Background: 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.
These Policy Briefs are updated on a monthly basis.
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April 29th Policy Brief
By Thomas J. Hedin,Geoffrey Schnorr and Till von Wachter
Key Research Findings:
1) Younger workers made up a disproportionately large share of initial Unemployment Insurance claims.
Claimants aged 20–24 made up 14% of total claimants since March 15th, despite only representing 9% of the state’s labor force in February, while initial claimants aged 25–34 made up 29% of the total during that period despite representing only 25% of the workforce in February.
2) Lower-educated workers made up a disproportionately large share of claims.
Since March 15th, a staggering 36.7% of individuals in the labor force with just a high school degree filed initial UI claims (compared to 11.9% for workers with some college or an Associate’s degree, and 5.7% for those with a Bachelor’s degree).
3) Almost 90% of all initial UI claimants during the surge of UI claims in the last two weeks reported that they expect to be recalled to their previous employers. In comparison, around 40-50% of initial UI claimants during February reported the same expectation.
4) 14.4% of the California labor force has filed initial Unemployment Insurance claims since mid-March. This includes nearly 1 in 3 Food and Accommodation workers and 1 in 5 workers in Retail.While both the Accommodation and Food Services industry and the Retail Trade industry each account for about 11% of the state’s labor force, they respectively accounted for over 21% and close to 14% of initial UI claims since mid-March.
5) All counties have seen substantial growth in initial UI claims, but the rise has been more pronounced in several usually economically strong areas of the state, including the Bay Area, LA, and Southern California. In Los Angeles County, 16.1% of the labor force filed initial UI claims since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, while in Fresno, 12% of individuals in the labor force filed initial claims during the same period.