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Economic News Release
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Characteristics of Unemployment Insurance Applicants and Benefit Recipients Summary

For release 10:00 a.m. (EDT) Wednesday, September 25, 2019 		    USDL-19-1692

Technical information: (202) 691-6378 * cpsinfo@bls.gov * www.bls.gov/cps
Media contact:         (202) 691-5902 * PressOffice@bls.gov


         CHARACTERISTICS OF UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE APPLICANTS
                    AND BENEFIT RECIPIENTS -- 2018


In 2018, about 1 in 4 (23 percent) of the unemployed who worked in the 
past 12 months had applied for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, the 
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Of the unemployed who had 
not applied, 3 out of 5 did not apply because they did not believe they 
were eligible to receive UI benefits.

Only people who have previously worked are eligible for UI benefits, 
and they generally must apply shortly after their last job. Therefore, 
estimates presented in this news release are restricted to people who 
had worked at some point in the 12 months prior to the survey. In 2018, 
about 90 percent of the unemployed had worked in the last 12 months. 
Other unemployed people, including those who entered the labor force 
for the first time and those who last worked more than a year ago, are 
excluded from these data. 

This information was obtained in a supplement to the Current Population 
Survey (CPS), a monthly sample survey of about 60,000 households that 
provides data on employment and unemployment in the United States. This 
supplement, which was conducted in May and September 2018, was sponsored 
by the U.S. Department of Labor's Chief Evaluation Office. Estimates in
this news release--referred to as 2018 estimates--are averages of data 
collected in both months. The official measure of unemployment from the 
CPS is based on job search and current availability for employment, rather 
than on application for or receipt of UI benefits. A more detailed 
description of the concepts and definitions used in the supplement is 
included in the Technical Note in this news release.

Highlights from the 2018 data:

   --The majority--77 percent--of unemployed people who worked in the 
     past 12 months had not applied for UI benefits since their last job.
     Twenty-three percent of unemployed people who worked in the past 12 
     months had applied for UI benefits. (See table 1.)

   --Unemployed people covered by a union contract on their last job were 
     about twice as likely to have applied for UI benefits as those who 
     were not covered: 45 percent versus 22 percent. (See table 2.)

   --Among unemployed people who had not applied for UI benefits, 61 percent 
     did not apply because they thought they were ineligible to receive 
     benefits. Another 12 percent cited attitudes about or barriers to 
     applying, such as they did not need the money, they had a negative 
     attitude about UI, they did not know about UI, or they had problems 
     with the application process. (See table 3.)

   --Two-thirds of unemployed people who had applied for UI benefits since 
     their last job received benefits. (See table 1.)

Unemployment Insurance Applicants

In 2018, 23 percent of the unemployed who worked in the past 12 months 
had applied for UI benefits since their last job. (See table 1.) 

The likelihood of applying for UI benefits varied by reason for 
unemployment. Thirty-eight percent of job losers and people who
completed temporary jobs had applied for UI benefits since their 
last job. The figure was lower for people with other reasons for 
unemployment: 10 percent each for both job leavers and for reentrants 
to the labor force who worked in the last year. (Job leavers are 
unemployed people who left their jobs voluntarily, and reentrants are 
unemployed people who have past work experience but were not in the 
labor force before beginning their current job search.) 

People who had been unemployed for 15 to 26 weeks were more likely to apply 
for UI benefits (33 percent) than were people with other durations of 
joblessness. Those unemployed for less than 5 weeks were the least likely 
to apply for UI benefits, at 16 percent. 

Unemployed men were more likely than unemployed women to have applied 
for UI benefits (25 percent, compared with 21 percent). There was little 
difference in the likelihood of applying for benefits by race or Hispanic 
ethnicity.

Young people were the least likely to apply for UI benefits: 7 percent of 
unemployed people ages 16 to 24 had applied since their last job. By 
contrast, 28 percent of unemployed people ages 25 to 54 and 31 percent 
of unemployed people age 55 and older had applied for benefits.

In general, unemployed people with higher educational attainment were more 
likely to have applied for UI benefits than were those with lower educational 
attainment. Among unemployed people age 25 and older, 34 percent of those 
with a bachelor's degree and higher had applied for UI benefits. By 
contrast, 22 percent of those with less than a high school diploma had 
applied. 

Unemployed people with a professional certification or license, who tend to 
have greater educational attainment, were more likely to have applied for UI 
benefits than those without such a credential (31 percent, compared with 
22 percent). 

People last employed in management, professional, and related occupations 
were the most likely to have applied for UI benefits (32 percent), 
compared with people in other major occupational groups. Those last employed 
in service occupations were the least likely to have applied (14 percent). 
(See table 2.) 

By industry, unemployed people who last worked in leisure and hospitality 
(12 percent) and in other services (11 percent) were least likely to have 
applied for UI benefits. In other industries, the likelihood of applying 
ranged from 42 percent for financial activities to 22 percent for wholesale 
and retail trade. 

Unemployed people who were covered by a union contract on their last job 
were about twice as likely to have applied for UI benefits, 45 percent 
compared with 22 percent of those who were not covered.

Reason for Not Applying for Unemployment Insurance Benefits

Of the unemployed in 2018 who worked in the last 12 months but did not 
apply for UI benefits, 61 percent did not apply because they believed 
they were ineligible. Eligibility issues include: their work was not 
covered by UI, they quit their job, they were terminated for misconduct, 
they had insufficient past work, and they had previously exhausted their 
benefits. (See table 3.)

Twelve percent of unemployed people who had not applied for UI benefits 
had not done so because of attitudes about or barriers to applying--for 
example, they did not need the money or want the hassle, they had a 
negative attitude about UI, they did not know about UI or did not know how 
to apply, or they had problems with the application process. 

Another 22 percent of unemployed people who had not applied for UI benefits 
reported other reasons, such as they expected to start work soon, they did 
not apply for personal reasons, or they planned to file for benefits soon. 

About 5 percent of unemployed people who had not applied for UI benefits 
did not provide a reason for not applying.

Unemployment Insurance Benefit Recipients

In 2018, 67 percent of unemployed people who had applied for UI 
benefits since their last job received benefits. (See table 1.)

Among unemployed applicants, 70 percent of job losers and people 
who completed temporary jobs and 62 percent of reentrants to the labor 
force received benefits. This was higher than the figure of 42 percent 
for job leavers.

Applicants who were unemployed less than 5 weeks were less likely to receive 
benefits (45 percent) than were those with longer durations of joblessness. 
For example, 75 percent of applicants unemployed for 27 weeks and over had 
received benefits.

Men and women who applied for UI benefits were about equally likely to have 
received benefits (67 percent and 66 percent, respectively). There was 
little difference in the likelihood of receiving benefits by race and 
Hispanic ethnicity.

Older applicants were more likely than younger applicants to have received 
UI benefits since their last job. Seventy-seven percent of applicants age 
55 and older had received UI benefits, compared with 66 percent of applicants 
ages 25 to 54, and 46 percent of applicants ages 16 to 24. 

Applicants who were college graduates were more likely to have received 
UI benefits than applicants with lower levels of education. Among applicants 
age 25 and older, 77 percent of those with a bachelor's degree and higher had 
received UI benefits since their last job. By comparison, 57 percent of 
applicants with less than a high school diploma had received UI benefits.

Seventy-three percent of applicants with a certification or license 
had received UI benefits, compared with 66 percent of those without 
a certification or license.

The percentage of applicants who had received benefits ranged from 59 
percent for those who last worked in production, transportation, and 
material moving occupations to 72 percent for those in natural resources, 
construction, and maintenance occupations. The majority of all applicants 
had received benefits, regardless of the industry of their last job. 
(See table 2.) 

Applicants who were covered by a union contract in their last job were more 
likely to have received UI benefits. About four-fifths of applicants who 
were covered by a union contract had received benefits since their last job, 
compared with two-thirds of applicants who were not covered.

People Marginally Attached to the Labor Force

Some individuals may be eligible for UI benefits even though they were 
not classified as unemployed in the survey. In 2018, 17 percent of people
marginally attached to the labor force had applied for UI benefits since 
their last job. (These estimates are restricted to people who had worked 
in the past 12 months.) (See table 4.)

People marginally attached to the labor force are those who are neither 
employed nor unemployed, who want a job, have searched for work during 
the prior 12 months (but not in the last 4 weeks), and were available to 
take a job. If they had looked for work in the last 4 weeks, they would be 
counted as unemployed.

More than half (54 percent) of people marginally attached to the labor 
force had not applied for UI benefits since their last job because they 
believed they were ineligible to receive benefits.  Another 14 percent had 
not applied due to attitudes about or barriers to applying for UI benefits, 
and 23 percent had not applied for UI benefits for other reasons. Nine 
percent of people marginally attached to the labor force who had not 
applied for UI benefits did not provide a reason for not applying. 
(See table 5.)



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Last Modified Date: September 25, 2019