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28 Apr, 2020 14:58

US unemployment may be as high as 40 MILLION - national poll

US unemployment may be as high as 40 MILLION - national poll

The soaring jobless rate in the US due to the Covid-19 outbreak may be far worse than the official data shows, as millions of Americans have been unable to file for unemployment insurance, a poll finds.

The number of those who filed for unemployment surpassed 26 million, after an additional 4.4 million claims were filed last week. As more and more people are seeking financial aid amid massive layoffs triggered by the deadly pandemic, some have complained of glitches in the government’s online system.

It turns out the frustration over the application process could have resulted in massive undercounting in the official number of unemployment applications, according to the Economic Policy Institute (ERI). The researchers say that millions could have filed for benefits if not for the difficulties, while just half of the applicants are actually receiving benefits.

The results of its online survey, released on Tuesday, indicate that for every 10 people who have successfully filed for unemployment benefits, at least three couldn’t get through the system to make a claim, while another two decided not to even try as they found the process “too difficult.”

“We estimate that an additional 8.9 ‒13.9 million people could have filed for benefits had the process been easier,” the authors of the poll concluded after extrapolating their findings to the full five weeks of claims since March 15.

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“These findings imply the official count of unemployment insurance claims likely drastically understates the extent of employment reductions and the need for economic relief during the coronavirus crisis.”

The EPI poll, conducted between April 13 and 24, targeted 25,000 US adult internet users. The majority of the participants (more than 68 percent) said that they did not apply as they managed to keep their jobs, while over 15 percent found themselves ineligible for benefits. Of those who did apply, around 1.6 percent were rejected, with the EPI saying that this may have happened as states were unable to process applicants with expanded eligibility.

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