America's real coronavirus job losses could be worse than we thought. Nearly 14 million people haven't been able to apply to unemployment since the pandemic began.
- More than 26 million people have applied for
unemployment insurancesince the coronaviruspandemic began. But millions more have been ignored.
- That figure doesn't count an estimated 13.9 million Americans who have not been able to file for unemployment benefits, according to a new survey by the
Economic Policy Institute(EPI).
- The economic downturn will be "even worse" without immediate further aid, said Elise Gould, an EPI economist. Other economists agreed.
- "There's no question that even when the immediate public health crisis is over, we're going to be looking at the worst depression that the US has experienced at least since the Great Depression of the 1930s," said JW Mason, an economist at CUNY's John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
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The coronavirus pandemic has left record-breaking numbers of Americans unemployed. Since mid-March, more than 26 million workers have filed for unemployment insurance.
But that figure is an undercount: Up to 13.9 million more Americans could not file for the benefits, according to a new survey from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).
"We're missing data on millions more people who have lost their job and have unsuccessful with unable to apply or haven't applied yet," Elise Gould, an EPI economist, told Business Insider.
Policymakers have "made great headway" in expanding unemployment benefits during the crisis, Gould said, but the assistance is not coming quickly enough since state unemployment offices are overwhelmed with applications.
More importantly, Gould said, there's too little funding at the state and local level.
"That has been under-appreciated and will continue to cause problems that would be avoidable," Gould said.
For every 10 jobless Americans who applied for unemployment insurance, four tried to but "could not get through the system to make a claim," the EPI found. "Two additional people did not try to apply because it was too difficult to do so."
Since March 15, "an additional 8.9 [million to] 13.9 million people could have filed for benefits had the process been easier," wrote EPI economists Ben Zipperer and Gould.
"We want to do whatever we can to help state and localities get through that period – and not clamp down on the recovery," Gould said.
JW Mason, an economist at CUNY's John Jay College of Criminal Justice, agreed.
"There's no question that even when the immediate public health crisis is over, we're going to be looking at the worst depression that the US has experienced at least since the Great Depression of the 1930s," Mason said.
'Policymakers really need to step up'
Millions of newly jobless Americans are already withstanding severe economic pain, like Sandra Dickson, a small-business owner in Oklahoma who is still waiting on unemployment insurance.
"I'm not quite sure how long I can hold up financially without having to seek help" beyond government aid, Dickson told Business Insider earlier in April. "I'm really struggling with that issue and I've been starting to call others in similar situations and just struggling with when do I open my doors for finances versus the health net for me."
But financial and personal well-being should not be mutually exclusive, Gould said.
"People are under the false impression that there's this dichotomy between protecting people's health and protecting people's economic wellbeing," she said.
"That's where policymakers really need to step up more," she continued. "We can get through this economic devastation if we provide sufficient funding to households and to state and local governments to get through this."
Without swift further action, Gould said, the looming economic recession will get "even worse."
Policymakers have all the tools they need to keep households and state and local governments afloat, the economists said. The key is simple: More funding.
The scale of stimulus funding, they said, needs to address the evictions sure to come from people unable to pay rent, and other economic ripple effects from the crisis.
"If we can get enough spending at the federal level, we can stop this from turning into a deep depression," Mason told Business Insider. "But it's going to take a stimulus well beyond what we've already seen."
"We can get through this economic devastation if we provide sufficient funding to households and to state and local governments to get through this," Gould added.Read the original article on Business Insider
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