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

…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.

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

…we cannot consider this bill in a vacuum. Industry today is facing a number of bills here on the Hill, all of which are of the same sort, and we have a right to look at them as a whole; because none of them is going to be destructive of industry in itself, but, taken as a whole, they are going to impose a very serious burden on the industries of the United States, which are now trying to come out of the depression.

-
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

New York State’s past independent pioneering activities in social legislation, while commendable in many respects…have already produced discriminatory differentials between the cost of doing business in New York and such costs in neighboring States [sic]. We can see no justification for deliberately increasing those differentials at this time by continuance of such pioneering.

-
Statement by the Merchants Association of New York, “Merchants Oppose Job Insurance Bills”, New York Times.
04/17/1934 | 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.

-
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

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.