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One-Third of America’s Record Unemployment Payout Hasn’t Arrived

  • Benefit checks lag by $67 billion, Bloomberg calculations show
  • Shortfall shows system struggled to cope with wave of layoffs
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Almost one-third of unemployment benefits estimated to be owed to the millions of Americans who lost their jobs as a result of the coronavirus slump haven’t been paid yet, as flagship policies struggle to cope with the unprecedented wave of layoffs.

The Treasury disbursed $146 billion in unemployment benefits in the three months through May, according to data published Monday -- more than in the whole of 2009, when jobless rates peaked after the financial crisis.

But even that historic figure falls short of a total bill that should have reached about $214 billion for the period, according to Bloomberg calculations based on weekly unemployment filings and the average size of those claims.


The estimated gap of some $67 billion shows how emergency efforts to boost payments, and deliver them via creaking state-level systems, are lagging the needs of a jobs crisis that’s seen more than 40 million people file for unemployment as the economy shut down.