Participation in Unemployment Insurance: Differences in Application Rates and Receipt among Applicants by Education and Race and Ethnicity

October 2011

Alix Gould-Werth and H. Luke Shaefer, University of Michigan

Download 'working_paper11-28.pdf'.


In this paper we examine patterned variation by educational attainment and race and ethnicity in rates of application for UI and receipt of UI benefits among applicants. We use the Current Population Survey (CPS) March 2005 UI non-filers supplement to examine UI application and participation rates of unemployed workers, stratifying the sample by educational attainment and race and ethnicity. We find that unemployed workers without a high school diploma are far less likely both to apply for and to receive UI, conditional on application, than their college-educated counterparts. Differences in rates of UI application and receipt by applicants among workers with a high school degree or more are less pronounced. Interestingly, however, we find statistically significant differences across education levels in the reasons cited by non-filers for their failure to apply. Our bivariate estimates suggest both Black and Hispanic unemployed workers are less likely to apply for UI, and applicants are less likely to receive benefits, when compared to non-Hispanic White individuals. In our multivariate estimates, though, the disparities by race and ethnicity are sensitive to the inclusion of other characteristics. The only consistent association we identify is that Hispanic UI applicants are less likely to receive UI that non-Hispanic applicants.

Educational Attainment, Employment, Unemployment, and the Labor Market, Race and Ethnicity