October 4, 2021. New York State’s historic Excluded Worker Fund has been helping undocumented immigrants and others who were left out of unemployment compensation during the pandemic.

According to data provided by the New York State Department of Labor last week, the fund – as predicted – is having an important positive impact on all regions of the state. The most important benefit of the Excluded Worker Fund is helping workers and their families, but the infusion of money into the community helps local economies around the state. As of last week, $953 million has been dispersed, and that will be roughly doubled by the time the $2.1 billion already in the fund is exhausted.

Yet, while all regions are benefitting, not all are getting as much as they should. How quickly and effectively excluded workers can apply for the funds depends on the density of organizations that can help them apply, the level of government outreach, and the degree to which the potential beneficiaries of the fund – primarily undocumented immigrants – are comfortable coming forward to apply.

At this point, New York City is the only region in the state that has a higher share of beneficiaries than its share of undocumented workers. New York City is home to 73 percent of undocumented workers in the state, and its share of the funds distributed so far is 81 percent.  The boost to the New York City economy is $768 million.

Long Island, with 12 percent of the undocumented workers in the state and 10 percent of the fund beneficiaries, has seen $91 million in benefits to excluded workers, with a corresponding boost to the local economy.

The Lower Hudson Valley (7 percent of undocumented workers, 6 percent of beneficiaries) has seen a $51 million boost to the region, Mid-Hudson Valley (3 percent of undocumented workers, one percent of beneficiaries) a $10 million boost, the Capital District (1.4 percent of undocumented workers, 0.3 percent of beneficiaries) a $2 million boost, and Northern and Western New York (3 percent of undocumented workers, 1 percent of beneficiaries) a $7 million boost.

By David Dyssegaard Kallick, Director of the Immigration Research Initiative at the Fiscal Policy Institute