Job Search, Job Posting and Unemployment Insurance During the COVID-19 Crisis


During the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses had to close and unemployment skyrocketed. To help the unemployed, the CARES Act increased US unemployment benefits by $600 a week, which increased unemployment benefit replacement rates (benefit/wage) to unprecedentedly high levels, above 100% for many workers. We investigate the state of the labor market during the COVID-19 crisis, using job applications and vacancy listings by occupation, state and industry from the online platform Glassdoor. We document two new facts. First, applications-per-vacancy were higher during the COVID-19 crisis than before. This is because job vacancies decreased by 64% during the crisis, while job applications only decreased by 21%. Job applications decreased before the CARES Act, and remained relatively stable until June 2020. Second, applications and applications-per-vacancy were slightly lower in occupation-states with a larger increase in the replacement rate after the CARES Act, but these differences are not entirely explained by the CARES Act. Overall, our evidence suggests that employers did not experience greater difficulty finding applicants for their vacancies after the CARES Act, despite the large increase in unemployment benefits.