Characteristics of People Receiving Regular Unemployment Benefits in July 2020
In this letter, CBO describes the characteristics—race, sex, age, education, and household earnings—of the 19 million people who are expected to receive regular unemployment benefits in July 2020.
At the request of Chairman Neal, CBO has projected the characteristics of some groups that will receive unemployment insurance benefits during the month of July 2020. For reasons described below, CBO reports those characteristics only for the subset of unemployment insurance recipients, 19 million people, who are expected to receive regular unemployment benefits in July—not for people who are eligible for other unemployment assistance that was enacted in response to the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. CBO’s findings, which are enumerated in the table at the end of this letter, are as follows:
- Overall. About 12 percent of people in the labor force and about 76 percent of the unemployed will receive regular unemployment benefits in July, CBO estimates.
- Race and Ethnicity. About 14 percent of Hispanics in the labor force will receive benefits, 16 percent of African Americans, 10 percent of whites, and 14 percent of other races. Among the unemployed population, Hispanics (71 percent) will be somewhat less likely than other groups to receive unemployment benefits. Among those receiving benefits, 47 percent will be nonwhite.
- Sex. About 13 percent of women and 11 percent of men in the labor force will receive benefits in July, CBO estimates. Among the unemployed population, women (77 percent) will be somewhat more likely than men (75 percent) to receive unemployment benefits.
- Age. About 17 percent of people in the labor force who are between 16 and 30 years of age will receive benefits, CBO estimates, a larger fraction than for other age groups. The share of unemployed workers who will receive benefits will not vary significantly with age.
- Education. People in the labor force who have not graduated from college will be more likely to receive benefits than college graduates. Yet among unemployed people, those who have not graduated from high school will be the least likely—60 percent—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).
- Household Earnings. About 17 percent of people in the labor force who are projected to have earnings in the lowest quartile of households will receive benefits, a larger fraction than for other earnings groups. The share of unemployed workers who will receive benefits will not vary significantly with household earnings. Among those receiving benefits, 41 percent will be in the upper half of the distribution of household earnings.
To respond to Chairman Neal's questions, CBO has projected the labor force status and unemployment benefits of various groups in the U.S. civilian population, using data from the most recent labor force surveys. Because of data limitations, the analysis focused only on the characteristics of people receiving regular unemployment benefits and did not consider people receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), which provides benefits to the self-employed and others who are working less, or not at all, for reasons related to the pandemic. The agency is continuing to study the evolution of unemployment and unemployment insurance in the economic and fiscal environment created by the pandemic.