Sunday, April 23, 2023

[NJFAC] Racial Disparities in Unemployment Insurance

Racial Differences in Unemployment Insurance

There are many racial disparities in employment - and  Elizabeth Ananat (Barnard) and Anna Gassman-Pines (Duke) find racial disparities for those who have lost their jobs as well, as reported in our newest EconoFact memo, Racial Differences in Unemployment Insurance. These results are based on their ongoing survey of hourly service workers in Philadelphia.  Not only were a higher proportion of Black and Hispanic workers laid off as compared to White workers, a smaller proportion of these unemployed workers received unemployment insurance (UI).  Their research finds:  

  • Only one-third of the surveyed Black and Hispanic laid-off service workers received UI and the legislated supplement in a timely manner as compared to more than half of White workers.
  • There were more leakages in every stage of the process of applying for, and receiving, UI for Black and Hispanic workers as compared to White workers. These workers were less likely to apply for UI and those who applied were less likely to receive these benefits, including the special supplemental benefits available during the pandemic.
  • There is a range of reasons for these disparities, including complicated bureaucratic processesoutdated state UI systems, and employers blocking UI claims differentially by race and ethnicity.
  • Liz and Anna also report on the adverse consequences to the unemployed because of a lack of access to UI that include material hardship and worsened mental health.  These occurred across all racial and ethnic groups, but Black and Hispanic workers suffered proportionally more because of their relatively lower access to UI.  

Liz and Anna began this survey in the Fall of 2019. In an earlier EconoFact memo from 2021, Liz and Anna's report results from the survey that document the burdens families faced from frequent, unexpected disruptions in childcare and schools during the pandemic.


June Zaccone
National Jobs for All Network

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