John Michael Purdon is temporarily working as a substitute teacher near his home in Barnegat, N.J., but that was not the plan. Mr. Purdon, 22, graduated in April from the University of Pittsburgh and expected to be in a nursing residency at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, “but right now, hospitals don’t have the money.”
On June 1, before he found the teaching gig, he applied for unemployment benefits. They didn’t arrive until the end of August, he said.
In his view, the economy is faltering in part because of the government’s mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic. “I’m a health care professional myself,” he said, and “certain things were overlooked in trying to rush the economy back too quickly.”
Mr. Purdon voted for President Trump in 2016 but said he had already cast a vote for Mr. Trump’s 2020 opponent, Joseph R. Biden Jr.
States around the country, overwhelmed by applications, have struggled to deliver benefits to laid-off workers.
California, which had reported the highest number of claims, stopped accepting new claims for several weeks while it revamped its system to whittle down the backlog and to institute fraud-prevention measures.
The Labor Department’s report on jobless claims, which aims to summarize information provided by the states, is the best official accounting available, but it is a flawed estimate. During California’s hiatus, for example, officials used the last reported figure as a place holder.
States also have different accounting methods, some applicants may be double counted, and there have been reports of widespread fraud — particularly in the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which Congress approved in March for freelancers, the self-employed and others ordinarily ineligible for state benefits.
This week, the Justice Department said it had brought 12 cases of fraud or money laundering related to unemployment insurance. State prosecutors have also brought cases.