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Posts tagged with: "CCSA"

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The unemployment benefits of the CARES Act

Expanding the definition of unemployed

If you’ve visited this blog before, you may have come across the official definition of unemployed: One needs to be currently looking for work, ready to work, and willing to work.

There are also requirements for receiving unemployment insurance benefits (e.g., previous work, waiting periods, eligibility periods, and asset tests) that vary across time periods and states. Plus, specific circumstances may affect benefits: How did you lose your job? Did you work sufficiently long before unemployment? Did you wait long enough before making your claim? Has your eligibility expired?

Given all these criteria and the time it takes to process a claim, there should be more unemployed persons overall than persons currently receiving unemployment insurance benefits. But the FRED graph above shows that the impossible has happened: More people are receiving benefits than are unemployed. What gives?

The specifics of the CARES Act allow people to receive benefits so that they do not have to report to work if their health conditions make it too dangerous. In such cases, the beneficiary is not technically unemployed, as there is no active job search going on. But benefits are still received through the unemployment insurance program of the person’s respective state.

How this graph was created: Search for and select the “continued claims” series. From the “Edit Graph” panel, use the “Add Line” tab to search for and select the “unemployment level” series; then apply formula a*1000 to get the same units. Finally, restrict the sample period to highlight the discussed episode.

Suggested by Christian Zimmermann.

View on FRED, series used in this post: CCSA, UNEMPLOY

Losing your job doesn’t always gain you unemployment benefits

Requirements and trends behind unemployment insurance

Being unemployed does not guarantee that you’ll receive benefits from your local unemployment insurance program. Typically, there are eligibility criteria, such as previous work requirements, waiting periods, eligibility periods, and asset tests. These criteria can be stringent, depending on the political choices behind them. The graph above compares the U.S. unemployment rate with the segment of the labor force receiving unemployment insurance benefits. It is very clear that, most of the time, only a minority of the unemployed receive benefits.

The graph below focuses on that segment, showing the proportion of the unemployed that receives insurance benefits. Obviously, there are cyclical variations: At the start of a recession, proportionally more unemployed haven’t yet run out of eligibility. There also appears to be a longer-run trend that has been decreasing the segment of those eligible for benefits.

Update: The insurance claim numbers cover those who get regular state unemployment insurance benefits. There are also those who get benefits under the extended benefit and the emergency unemployment compensation programs, whose proportions tends to be higher during recessions. See this article for an analysis of these details.

How these graphs were created: Search for “unemployment insurance claims” and click on the series. From the “Edit Graph” section, add the “civilian labor force” series and click on “Apply.” Then enter formula a/b/10 (where the 10 makes it a percentage). Then open the “Add Line” tab and search for the unemployment rate; take the monthly, seasonally adjusted series. That’s the first graph. For the second, remove the line you just added, but add that series to the first line and apply formula a/b/c*10.

Suggested by Christian Zimmermann.

View on FRED, series used in this post: CCSA, CLF16OV, UNRATE

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