Jul 2, 2020 - Economy & Business

People of color and those with the lowest incomes are most likely to be relying on unemployment

People wait in line to file for unemployment

Photo: John Sommers II/Getty Images

Workers of color, women and the lowest-income people are more likely to be relying on unemployment benefits this month, according to projections released by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The weekly unemployment claims report doesn't have a demographic breakdown of who's receiving unemployment aid.

  • The CBO's estimates, done by extrapolating from other government jobs data, mirror other data that show the unevenness of whose employment situations have been uprooted by the coronavirus crisis. It also shows who's relying most on unemployment benefits.

By the numbers: 10% of white workers in the labor force are estimated to receive unemployment insurance benefits this month. That figure is 4 percentage points higher for Hispanics (and equally higher for other nonwhite workers). It's about 6 percentage points higher for Black workers.

  • By sex: 13% of women in the labor force will receive benefits, more than the 11% of men who are estimated to receive it this month.
  • By household income: Roughly 17% of the labor force that's in the lowest income quartile is expected to get unemployment benefits, a bigger fraction than all other earnings groups.

Between the lines: The CBO data also estimates that 76% of jobless workers will receive unemployment insurance this month — a sign that benefits will keep them afloat as they endure lost working income. But the more generous unemployment payments are set to expire before the end of the month.

  • 81% of unemployed Black Americans, 71% of Hispanics who are jobless and 78% of unemployed whites are projected to receive unemployment.
  • Among the least educated unemployed workers, only 60% are expected to receive unemployment benefits "because a relatively large fraction of people in that group will not qualify for such benefits (in part because of their citizenship status)," the CBO says.

Of note: The estimates — done at the request of Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) — also don't take into account self-employed workers, who are newly eligible for unemployment insurance since the passage of the federal stimulus bill.

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