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 [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

…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

…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

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.