As the COVID-19 pandemic has spread throughout the United States, it has led to mass shutdowns of businesses with many states being placed under shelter-in-place orders. This is leading to an unprecedented increase in unemployment, with initial unemployment claims hitting 3.3 million on the week of 3/21/20, which will likely increase in the coming weeks. To provide relief for these unemployed workers, the federal government is implementing an aid package which supplements state unemployment insurance benefits with an additional $600 per week in “Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation” through 7/31/2020.
This brief compares the unemployment benefits compensation through existing state systems and the new federal compensation to average weekly wages in each state. I find that maximum unemployment benefits would exceed 90% of average weekly wages in all states, with the ratio substantially higher in most states.