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.



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

July 20, 2010

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.

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

…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.

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

In all probability, however, compulsory unemployment insurance cannot be had without an amendment to the Constitution, probably both state and federal, as such a measure might be attacked on the grounds that it is confiscation of property without due process of law.

Wall Street Journal editorial against unemployment insurance.
01/13/1933 | Full Details | Law(s): Unemployment Insurance

It would result in further and unnecessary intrusion of the Government into the domain of private enterprise, thus aggravating the hardships which have already been caused industry by extensive government regulations, restrictions, and competition.

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

Related Laws and Rules


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.


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.