Total unemployment benefits paid in the U.S. 2019-2020

In March 2020, 3.89 billion U.S. dollars were paid out in unemployment benefits in the United States. This is an increase from February 2020, when 2.75 billion U.S. dollars were paid in unemployment benefits.

Welfare in the U.S.

Unemployment benefits first started in 1935 during the Great Depression as a part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. The Social Security Act of 1935 ensured that Americans would not fall deeper into poverty. The United States was the only developed nation in the world at the time that did not offer any welfare benefits. This program created unemployment benefits, Medicare and Medicaid, and maternal and child welfare. The only major welfare program that the United States currently lacks is a paid maternity leave policy. Currently, the United States only offers 12 unpaid weeks of leave, under certain circumstances. However, the number of people without health insurance in the United States has greatly decreased since 2010.

Unemployment benefits

Current unemployment benefits in the United States vary from state to state, because unemployment is funded by both the state and the federal government. The average duration of people collecting unemployment benefits in the United States has fluctuated since January 2019, from as little as 10.87 weeks to as many as 19.3 weeks. The unemployment rate varies by ethnicity, gender, and education levels. For example, those aged 16 to 24 have faced the highest unemployment rates since 1990. As of December 2019, the Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, New York metropolitan area had the highest unemployment rate in the United States.

Total monthly unemployment insurance benefits paid in the United States between March 2019 and March 2020

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Release date

April 2020


United States

Survey time period

March 2019 to March 2020

Supplementary notes

The figures have been rounded to provide a better understanding of the statistic.

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Statistics on "U.S. unemployment"

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