Unpacking inequities in unemployment insurance

September 17, 2020 New America

Abstract

Over the course of eight weeks, the New Practice Lab interviewed Black and Latinx workers that lost their job or income due to COVID-19 about their experiences navigating unemployment insurance (UI). We also spoke with experts to better understand the policies and political landscape that have shaped the UI system. This report unpacks the compounding inequities that exist in the unemployment insurance system, making it less accessible for workers of color.

Our hope for this report is that it might open people’s eyes to the deeply rooted, interconnected systems that hurt Black and Brown workers and their families. We also hope that policymakers might use it to broaden the type of experts they invite to the table when creating policy—from user researchers and data scientists to, most importantly, the people themselves that these policies are intended for. Our bet is that, if UI is rife with these “compounding inequities” so are other critical government programs. Decision-makers and subject matters experts would do well to cross-pollinate with experts in other areas—even, and especially when, they seem entirely unrelated—because odds are, they are not. It was designed that way.

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