The true unemployment rate is probably around 13%

There are important differences between who receives unemployment benefits and whom the official statistics measure as unemployed. (The former is based on eligibility for unemployment insurance, while the latter is based on who responds to government surveys that they are actively looking for work.) But it is likely that nearly all of these people will show up in the official statistics. After all, you qualify for unemployment benefits only if you’re actively looking for work.

In addition, independent contractors, including many gig economy workers, most likely lost their jobs but did not qualify for benefits. (The recent fiscal package passed by Congress will change this in coming weeks.) It is hard to be precise about how many people fall into this category, but a round, conservative guess might raise my estimate of the number of job losers to 10 million from 8.5 million.

State unemployment offices have also been overwhelmed, and it’s likely that some people have tried to claim benefits but are not yet counted officially because of processing delays. This might add a further million to our estimate, bringing it to 11 million.