Unemployment Insurance

Unemployment Insurance

Unemployment insurance was a critical part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, a lifesaver during a period defined by economic volatility, depressed wages, and record unemployment.  Beginning in 1935 with the Social Security Act, short-term relief was provided for the unemployed to provide for their basic subsistence and maintain their purchasing power. Unemployment insurance generally lasts up to 26 weeks, although in the wake of the Great Recession the Obama Administation extended benefits to 99 weeks.

Cry Wolf Quotes

This bill will cause further migration from the farm areas to the industrial areas and will invite the transfer of workers from the class of those not gainfully employed in order to share in the unemployment benefits…Unemployment insurance, which in many instances places a premium on indolence, would unquestionably defeat this proposed plan of the administration to place workers in the areas of lower living costs and keep them gainfully employed.

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Walter D. Allen, President of the National Editorial Association, Testimony, House Committee on Ways and Means.
03/21/1934 | Full Details | Law(s): Unemployment Insurance

…we cannot consider this bill in a vacuum. Industry today is facing a number of bills here on the Hill, all of which are of the same sort, and we have a right to look at them as a whole; because none of them is going to be destructive of industry in itself, but, taken as a whole, they are going to impose a very serious burden on the industries of the United States, which are now trying to come out of the depression.

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John C. Gall, Associate Counsel National Association of Manufacturers, Testimony, House Committee on Ways and Means.
03/21/1934 | Full Details | Law(s): Unemployment Insurance

There is probably no greater need at the present time than for opportunity of employment. Through a long period in our country both law and public opinion reflected the universal approval and the good will felt toward those capable of giving employment to men and women who needed jobs. Yet, the imposition of this tax would be a complete reversal of that attitude. It would indicate either that employment is held undesirable and should be discouraged, or else it could properly be considered as an attempt to penalize unemployment.

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Merwin K. Hary, New York, NY, President, New York State Economic Council, Testimony, House Committee on Ways and Means.
03/21/1934 | Full Details | Law(s): Unemployment Insurance

It [this bill] would increase unemployment by aggravating the very conditions which it is attempting to correct, by crippling the agencies which furnish opportunities for employment, by discouraging efforts to relieve unemployment, and by placing a premium on idleness.

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James L. Donnelly on Behalf of the Illinois Manufacturers Association, Testimony, House Committee on Ways and Means.
03/21/1934 | Full Details | Law(s): Unemployment Insurance

Evidence

Backgrounders & Briefs

Unemployment Policy Brief: Shermer

By Elizabeth Tandy Shermer, PhD, February 2010

Unemployment insurance benefits – including  their length, eligibility, and expense – are again in the spotlight.  The arguments are hardly new.