Ong on Barriers to Securing Unemployment Benefits

Paul Ong, director of the Center for Neighborhood Knowledge at UCLA Luskin, spoke to KQED about hurdles faced by marginalized communities attempting to secure unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ong cited the steep escalation of unemployment among Asian Americans, particularly less-educated, low-wage and immigrant workers. In addition to technology challenges, these groups face a significant language gap, he said. “If you go, for example, to California’s unemployment insurance website, it’s in English and there’s also a button for Spanish, but there’s no button for other languages,” he said. “They may provide other material so deeply embedded in the website I couldn’t find it. If I couldn’t find it, other people can’t.” Ong urged the state Employment Development Department to work closely with community groups and researchers “to understand in much more detail the magnitude and the patterns of these inequalities and what’s driving it.” The article provided several resources that provide multilingual assistance in applying for unemployment benefits.


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