetts residents receiving their benefits, compared to only 7.6 percent of unemployed Florida residents.

The federal CARES Act, the $2.2 trillion stimulus package aimed at addressing coronavirus-related economic fallout, featured provisions meant to boost the size and scope of unemployment benefits. But it left the distribution of funds to the states — many of which have outdated, underfunded, and inefficient methods for enrolling the newly unemployed, as Vox’s Ella Nilsen has explained.


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