Men wait at dawn to be the first to step into an accounting store to fill out jobless forms in Calexico, near the U.S.-Mexico border in Imperial County, hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, on July 24th , California.
Photo by Mario Tama / Getty Images
Thousands of California workers are turning to the state's unemployment system for the second time.
According to an analysis published Thursday by the California Policy Lab, more than half of people who recently applied for unemployment benefits in the Golden State had lost their jobs (or cut their hours) after returning to work.
It's a dramatic increase in the coronavirus pandemic from before, and it suggests the capricious nature of economic recovery across the country.
"It has been shown that those fortunate enough to return to work find that this new job is particularly unstable," said Till von Wachter, co-author of the analysis and professor of economics at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Unemployment is still high
California is among the states that had to re-launch measures from earlier in the pandemic to shut down economic sectors in hopes of stopping the recent flare-ups of Covid-19.
Governor Gavin Newsom ordered the bars to close and restaurants to stop in mid-July. Wineries, tasting rooms, cinemas, zoos, family entertainment centers, museums, and card rooms also had to cease indoor operations nationwide.
Officials in states like Texas, Arizona and Florida have reintroduced some shutdown measures in the past few weeks as the number of new coronavirus cases has risen.
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These closings threaten a gradual recovery in May and June, with 7.5 million Americans returning to work. The unemployment rate fell from a high of 14.7% in April to 11.1% in June, still higher than any other period since the Great Depression.
Indeed, jobless claims remain elevated across the country.
Around 1.6 million Americans filed new claims for unemployment benefits last week, according to the Department of Labor. (This combines the sum of the traditional state system and the new federal pandemic unemployment support program for the self-employed, giants and other workers who were previously not eligible for state benefits.)
It was the 20th week that more than 1 million Americans made new benefit claims. That's still more than double the peak during the Great Recession and comes at a point where an additional $ 600 weekly rise in unemployment controls has passed by the end of July.
In California, around 247,000 workers filed new applications for traditional state unemployment insurance in the week ending July 25, according to the California Policy Lab.
Most applicants – 57% or around 140,000 employees – were "additional entitlements" according to the laboratory. This means that they had previously received benefits, returned to work, and are now applying for benefits because they lost a job or their working hours has been shortened considerably (which may call them into question for partial services).
The areas of accommodation and food, retail, and art and entertainment – among those hardest hit by the pandemic – account for a disproportionate share of the "additional claims".
About a third of the total California workforce, or more than 6 million individuals, have applied for unemployment benefits since mid-March, according to the lab.