As U.S. jobless claims surged in March, some states lagged with payments
Fewer than one in five Americans who filed for unemployment benefits in March received their first payments before the month was over, shedding light on how states struggled to distribute initial benefits after facing an unprecedented wave of claims caused by the coronavirus.
Nationally, just 14.21% of the nearly 12 million people who filed initial jobless claims in March received their first payments that same month, according to Labor Department data released this week. In some states, the share of people receiving benefits was significantly lower, showing that newly jobless Americans in some parts of the country are facing much longer waits for benefits than others. “They are struggling with the demand and that is very frustrating to people,” said Andrew Stettner, a senior fellow at The Century Foundation, which published an analysis on the state trends on Wednesday. “This data gives you a sense of it.”
Under federal rules, states have up to three weeks to make initial payments from the time a claim is filed, Stettner said. Since many states did not put lockdowns or stay-at-home orders in place until mid- to late March, it’s possible some states caught up with payments in April. 1st May 2020