Unemployment Insurance

Unemployment Insurance

Unemployment insurance (UI) is an essential part of the American social safety net. UI gives laid-off workers time to find or retrain for a new job while ensuring their purchasing power (this is especially important during economic downturns).  The federal government first established nation wide coverage with the Social Security Act of 1935. Under this system states play a crucial role, jointly financing and administering the program with the federal government. Generally, benefits last a total of 26 weeks. During recessions extensions are typically issued, although conservatives often attempt to block the legislation.

Commentary

Unemployment

Screwing the Jobless: Are Republicans Heartless or Just Playing Hardball Politics?

July 20, 2010

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

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

…this is no time to put additional burdens on employers and employees and State administrations. Recent legislation has created plenty of burdens without adding the one. It is an extremely dangerous time to discuss raising labor costs in the sense of labor costs per unit.

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Prof. R.S. Meriam, Harvard Business School, Testimony, House Committee on Ways and Means.
03/21/1934 | Full Details | Law(s): Unemployment Insurance

[The bill] tends to retard the increase of pay rolls, because of the absorption of this amount of money for taxation purposes; it retards the increase of employment also. It is a permanent tax, with no limit, regardless of economic conditions in general or of the individual company. In other words, it may be the last straw, as I said before, that puts this company over the line into bankruptcy.

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Frank H. Willard, Worcester, MA, President, Graton & Knight Manufacturing Co., Testimony, House Committee on Ways and Means.
03/21/1934 | Full Details | Law(s): Unemployment Insurance

Related Laws and Rules

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.

Resources

Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) is a progressive think tank that concentrates on social and economic policy, both domestic and international.

The National Employment Law Project is an organization that promotes economically just public policy in the face of the prevailing trends of the law several decades.