October 7, 2021 (updated from October 4). The groundbreaking Excluded Worker Fund, which gives aid to people who are excluded from unemployment insurance benefits, has crossed the $1 billion mark, and stands at $1,148,078,400 as of October 4. That’s a huge benefit to workers – nearly all of them undocumented – in our state, and is helping people and local economies in all regions.
Equally impressive: 99 percent of those who have been approved get $15,600, the higher of two benefit levels. This is designed to be roughly equivalent to what other workers got in unemployment insurance: real support that can help sustain a family through a crisis.
A total of 118,000 people have had their claims approved, according to the informative Department of Labor dashboard that gives data about the fund in close to real time. According to Fiscal Policy Institute calculations, 122,000 people can get benefits before the $2.1 billion fund runs out. That puts the fund on track to run out very shortly.
There are a total of 470,000 undocumented immigrants in the New York State labor force, according to estimates from the Center for Migration Studies. Not all will have lost weekly income last year, or will have had income under $26,000—two requirements to qualify for the fund. The current fund of $2.1 billion can cover 26 percent of undocumented workers meeting these criteria.
The table below shows how much would be needed to cover different shares of the undocumented labor force (40, 50, 60, 70, 75, 80, 90 or 100), or, alternatively, how many people can be covered with an added $2 billion, $2.1 bill as was invested last year, or $3 billion.
These percentages assume that there are few besides undocumented immigrants who qualify for the funds.
By David Dyssegaard Kallick, Director of the Immigration Research Initiative at the Fiscal Policy Institute.