UCLA economics professor Till von Wachter was recently awarded almost $250,000 to research employment resiliency and the impacts of unemployment insurance for workers and businesses in California during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The project builds on work being done at the California Policy Lab, where von Wachter is the faculty director and leads a team of researchers focused on unemployment research. There were three main unemployment insurance programs during the pandemic, including the Short-Time Compensation program, which provides prorated unemployment insurance benefits to workers with reduced employment and has distinct advantages for both workers and companies.

This research will help policymakers see how different groups were served by the unemployment system and can also inform efforts to expand short-time compensation in California. It will assess the impact unemployment insurance benefits had on worker earnings and employment outcomes — especially for vulnerable, low-wage Californians — and compare outcomes for people receiving full or partial unemployment insurance benefits and short-time compensation benefits.

The funding was provided by the California Collaborative for Pandemic Recovery and Readiness Research, which works in partnership with the University of San Francisco, the California Health and Human Services Agency and the California Department of Public Health to study the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on individuals and communities throughout the state. The initiative has allotted over $6 million in funding for 30 research projects across UC campuses that target pandemic evidence gaps.