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errata

On October 23, 2019, we discovered data errors in the news release published September 25 on which this article is based. The news release was reissued with corrected data on November 7, 2019. This article reflects the corrected data.

Most unemployed people in 2018 did not apply for unemployment insurance benefits

October 01, 2019

In 2018, 74 percent of the unemployed people who had worked in the previous 12 months had not applied for unemployment insurance benefits since their last job. Of the unemployed who had not applied, 3 out of 5 did not apply because they did not believe they were eligible to receive benefits. Eligibility issues include: their work was not covered by unemployment insurance, they quit their job, they were terminated for misconduct, they had insufficient past work, or they had previously exhausted their benefits.

Percent distribution of unemployed people who did not apply for unemployment insurance benefits by the main reason for not applying, 2018
Reason Percent of unemployed who had worked in the previous 12 months

Eligibility issues

59.1%

Other reasons for not applying for benefits

24.8

Attitude about or barrier to applying for benefits

11.5

Reason not provided

4.6

Another 12 percent of unemployed people who had not applied for unemployment insurance benefits had not done so because of attitudes about or barriers to applying. For example, they did not need the money or want the hassle, they had a negative attitude about unemployment insurance, they did not know about unemployment insurance or did not know how to apply, or they had problems with the application process.

Twenty-five percent of unemployed people who had not applied for benefits reported other reasons, such as they expected to start work soon, they did not apply for personal reasons, or they planned to file for benefits soon.

About 5 percent of unemployed people who had not applied for benefits did not provide a reason for not applying.

These data are from the Current Population Survey. For more information, see “Characteristics of Unemployment Insurance Applicants and Benefit Recipients — 2018” and our answers to frequently asked questions. Data refer to unemployed people who worked in the past 12 months. Estimates are an average of data collected in May and September 2018.

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Most unemployed people in 2018 did not apply for unemployment insurance benefits on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2019/most-unemployed-people-in-2018-did-not-apply-for-unemployment-insurance-benefits.htm (visited August 07, 2020).

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