A Longitudinal Survey of Unemployment Insurance Recipients in Two Regions in California

Publisher: Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research
Jan 30, 2017
Joanne Lee, Karen Needels, and Walter Nicholson

Key Findings:

  • Recipients who were not employed at both survey waves were most likely to look for work by contacting friends, relatives, or professional associates. By the second wave, 43 percent of Los Angeles recipients and 33 percent of Central Valley recipients received information from an American Job Center (AJC) on education or job training programs.
  • By the second survey, about a third of reemployed Los Angeles recipients and about 60 percent of reemployed Central Valley recipients returned to the same employer they had for their pre-UI job.
  • Shortly after recipients lost their jobs, their households used a variety of financial management strategies, most commonly withdrawing money from savings, but this became less common over time as more recipients found reemployment. Recipients did not become more likely over time to report having been 60 or more days late in paying their bills or having food insecurity. However, over time, spouses and unmarried partners of UI recipients increased their average hours worked, and household rates of receipt of any of five types of public assistance benefits increased. 
  • Ninety-seven percent of recipients at each survey wave reported that UI payments were very important or somewhat important in helping them to meet their financial obligations and avoid financial losses. 
This is a study of short- and medium-term adjustments that recipients of unemployment insurance (UI) make after a job loss in two regions in California. The study uses data from a two-wave longitudinal survey and UI administrative records to focus on such issues as how recipients’ job search strategies change over time, the role of UI benefits and other strategies unemployed workers use to cope with financial hardships, and UI recipients’ satisfaction with the program.