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 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

The proposed pay-roll tax is not only a sales tax, but, in addition, is a production tax, a processing tax, and a distribution tax. It has all the vices and none of the virtues of a sales tax. It is selective as to the classes of business against which it is to be assessed, and hence, is discriminatory. It is cumulative; it applies over and over again on every operation from the production of raw materials to and including the final sale of a product to the ultimate consumer…The pay-roll tax is a hidden tax and each successive purchaser of a commodity pays the tax if it can be passed on under the circumstances of the particular transaction.

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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

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

Such a law would inevitably operate to hold down the number of employees on the pay roll as well as to prevent and minimize increases in the rate of pay, so that the burden of the tax could be reduced to the minimum. These bills, in our opinion, are contrary to the spirit of the Constitution of the United States and inconsistent with the many decisions of the Supreme Court on analogous questions of taxation…

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Los Angeles Times, editorial.
04/02/1934 | 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.