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One-Third of America’s Record Unemployment Payout Hasn’t Arrived

“There’s a lot more money that should have gone out that has not gone out.”
A shopper heads out of an Ace Hardware store past a sign advertising for workers. (David Zalubowski/AP)

Roughly one-third of unemployment benefits are estimated to be unpaid to the millions of Americans who lost their jobs as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Many policies struggle to cope with the unprecedented wave of layoffs.

What We Know:

  • The Treasury disbursed $146 billion in unemployment benefits in the three months through May, according to data published Monday, more than in the whole of 2009 when jobless rates peaked after the financial crisis.
  • Despite that, even this historic figure falls short of a total bill that should have reached about $214 billion for the period, according to Bloomberg calculations based on weekly unemployment filings and the average size of those claims.

  • The estimated gap of some $67 billion shows how emergency efforts to boost payments and deliver them via creaking state-level systems are lagging the needs of a jobs crisis that’s seen more than 40 million people file for unemployment as the economy shuts down.
  • The gaps in America’s social safety net are becoming apparent at the same time as protests erupt over longstanding racial inequities. The debate over how and when to reopen businesses even as the pandemic continues is also turning acrimonious, in a nation that increasingly feels like a tinderbox.
  • There’s “a huge hole,” said Jay Shambaugh, an economist at Brookings Institution who has been tracking the unemployment payments. “There’s a lot more money that should have gone out that has not gone out.”

Economists estimate that another 1.8 million people filed for unemployment last week. That data is due out on Thursday, while Friday’s monthly numbers are forecast to show a jobless rate of 19.5% in May, still rising from the 14.7% just less than a month ago.

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Javier Garay is Media & News SVCS Intern at UnmutedCo. He is currently enrolled in the University of North Georgia seeking a bachelors degree in Film/Digital Media with a concentration in Media Studies. Javier writes for Black News Alerts (BNA) along with social media management for both BNA and BossFM, and is a part of the BNA Daily Podcast Team.

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