As initial unemployment insurance (UI) claims exploded across the country early in the COVID-19 crisis, one fact stood out: Pennsylvania’s initial UI claims were exceptionally high. For the week ending March 21, Pennsylvania led all states with 378,908 initial UI claims. For the week ending March 28, Pennsylvania reported 405,880 initial claims, second only to California’s 878,727 claims.1 Between mid-March and early May, over 25 percent of Pennsylvanian workers filed initial claims.
Why Were Pennsylvania’s Initial UI Claims So High?
When COVID-19 hit, Pennsylvania seemed to have a lot of unemployment insurance claims, but the story was more complicated than it appeared.