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

The imposition on industry at this time of the tax burden contemplated by this measure would render business recovery absolutely hopeless. Manufacturing industry is now engaged in a desperate struggle in an effort to continue operations and provide jobs. Most industries have been operating at a loss for several years. Industry is not prepared at this time to accept the added burden as contemplated by this bill.

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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

It will hasten mechanization of all processes and thus permanently reduce employment. It will force employers to keep wage rates at the lowest possible minimum and thus reduce the amount of the tax.

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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

…it still is true that the young people of today in this country look to the people who have succeeded in spite of every handicap such as that, as their inspiration for doing things. I think we do not want to kill off that spirit of individualism. I use the term ‘individualism’; I know it is sneered at a lot, but I know if is still a respectable term and I think we ought to cultivate it instead of sneering at it.

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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

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

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.