May 7th 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.

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May 7th Policy Brief

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

REPORT: May 7th Analysis of Unemployment Insurance Claims in California During the COVID-19 Pandemic  PDF

PRESS RELEASE: New Analysis of Unemployment Insurance Claims in California Provides Detailed Snapshot of How COVID-19 is Impacting California Workers, Industries, and Counties

Key Research Findings

1. 80% of initial claimants report they expect to be recalled to their prior job, down from 90% at the peak of the crisis, and a substantial increase from 40% who had this expectation before the crisis.

2. All races and ethnicities were affected by the crisis, but the share of Asian claimants experienced an increase in the share of initial claims, particularly among Accommodation and Food Services and Health Care/ Social Assistance Services.

3. The fraction of the labor force that filed initial UI claims since mid-March rose to 18.8% statewide, to 45% for less educated workers, and to 30% for workers in their early 20s.

4. The number of initial claims has declined for three consecutive weeks, but claims in the week ending April 25th were still eight times the pre-crisis average in February.

5. While there are important similarities in the effect of the crisis across counties in California, industries in certain counties were more affected than others.

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