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Millions of Americans haven't received unemployment: Rpt

Yahoo Finance’s Alexis Christoforous and Denitsa Tsekova discuss a new reports that reveals millions of Americans haven't received unemployment.

Video Transcript

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: An unprecedented number of Americans have applied for unemployment insurance since March, but a new report finds as many as 6 million people still have not received benefits because of ineligibility or backlog. Denitsa Tsekova covers personal finance for Yahoo Finance, and she recently wrote an article on this.

Denitsa, good to have you with us. So tell us what gives. Why are millions of these people still out in the cold?

DENITSA TSEKOVA: So yeah, as you said, it's nearly half of the people who filed those claims in the last six months. These are 21 million people out of 47. So what we have here is two things.

The first thing is 15 million people have been ineligible. Some of those people maybe have moved to other programs, so we can't say that all of them have got no benefits. Some of them may have filled the application with maybe mismatching a name, not putting the right address that they have on their driver's license, and so and so forth.

But the second thing that's going on and is a really big issue is that 6 million, which is one in eight of the people who have applied, are still waiting for a decision. And as you remember in March, we had nearly 7 million claims in one week. So there was a really-- the system was really overwhelmed. But now we're six months into that pandemic, and we still have a huge backlog.

And people are waiting four to even 16 weeks to get their benefits, and that makes a really big difference. And what we're seeing is, like everything with the unemployment systems, there are states like Georgia, Washington, Oklahoma, which have had really big difficulty paying the benefits and are very slow to process the claims. And people living there may have-- wait even longer or have higher chances of getting their applications rejected.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Yeah, I mean, it's startling and really unacceptable for those millions of people who are struggling. So what-- what have some of them been able to do? Have they gone to other programs? Are there other programs out there, and what do they look like?

DENITSA TSEKOVA: Yeah, that's a great question. So under the CARES Act, which gave us a lot of relief, and one of the things was the pandemic unemployment assistance. So that was a program that was available to contractors, self-employed workers, and all those workers who don't necessarily qualify for our typical unemployment insurance system.

And they got pretty much the same unemployment benefits. They got the extra benefits and everything throughout the pandemic. But the problem here is that system is expiring in six weeks, at the end of the year, and last week there were 9 million people who were part of that program and were getting benefits. So at the end of December, millions of Americans won't get any unemployment benefits because they won't be able to qualify for the normal program.

So what we're seeing here is a really big cliff of millions of Americans who are going to lose unemployment benefits. And this happens after we had already two cliffs, so the $600 expired in July, a really big hit for unemployed Americans, and then the $300 under the president's memorandum expired in September, another really big hit. So what we're seeing is moving from very generous government support to super limited government support, and the public health crisis hasn't really increased-- and got better.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: No, it has not. All right, some sobering statistics there. Denitsa Tsekova, thank you.