California Unemployment Insurance Claims During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 crisis has led to historically unprecedented increases in the level of initial Unemployment Insurance (UI) claims filed in California since the start of the crisis in mid-March. Through a partnership with the Labor Market Information Division of the California Employment Development Department, the California Policy Lab is analyzing daily initial UI claims to provide an in-depth and near real-time look at how the COVID-19 crisis is impacting various industries, regions, counties, and types of workers throughout California. The Policy Briefs are updated on a monthly basis.

Click here to view the seven in-depth Policy Briefs.

Click here to view the Data Point focused on the Lost Wages Assistance program in California.

Click here to view the Data Point focused on the impact of the FPUC benefit expiring.

Click here to view the Policy Analysis focused on increasing the earnings disregard for Partial UI benefits.

Click here to view media coverage of this research.

Policy Briefs

New Research: September 15th Policy Brief, Key Findings, and Press Release.

August 6th Policy Brief, Key Findings, and Press Release.

July 2nd Policy Brief, Key Findings, and Press Release.

June 11th Policy Brief, Key Findings, and Press Release.

May 21st Policy Brief, Key Findings, and Press Release.

May 7th Policy Brief, Key Findings, and Press Release.

April 29th Policy Brief, Key Findings, and Press Release.

Lost Wages Assistance Program Data Point

DATA POINT: Lost Wages Assistance Program will provide temporary support for California workers PDF

PRESS RELEASE: Nearly 200,000 Unemployed Californians Will Miss Out on Extra $300 Benefit from President’s “Lost Wages Assistance” Program

FPUC Data Point

DATA POINT: The role of the $600 FPUC benefit in California during the COVID-19 Pandemic  PDF

PRESS RELEASE: New Analysis: Workers Who Were Most Impacted By COVID-19 Shutdowns Will Also Be Most Impacted if $600 FPUC is Not Extended

Key Research Findings:

1) FPUC payments injected $26 billion into California’s economy since late March

2) Without the $600 FPUC payment, California’s median unemployment insurance benefit amount will drop down to $339 per week. That is less than a quarter of California’s Median Family Income ($86,165) when calculated on a weekly basis.

3) The average actual payment in California without FPUC is $270. While each UI claimant is assigned a Weekly Benefit Amount (WBA) based on prior earnings when they file their claim, for claimants who report income from part-time work, their benefit payment is reduced accordingly, and they receive a payment less than their WBA.

4)Women workers, Black workers, younger workers, and lower-educated workers have been most impacted by COVID-19 related layoffs and will be most impacted if the $600 FPUC payment is not continued.

Policy Analyses

Policy Analysis: The Benefit Implications of Adjusting the Earnings Disregard for Partial UI Benefits in California  PDF

Select Media Coverage

If you would like to receive CPL’s press releases about these reports, please email Sean Coffey: 

Vox: We can end America’s unemployment nightmare (September 23, 2020)

Barron’s: There Might Be Roughly 10 Million Fewer Jobless Americans Than It Seems. Here’s Why. (September 23, 2020)

Sacramento Bee: Extra $300 unemployment money is gone. How will people survive without it? (September 21, 2020)

CalMatters: High housing costs keep Californians poor (September 20, 2020)

Los Angeles Times: California job growth is sluggish — and experts say it may get worse (September 18, 2020)

CNN: Another 860,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week (September 17, 2020)

Forbes: Allegations Of Fraud In The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program: Why The System Is Flawed (September 17, 2020)

New York Times: Why Unemployment Claims May Be Overcounted by Millions (September 16, 2020)

Sacramento Bee: Surging California unemployment claims suggest widespread fraud, state says (September 16, 2020)

Silicon Valley Business Journal: Jobs report points to a mixed recovery for the state economy (September 16, 2020)

San Jose Mercury News: Coronavirus: California jobless claims are “startlingly high,” researchers say (September 15, 2020)

LAist: New Round Of Unemployment Benefits Excludes Many Young CA Workers (September 10, 2020)

Wisconsin Public Radio: Who Is Left Out Of Trump’s $300 Unemployment Insurance Boost? (September 10, 2020)

Los Angeles Times: California begins sending extra $900 to those unemployed due to COVID-19 (September 7, 2020)

The Wrap: $300 Weekly Unemployment Benefits to Begin in California on Sept 7 (September 5, 2020)

Associated Press: A new $300 federal jobless benefit? Not likely for some (September 3, 2020)

Capital Public Radio: Nearly 200,000 Unemployed Californians Won’t Get $300 Enhanced Benefit, Study Shows (September 3, 2020)

ABC 10 Sacramento: Thousands of people won’t get the $300 unemployment boost in California, here’s why (September 3, 2020)

Sacramento Bee: Why thousands of unemployed California workers are unlikely to get extra $300 benefit (September 1, 2020)

San Francisco Chronicle: Another 1.1 million Americans file for unemployment as rate remains above 10% (August 20, 2020)

Los Feliz Ledger: Ryu Authors Motion for Rental & Utility Forgiveness (August 18, 2020)

Washington Examiner:Temporary layoffs becoming permanent job losses (August 14, 2020)

Cheddar: Unemployed Again: 2nd Wave of Coronavirus-Driven Layoffs Underway, Say Economists (August 10, 2020)

NBC News U.S. economy gains 1.8 million jobs as recovery loses momentum (August 7, 2020)

Spectrum News: Interview of Till von Wachter (August 7, 2020)

Sacramento Bee: Trump signs executive order to boost unemployment checks. Can he do that? (August 7, 2020)

LAist/KPCC: Many Californians Who Went Back To Work Are Getting Laid Off — Again (August 7, 2020)

KCRW: Gridlock in Washington over extending PPP: What it means for California workers (August 7, 2020)

Newsweek: Nearly 1 in 3 California Workers Have Filed for Unemployment Since Pandemic Began (August 6, 2020)

San Jose Mercury News: Coronavirus: California unemployment claims fall for second straight week (August 6, 2020)

KPIX/CBS Bay Area: California’s High Unemployment Rate Signals More COVID-19-Related Hardships (August 6, 2020)

San Jose Mercury News: Fewer unemployed California workers expect to regain old jobs (August 6, 2020)

CNBC: In California, 57% seeking unemployment benefits lost their jobs for a second time (August 6, 2020)

The Week: What California’s unemployment numbers tell us about the COVID depression (August 6, 2020)

San Francisco Chronicle: Many of California’s recent unemployment claims are people refiling after temporary jobs, study finds (August 6, 2020)

CNBC: The $600 unemployment boost has ended. What’s next? (July 31, 2020)

San Francisco Chronicle: California jobless claims reach 9 million since mid-March amid record-shattering economic plunge (July 30, 2020)

Capital Public Radio: Low-Wage Workers Nervous As $600-A-Week Unemployment Stimulus Expires (July 30, 2020)

CNBC: GOP unemployment plan hurts these groups the most (July 29, 2020)

LAist: Could California Step Up To Replace Expiring Federal Unemployment Benefits? (July 29, 2020)

Los Angeles Times: California could create its own $600 weekly unemployment benefit (July 28, 2020)

Sacramento Bee: California’s recession could get worse if Congress cuts unemployment aid, studies say (July 28, 2020)

Lake County News: New analysis looks at how increased unemployment benefit helped state’s workers (July 28, 2020)

Sacramento Bee: From $600 a week to $200: How Republicans want to cut coronavirus unemployment benefits (July 27, 2020)

Sacramento Bee: Extra $600 unemployment payments are ending — will they ever return? Here’s what we know (July 24, 2020)

LAist: Hundreds Of Thousands Are Behind On Rent. Why Won’t Politicians Cancel It? (July 24, 2020)

CBS 8 (San Diego): What’s next for Californians with extra $600 in unemployment set to expire on Sunday? (July 23, 2020)

Sacramento Bee: $600 benefit for unemployed workers would be reduced but not ended under new Trump plan (July 23, 2020)

ABC 7: Interview about the Expiring FPUC Benefit (July 20, 2020)

Sacramento Bee: Unemployed workers’ extra $600 benefit is about to expire — but Democrats have new plans (July 20, 2020)

CalMatters: Chaos in unemployment insurance (July 9, 2020)

Sacramento Bee: Still on hold: California’s unemployment call center is broken. When will it get fixed? (July 2, 2020)

KQED: Over Half of Hospitality Workers Lose Their Jobs in San Francisco Area (June 25, 2020)

Fresno Bee: How a pandemic exposed racial inequality, food insecurity in California’s Central Valley (June 18, 2020)

Sacramento Bee: California’s economic recovery is among the slowest in the nation. Here’s why (June 18, 2020)

San Francisco Public Press: Construction Ramps Up in S.F. — for Now (June 16, 2020)

HuffPost: Trump Administration Says It’s Not Forcing People Back To Work. Workers Disagree (June 13, 2020)

La Voz News: With no support students cannot continue to pay the same price for tuition (June 12, 2020)

KPCC: A Growing Number Of Laid-Off Californians Are Getting Back To Work (June 11, 2020)

Sacramento Bee: Jobs in California are coming back after coronavirus lockdown. But not for everyone (June 11, 2020)

San Jose Mercury News: Coronavirus: California unemployment claims rise for second straight week (June 11, 2020)

USA Today California Newsletter: Unemployment claims are down, but is that a good thing? (June 11, 2020)

Sacramento Bee: Pandemic unemployment benefit is set to expire. Will a back-to-work bonus replace it? (June 9, 2020)

Los Angeles Times: There’s a black jobs crisis. Coronavirus is making it worse (June 5, 2020)

Business Insider: Coronavirus layoffs have not been equal. Here are the workers that have been hit hardest by pandemic job losses (May 30, 2020)

PBS NewsHour: 3 charts reveal how the COVID-19 unemployment crisis isn’t over (May 29, 2020)

Sacramento Bee: How fast will Sacramento bounce back from mass layoffs? There’s pessimism, and a glimmer of hope (May 24, 2020)

Capital Public Radio: ‘Like Nothing Before Seen’: California Lost Record 2.3 Million Jobs In April As Unemployment Rate Spiked To 15.5% (May 22, 2020)

Sacramento Bee: These groups have been hit especially hard by California’s unemployment surge (May 26, 2020)

CNBC: How Unemployment Insurance Abroad Compares To The U.S. (May 22, 2020)

Sacramento Bee: Will laid-off California workers get their old jobs back? Most think they will (May 21, 2020)

KNX AM Radio: Interview with Till von Wachter (May 7, 2020)

Barrons: Laid-Off Workers Show Confidence They’ll Be Rehired (May 8, 2020)

Washington Post: 3.8 million Americans sought jobless benefits last week, extending pandemic’s grip on the national workforce (April 30, 2020)

538: Nearly 20 Percent Of The U.S. Labor Force Has Filed For Unemployment Since Mid-March (April 30, 2020)

San Jose Mercury News: Coronavirus unemployment: California jobless claim filings slow (April 30, 2020)

KPCC/LAist: Study Estimates 1 In 5 Californians Have Applied For Unemployment (April 30, 2020)

CalMatters: Which Californians are filing for unemployment insurance? (May 1, 2020)

Sacramento News and Review: After the COVID-19 pandemic, will the economy be better for workers? (April 29, 2020)

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