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A Growing Number Of Laid-Off Californians Are Getting Back To Work

Many businesses are now allowed to open in Southern California, which means more and more people are getting back to work. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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After an unprecedented wave of layoffs, a small but growing number of Californians are now heading back to work.

In a new analysis published Thursday, researchers with the California Policy Lab at UCLA find that many Californians who were laid off at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic are now working again.

“We see that in May, even before the re-opening, individuals started working more,” said co-author and UCLA economics professor Till von Wachter.

The researchers looked at the percentage of unemployment recipients who have been getting only partial benefits in a given week — or no benefits at all. That number has been growing recently.

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By mid-May, about 22% of Californians with unemployment claims were getting partial or denied benefits. That might sound bad, but it’s happening for a good reason. Those people were working again, and often earning too much to qualify for unemployment benefits.

“Many people were really surprised by last Friday's national jobs report, seeing the unemployment rate drop,” said von Wachter. “Our study confirms that there seems to be some employment availability.”

For the millions of Californians who’ve lost work as a result of pandemic-related business closures, this trend may reveal some light at the end of the tunnel.

But for now, many are still out of a job — especially younger workers and those with less education. The researchers found that more than half of workers in the state with just a high school degree have now filed for unemployment.


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