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

It would undermine the fabric of our economic and social life by destroying initiative, discouraging thrift, and stifling individual responsibility.

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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

New York State’s past independent pioneering activities in social legislation, while commendable in many respects…have already produced discriminatory differentials between the cost of doing business in New York and such costs in neighboring States [sic]. We can see no justification for deliberately increasing those differentials at this time by continuance of such pioneering.

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Statement by the Merchants Association of New York, “Merchants Oppose Job Insurance Bills”, New York Times.
04/17/1934 | Full Details | Law(s): Unemployment Insurance

…to impose this burden at this time, when industry is just struggling to get on its feet, is going to still further retard the very recovery which is necessary to create these reserves. That is the basis of our opposition to these provisions.

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P. H. Gadsden, President Chamber of Commerce, Philadelphia, Testimony, House Committee on Ways and Means.
03/21/1934 | Full Details | Law(s): Unemployment Insurance

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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George C. Lucas of the Publishers Association in Associated Press, Washington Post.
03/31/1934 | 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.