July 2nd Analysis of Unemployment Insurance Claims in California During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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.

The Policy Briefs are updated on a monthly basis.

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July 2nd Policy Brief

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

REPORT: July 2nd Analysis of Unemployment Insurance Claims in California During the COVID-19 Pandemic  PDF

PRESS RELEASE: New Analysis: Over One in Six California Workers Currently Receiving Unemployment

Key Research Findings

1. In the week ending June 6th, 3.2 million claimants, or about 16.4% of the CA labor force in February, were potentially eligible to receive unemployment insurance benefits, meaning they were either paid benefits for unemployment that week, or were denied payment due to excess earnings or Full-Time Work. This finding is based on a new measure of continuing UI claims that counts individuals when they receive benefits, rather than number of payments in the week in which a claimant certifies for them.

2. Initial UI Claims have been double the Great Recession peak in 5 of the last 6 weeks, and are now rising again.

3. In a sign of partly improving labor market conditions, the share of paid claimants who report some earnings (Partial UI) has been steadily rising, and the share of claimants potentially eligible for payment but are deemed ineligible due to excess earnings remains elevated relative to early in the crisis. The report shows there was a particular increase among claimants from Retail Sales and Accommodation and Food Services.

4.The reported rate of recall has reversed its downward trend, but the gap in recall expectations between Black claimants and others persists.

5. The labor market crisis has been more severe for some demographic groups than others, with women, younger workers, and Black and Asian Workers seeing a larger share of workers receive UI payments in the week ending June 6th.

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