Data Point: Impact of the $600 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program in California

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.

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Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program in California

By Thomas J. Hedin,Geoffrey Schnorr and Till von Wachter

Overview: In March, in recognition of the unique challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress passed the CARES ACT, which authorized adding an extra $600 payment to all regular UI benefits from March 29th until July 25th. This DataPoint provides an overview of the impact of FPUC on California as well as policy considerations for any program that replaces FPUC.

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 about the FPUC Program in California:

1) FPUC payments injected $26 billion into California’s economy between late March and July. (editor’s note: As of September 26, 2020, the program had paid out $50.7 billion to claimants in California).

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.

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