Race and Economy

Black, Latino workers much more likely to have unemployment claims rejected, analysis finds

Nova Safo Jul 31, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
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Analysis from the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington think tank, finds that Black and Latino workers are having their unemployment claims rejected at disproportionately higher rates, compared to white workers. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images
Race and Economy

Black, Latino workers much more likely to have unemployment claims rejected, analysis finds

Nova Safo Jul 31, 2020
Analysis from the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington think tank, finds that Black and Latino workers are having their unemployment claims rejected at disproportionately higher rates, compared to white workers. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images
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While Congress figures out the next round of unemployment aid, a new survey suggests states have some work to do to distribute that aid more fairly.

Analysis from the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington think tank, finds that Black and Latino workers are having their unemployment claims rejected at disproportionately higher numbers compared to white workers.

The Bipartisan Policy Center was conducting a survey with Morning Consult of workers on unemployment insurance, when pollsters discovered something odd: By only talking to those on unemployment aid, minorities were being significantly underrepresented in the survey.

So, they went back and talked to respondents who had told them their aid applications were rejected, and they made a surprising discovery.

“What we found was when people of color applied for unemployment benefits, they were much less likely to be approved,” said Ben Gitis, senior policy analyst at the BPC.

The survey found that white workers made up 78% of aid recipients, even though they accounted for only half of all unemployed workers.

By contrast, Black and Latino workers made up nearly 40% of the unemployed, but were less than 20% of aid recipients.

Why is this happening? Gitis said analysts are not sure.

“But it is noteworthy, particularly right now because Black and Hispanic individuals are carrying a lot of the burden of job loss,” he said.

Gitis said policymakers need to take a look at how eligibility for aid is crafted to make sure more of the unemployed are covered.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

How are Americans feeling about their finances?

Nearly half of all Americans would have trouble paying for an unexpected $250 bill and a third of Americans have less income than before the pandemic, according to the latest results of our Marketplace-Edison Poll. Also, 6 in 10 Americans think that race has at least some impact on an individual’s long-term financial situation, but Black respondents are much more likely to think that race has a big impact on a person’s long-term financial situation than white or Hispanic/Latinx respondents.

Find the rest of the poll results here, which cover how Americans have been faring financially about six months into the pandemic, race and equity within the workplace and some of the key issues Trump and Biden supporters are concerned about.

Are people still waiting for unemployment payments?

Yes. There is no way to know exactly how many people have been waiting for months and are still not getting unemployment, because states do not have a good system in place for tracking that kind of data, according to Andrew Stettner of The Century Foundation. But by his own calculations, only about 60% of people who have applied for benefits are currently receiving them. That means there are millions still waiting. Read more here on what they are doing about it.

What’s going to happen to retailers, especially with the holiday shopping season approaching?

A report out Tuesday from the accounting consultancy BDO USA said 29 big retailers filed for bankruptcy protection through August. And if bankruptcies continue at that pace, the number could rival the bankruptcies of 2010, after the Great Recession. For retailers, the last three months of this year will be even more critical than usual for their survival as they look for some hope around the holidays.

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