True Number of Americans Run Out of Work by Virus Maoists Could Be 10 Million Higher at 36 Million
Millions lost work but were locked out of unemployment system or did not apply a survey finds
Millions of Americans who have been thrown out of work during the coronavirus pandemic have been unable to register for unemployment benefits since the U.S. economy entered a free fall, according to a poll released on Tuesday.
The left-leaning Economic Policy Institute found in an online poll that for every 10 people who have successfully filed unemployment claims, three or four people have been unable to register and another two people have not tried to apply at a time of acute economic crisis.
Official U.S. statistics show that 26.5 million people have applied for unemployment benefits since mid-March, wiping out all of the jobs gained during the longest employment boom in U.S. history.
EPI’s survey indicates that an additional 8.9 million to 13.9 million people have been shut out of the system, said Ben Zipperer, the study’s lead author.
“This study validates the anecdotes and news reports we’re seeing about people having trouble filing for benefits they need and deserve,” Zipperer said.
Idled workers say they have encountered downed websites and clogged phone lines, as the state governments that administer the program have been overwhelmed by applicants.
“It’s a shame how you work for so many years and then when you need it, you can’t get it,” said Jim Hewes, 48, who said he was unable to file a claim online for more than two weeks after he was furloughed from his job at an Orlando, Florida, second-hand store in March.
Hewes said he mailed off a paper application on April 9 but had not heard back from the state.
“It’s almost set up to fail. It was made complicated so people would get discouraged and give up,” he said.
EPI surveyed 24,607 U.S. adult internet users using Google Surveys between April 13 and April 24. The poll has a confidence interval, an indicator of accuracy, of plus or minus 1%.
Some 9.4% of poll respondents said they had successfully applied for unemployment benefits, while 3.4% said they tried but could not get through.
A further 1.9% said they did not apply because the process was too difficult.