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

…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

…we are going on the theory that it will create jobs. It will not. We shall create jobs only by giving confidence to people who are in a position to hire other people.

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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

The fact is that one of the reasons why our business leaders, large and small and in almost every kind of business, are fearful of the future is because of the well-defined campaign of a very few people to foist upon this country a complete scheme of compulsory social insurance. The little group—and it is astonishingly small in numbers, though tremendously vocal—is largely of foreign origin, a substantial part of the advocates of this system coming from Germany and from countries lying further east.

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M. K. Hart, president of the New York State Economic Council, New York Times.
04/11/1933 | Full Details | Law(s): Unemployment Insurance

We have just come from another hearing, of the Wagner Labor Board. Now, if you keep piling these things upon industry, where are the reserves going to come from to protect these things? You are going to stop the very recovery necessary to produce this reserve.

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P. H. Gadsden, President Chamber of Commerce, Philadelphia, Hearings 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.