Unmet Social Needs And Worse Mental Health After Expiration Of COVID-19 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation
- Seth A. Berkowitz ([email protected]) is an assistant professor of medicine in the Division of General Medicine and Clinical Epidemiology, School of Medicine, and the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
- Sanjay Basu is director of research at the Center for Primary Care, Harvard Medical School, in Boston, Massachusetts, and vice president of research and population health at Collective Health, in San Francisco, California.
Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) provided unemployment insurance beneficiaries an extra $600 a week during the unprecedented economic downturn during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, but it initially expired in July 2020. We applied difference-in-differences models to nationally representative data from the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey to examine changes in unmet health-related social needs and mental health among unemployment insurance beneficiaries before and after initial expiration of FPUC. The initial expiration was associated with a 10.79-percentage-point increase in risk for self-reported missed housing payments. Further, risk for food insufficiency, depressive symptoms, and anxiety symptoms also increased among households that reported receiving unemployment insurance benefits, relative to the period when FPUC was in effect. As further unemployment insurance reform is debated, policy makers should recognize the potential health impact of unemployment insurance.