End the duopoly

Nearly one in four workers has applied for unemployment benefits

Last week, 3.3 million workers applied for unemployment benefits.

That is an improvement over the 6 million per week we saw in late March/early April, but is an increase from the prior week—and is still well over three times the worst week of the Great Recession.

Of the 3.3 million who applied for unemployment benefits last week, 2.2 million applied for regular state unemployment insurance (UI), and 1.2 million applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).

PUA is the new federal program for workers who are not eligible for regular UI (e.g., gig workers) but are still out of work as a result of the virus.

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At this point, 15 states and the District of Columbia are not yet reporting PUA data, so PUA claims are being undercounted. Note, the number of PUA claims for Massachusetts was misreported as 1,184,792.

It should have been 115,952. I have corrected for that error throughout this blog post.

It is also worth noting that the Department of Labor (DOL) reports that 2.4 million workers applied for regular state unemployment insurance last week on a “seasonally adjusted” basis, compared with 2.2 million on an unadjusted basis.

Seasonal adjustments are usually helpful—they are used to even out […]

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