Aid meant to help those hit worst by pandemic unemployment not awarded to many Black applicantsJune 20, 2022
Their report, however, was hardly comprehensive, only evaluating data from five states, one of which—Arizona—was excluded on account of “large amounts of potential fraud.”
In North Dakota, 19.5% of Black applicants received unemployment benefits compared to 39% of white applicants tracked through April 2021. In Wisconsin, that number was 21.9% compared to 43.3%.
“Various factors could explain these disparities, such as how states reviewed claims or whether fraudsters more frequently used certain demographics when filing,” the report explained.
Ultimately, however, they determined the Department of Labor has “not yet analyzed the extent and cause of racial disparities” to determine “whether such inequities were isolated or caused by broader issues in the system.”
The Government Accountability Office recommended that the Department of Labor advise Congress and other policymakers to “support unemployed contingent workers and examine the extent and causes of inequities.”
Michele Evermore, deputy director of the Labor Department’s Office of Unemployment Insurance Modernization, told Politico the federal agency needs more data from states on how unemployment benefits are administered.
“You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” Evermore said. “If we were able to measure equity, then states would suddenly start finding themselves in the position that they have to figure this out and correct the problem.”