Annelies Goger and Janie McDermott writes: In spring 2020, as the COVID-19 public health lockdowns unfolded, an unprecedented wave of displaced workers applied for unemployment insurance (UI). But in many cases, getting UI to these millions of workers was a fraught process. States were hard pressed to process claims accurately and quickly, because UI application processes rely heavily on a staff member making decisions about claims, even for applications filed online. Hiring new staff and contractors was a necessary first step, but it often added friction since it can take years for staff to fully onboard. There are also racial disparities in who is covered and who receives UI benefits. In one survey, Black workers represented 16% of the unemployed, but only 9% received UI; Latino or Hispanic workers represented 23% of the unemployed, but only 10% received UI. This suggests that state UI programs reproduce historical patterns of racial and ethnic inequality either by design, through program implementation, or both.