Unemployment Insurance Is Financial Life Support for Millions
Future economic growth is in serious jeopardy without it
December 9, 2011
Now is not the time to reduce Unemployment Insurance:
- Only 58.2 percent of the working-age population is employed, down from 63.3 percent just four years ago.
- 14 million workers are seeking employment.
- Basic UI provides only 26 weeks of assistance. Currently 43 percent of the unemployed have been without work for more than 27 weeks.
- The combination of slow job growth and the large number of people seeking employment has caused many workers to stop looking for work, thereby seriously jeopardizing future economic growth.
The economy faces the dual challenge of maintaining people's connection to the labor force while creating enough jobs to employ them.
Currently, only 56 percent of the officially unemployed receive any assistance and for half of them, their UI runs out before they find new jobs. The average benefit across the nation is $296 per week, below the poverty threshold and hardly enough to dissuade workers from seeking employment. Seven states provide up to an additional 67 weeks of UI and 27 states provide up to an additional 73 weeks of UI.
UI is definitely no replacement for a job, but it is a financial life-support system for millions of American workers. We clearly must do everything we can to create more jobs, but now is not the time to reduce UI.