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

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

There is probably no greater need at the present time than for opportunity of employment. Through a long period in our country both law and public opinion reflected the universal approval and the good will felt toward those capable of giving employment to men and women who needed jobs. Yet, the imposition of this tax would be a complete reversal of that attitude. It would indicate either that employment is held undesirable and should be discouraged, or else it could properly be considered as an attempt to penalize unemployment.

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Merwin K. Hary, New York, NY, President, New York State Economic Council, Testimony, House Committee on Ways and Means.
03/21/1934 | Full Details | Law(s): Unemployment Insurance

The fundamental objection to the whole plan is that it is based on the false assumption, not merely that the world owes every man a living, but that employees in industry owe a living to every person who chances to be employed in that or any other industry.

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Editorial, Los Angeles Times.
04/03/1934 | Full Details | Law(s): Unemployment Insurance

…no matter who pays the unemployment insurance bill in the first instance, it comes out of money available for wages and so is all paid by the workers in the long run. But like other indirect taxes, those who bear the burden do not realize in under such a scheme as the Wagner-Lewis bill proposes. If they did, they would be careful how it was spent and would raise objections if slackers and chiselers attempted to love off it. If they thought it was being paid by employers and by the State, many would be tempted to join the slacker and chiseler class. Any bill which purports to lay the whole burden on management (although it cannot be done) is doubly vicious in tendency.

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Editorial, Los Angeles Times.
04/03/1934 | 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.