The Excluded Workers Fund was set up in 2021 to provide financial relief to New York State residents who had lost work during the COVID-19 crisis but who had not received unemployment insurance—primarily immigrants who are undocumented—with assistance on par with what other workers received in unemployment benefits for the year. To better understand the successes and shortcomings of the program, the Urban Institute and Immigration Research Initiative conducted a survey of individuals in the population targeted for aid. The survey was collected from June 21 to July 27, 2022 in Arabic, Bangla, Chinese, English, French, Korean, and Spanish, reaching 408 respondents.
Among our key findings, we see the funds helped workers with the following:
- cover basic needs of food and rent costs
- improve their living situation
- invest in their business
- obtain job training or interview for a new job
- support economic mobility and community engagement
Although material hardships are common among undocumented immigrants, we also find that those who received the fund experienced lower levels of hardship.
The EWF was not the only program that sought to fill large gaps in this country’s safety net, but it was the largest. Our study shows that Excluded Workers Fund recipients benefited from the fund and the fund stimulated economic growth when it was urgently needed. The fund’s success demonstrates that safety net programs can cover individuals and families who are difficult to reach through community partnership, government commitment, and assurance that individuals’ data privacy will be protected.