In the midst of a pandemic, there has been a growing call for undocumented immigrants, who make up five percent of the New York State labor force, to be covered by some form of unemployment insurance. What is often overlooked in discussions of unemployment insurance is the extent to which undocumented immigrants are already part of paying into the existing system, even when they are excluded from collecting benefits.
Undocumented immigrants face the same challenges as other workers. It does not serve the public interest to make it financially impossible for undocumented immigrants to stay home when needed to protect individual or public health and well-being. Payments for unemployment insurance have been going into the system on behalf of many of these workers. Now, in this time of crisis, is the time for an unemployment insurance system that serves all of New York’s workers.
The analysis was conducted for the Fiscal Policy Institute by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP). Data for all 50 states and Washington, D.C., are shown in Figure 2, on page 5.