Unemployment Compensation

June 27, 1980

Report Outline
Recession's Impact on Programs
Evolution of Jobless Benefits
Outlook for New Approaches
Special Focus

Recession's Impact on Programs

Adequacy of Jobless Benefits Questioned

One of the chief victims of the current economic slump may be the nation's 45-year-old system of unemployment compensation. Nearly 3.5 million persons received unemployment benefits in the week ending May 31, according to the Department of Labor, up from 3.28 million the previous week. Only 2.05 million persons collected jobless pay in the corresponding week of 1979. The added burden on state unemployment insurance trust funds is giving rise to demands that the federal government assume more responsibility for aiding the jobless.

Under the existing compensation program, federal and state governments split the cost of jobless benefits for up to 39 weeks per worker covered by unemployment insurance. The federal-state structure of the system has left the individual states free to set the terms of their own programs (so long as they live up to broad federal criteria) but has linked the programs to the federal government through imposition of a federal wage tax on employers. This tax can be reduced by up to 90 percent if the employer is taxed by the state for an approved unemployment compensation program.

Though benefit levels and other features of the system vary considerably by state, most states pay eligible workers a maximum of 26 weeks of benefits under the regular program. An individual may receive an additional 13 weeks of unemployment compensation, beyond the normal 26 weeks, when the national unemployment rate for those workers covered by insurance tops 4.5 percent for at least 13 straight weeks. The cost of these extra benefits is divided evenly between state and federal unemployment trust funds.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Mar. 06, 2020  Universal Basic Income
Mar. 18, 2016  The Gig Economy
Mar. 06, 2012  Youth Unemployment
Jul. 31, 2009  Straining the Safety Net
Apr. 10, 2009  Business Bankruptcy
Mar. 13, 2009  Vanishing Jobs
Apr. 25, 2003  Unemployment Benefits
Jan. 21, 1994  Worker Retraining
Sep. 09, 1988  Help Wanted: Why Jobs Are Hard to Fill
Mar. 18, 1983  The Youth Unemployment Puzzle
Dec. 24, 1982  Federal Jobs Programs
May 28, 1982  America's Employment Outlook
Jun. 27, 1980  Unemployment Compensation
Oct. 14, 1977  Youth Unemployment
Jul. 11, 1975  Underemployment in America
Dec. 16, 1970  Unemployment in Recessions
Mar. 05, 1965  Unemployment Benefits in Times of Prosperity
Apr. 03, 1964  Overtime Pay Rates and Unemployment
Feb. 01, 1961  Unemployment and New Jobs
Jan. 07, 1959  Lag in Employment
Apr. 16, 1958  Emergency Jobless Aid
May 16, 1956  Lay-Off Pay Plans
Nov. 12, 1953  Jobless Compensation in Boom and Recession
Feb. 25, 1949  Defenses Against Unemployment
Jul. 30, 1945  Full Employment
Nov. 25, 1940  Unemployment Compensation
Jul. 10, 1939  Problem of the Migrant Unemployed
May 19, 1936  Unemployment and Recovery
Sep. 02, 1931  Public Employment Exchanges
Aug. 19, 1929  The Stabilization of Employment
Feb. 21, 1928  The Employment Situation in the United States
Jan. 23, 1926  Unemployment Insurance in the United States
Economic Crises
Unemployment and Employment Programs