Unemployment Insurance and the Great Recession

Research Report

Unemployment Insurance and the Great Recession

November 28, 2011

Abstract

This paper examines the unprecedented funding problem of state unemployment insurance (UI) programs. The majority of UI programs (36 of 53) have borrowed, securing record loan amounts to maintain unemployment insurance benefit payments during 2009-2011. It identifies the causes of the funding problem, discusses borrowing options for states and describes policy responses at both the state and federal levels. State actions have included both tax increases and benefit reductions. Federal policy proposals have addressed the low UI taxable wage base in most states and have offered partial debt forgiveness in return for state actions to improve solvency. To date, policy actions have been slow at both the state and federal levels of government.

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