The Indicator from Planet Money - Unemployment Insurance And Vaccines: Who's Left Behind?

Two of the most important ways the government is supporting Americans right now is through distributing vaccines and providing unemployment insurance. But are there cracks in the system?

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everyone Stacy in Cardiff here. This is the indicator from planet money. Today is Friday, which me at time four indicators of the week was going to be like Stacy and I know each other so well, we practically finish each other's french fries and that is when can I eat choose an indicator that particularly struck Us in the news this week and we saw each other with it could be Illuminating counterintuitive insightful or just plain fun and unexpected Stacy night Ambush each other with these indicators right after a quick drink.

This message comes from NPR sponsor the Capital One Venture Card with Venture. You are an unlimited double miles per dollar on every purchase every day. What's in your wallet your sponsor fundrise making investing in private real estate as easy as investing in stocks bonds or mutual funds build a more Diversified portfolio today at fundrise fundrise cam indicator. There is a problem because we don't know who's doing what indicator so we don't know who should go first rock paper scissors rock paper scissors 123 paper covers rock, you get to go first. I always pick paper because no one ever does is everyone does Rock now? I've completely giving away my rock paper scissors strategy of the week it it sounds very fancy or counterintuitive or anything like that, but it is an indicator that I think a lot of people have been watching. It's really important.

I think maybe the key to the economy recovering. I'm all ears. It is vaccinations according to the CDC almost 14% of people in the US have gotten at least one vaccination shot. It's a start a lot of debate around what will constitute herd immunity but doctor fat she thinks it's about eighty 85% of the population needs antibodies. And so we're pretty far are we from that right now. There is a lot harder than 14% That's for sure his progress rightly people are getting vaccinated every day at my parents. Just got their vaccines by the way. I'm very very happy. So high relief, I felt so much like personal relief and I almost cried when I heard and the fact that they've been vaccinated no means I can go visit them and of course card, if you know, like getting vaccines enables people are at least maybe makes them feel more comfortable going to restaurants going to the theater visiting each other all that good stuff that helps the economy grow. All told vaccines are going

Everyday to about one and a half million people which is really good news and things are moving which is great at there are some indicators that are blast encouraging which is that the vaccines are not being distributed equally there has been a lot of news about how bad the numbers are in terms of minorities getting back soon aided. This is happening pretty much everywhere across the country states like California, Florida and New Jersey are vaccinating black residents at a far lower than the rate at which their vaccinating white residence. For example in New Jersey only 4% of vaccines have gone to Black residents but black residents make up 15% of the state's population. But you know what New Jersey is like absolutely not alone over all across the country. There's a lot of inequalities how the vaccines are getting distributed. That's obviously a big issue. Yeah, and it's fascinating to because we've discussed on the show so many times the pandemic really has kind of exposed a lot of pre-existing Fishers in the economy big racial and ethnic.

Gaps in terms of employment in terms of wages and also just a difference in how high wage earners versus low-wage earners have suffered throughout the pandemic way more job losses for low-wage earners than for people who make more money and I think it is sort of brought to light some things that were there before but that now or beings would have newly understood newly emphasized and more widely debated and thought about you know how to address so I wish it was better news, but in general of vaccines are getting out there that is a good thing. So that is my indicator of the week. All right. I'm definitely I also relieved for Papa and Mama Vanek Smith The Smiths Panic, but yes me too. Me too. I'm just very thrilled awesome. OK Google card. If I don't hold out what your indicator the week. My indicator of the week is 70% That is an estimate for the share of all the people who

Unemployed who are not receiving unemployment insurance benefits or I won't be receiving them shortly, which is just a huge number that I think a lot of people aren't aware of and status of it comes from an economist named Eliza Forsyth of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. And basically what you did was she looked at this panel of people who'd been surveyed ever since the start of the pandemic and she looked at what they said to the survey between the end of December in the start of January and she found that 70% of unemployed people are not be reached by the unemployment insurance system. So what's going on, why are people getting their unemployment checks the overwhelming majority of the people who are not receiving these benefits even though they are unemployed is because they have not applied. So more than nine out of 10 people said that the reason you're not getting those checks is because they have not applied and of those most of them say that the

They have not applied it because they believe that they are not eligible. And the rest of said that they just couldn't figure it out. They didn't know how to apply its process. Yeah, and in many cases like they might be right maybe they're not eligible. I in a lot of cases. They're probably getting it wrong. They might be eligible and they're simply not applying whatever the case this is a massive massive Gap in the share of people who could use the help and you are not getting it and I think it kind of emphasizes a couple of different things one is a kind of long-standing problem with the way that unemployment insurance benefits are administered. Right? So if this goes back before the pandemic in a lot of states are underfunded when it comes to unemployment benefits, a lot of them have very archaic systems like the software they use for is going to creaky like from the 80s that software and also in a lot of cash that you don't have enough people working there to handle a big influx of applications for unemployment when there is actually a recession

The more mediately relevant issue here though is about how to design proper Aid and stimulus packages that are sent out by the government. Okay, some people think that it's a good idea to mainly Target those benefits to people who are unemployed because they are the people who most need the help write other people say, well that's great in theory. But in practice we should be sending out near Universal checks to everybody precisely because the way that unemployment is administered has a lot of cracks in so people who could still use the help may not get it if we try to Target so better to sort of send checks out to everybody even if there's a lot of people who keep their jobs and keep their income and still get the checks to make sure that the people who really need the help or at least getting something so that is my indicator of the week. Yeah. I know that we've talked to people who had trouble like even like accessing the portals. I know the unemployment offices are still be able to overwhelm to make sense, but just that number 70%

Got most of the people who need the help or not getting it by a lot. That's like a crisis. I think a lot of people are just not aware of how big of a hole there is and how many people who are unemployed and are not getting unemployment benefits. And remember if you're unemployed then by definition it means that you are looking for a job and just haven't found one. So it's not like these are people who are out there. And for whatever reason are not seeking worth. These are people who want work presumably want the income and maybe need the income and are not getting the help and I think that's important to emphasize too. So I was staggered by this. I think it's a huge number and assertive deeply informative number about what the benefit system looks like in in the US and so those are our two

Indicators of the week and we want invite you to our listeners to also send this ideas that we can use for indicators of the week that indicator had NPR. Org so that Stacy and I can potentially steal them or if you know use with credit whenever rock-paper-scissors.

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Where is right now? I feel like I have the advantage now. I'm already.

I'm almost at a profession.

This episode of the indicator was produced desperately by Britney crowded. In fact check by Sam side was edited by Jolie Myers and indicator is the production of NPR.
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