Elaine Weiss, Lead Policy Analyst for Income Security
State Unemployment Insurance (UI) programs support individual workers between jobs and serve an important role in supporting the economy as a whole during downturns. However, they have been eroding for several decades, handicapping their capacity to fulfill these important roles. Unfortunately, neither state agencies nor the federal government responded to the alarm bells being sounded by researchers and advocates until the COVID-19 pandemic put them in stark relief for all to see.
Given the programs’ many facets, it can be difficult to understand the full scale and scope of the problems that jobless workers (and states and the nation) face. This 50-state (and other UI jurisdiction) report, which was produced by Academy Member and retired U.S. Department of Labor UI Service Lead Actuary, Robert Pavosevich, helps fill that gap. The report employs multiple metrics – including recipiency rate, benefit levels, and average weeks of benefits – to illustrate both the massive disparities across states and across-the-board weaknesses of the system.
This comprehensive information can help individual workers better understand the types of problems they are likely encountering as they try to get needed help during the pandemic. Perhaps more importantly, this should serve as an urgent call to not just shore up the system temporarily, but to put in place critical supports and resources that will ensure it can fulfill its intended purpose in future times of need.
Access/download the “Unemployment Insurance Benefit Adequacy and Recipiency Report 2019” by Robert Pavosevich.
**This post was updated on 4/23/2020 with a corrected version of the Unemployment Insurance Benefit Adequacy Report.