“Unemployment Insurance Recipiency During the Covid-19 Pandemic” (National Tax Journal, 2023)


Abstract: I estimate the share of eligible individuals who received unemployment insurance (UI) benefits during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. I use individual data on reported recipiency from the Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS-ASEC) survey to validate a UI eligibility algorithm that I then apply to the monthly CPS data. Combined with administrative data on actual payments and adjustments for fraud, I estimate that 88 percent of eligible individuals received UI benefits. When I calculate recipiency by program, I find 98 percent of individuals who were eligible for standard UI received benefits, whereas only 76 percent of individuals who were eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance received benefits.