As unemployment has soared during the early weeks of the COVID-19 crisis, tens of millions of workers who are out of work due to the crisis—disproportionately women and Black people and Latinx people—have filed Unemployment Insurance (UI) claims. While the crisis has brought attention to the UI system’s ability to reduce hardship and stimulate the economy, the crisis has also highlighted the UI system gaps that need long-term structural fixes.
The short-term fixes to UI in the March 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, including the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, will reach many un- and under-employed workers who are not typically eligible for UI. However, a substantial share of unemployed jobseekers—including new entrants, such as many students completing school—are excluded if they fall outside the CARES Act’s narrow COVID-19-related eligibility requirements. A Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) that would provide vital economic and other supports for jobseekers who are not eligible for UI is needed to close these gaps.
This fact sheet is a project of the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality, Employ America, the Economic Policy Institute, the National Women’s Law Center, the National Employment Law Project, and The Century Foundation.