Unemployment Insurance

Unemployment Insurance (UI) is a state-federal program established in 1935 to insure workers against brief spells of involuntary job loss.

In most states, eligible workers may receive up to 26 weeks of regular benefits. During periods of high unemployment, such as the Great Recession, extended benefits are available. In recent years, critics have argued that UI is outmoded because it does too little to address the problems faced by dislocated workers and tends to exclude workers who do not have a traditional full-time, full-year work history, particularly low-wage women. Prompted by the Great Recession, Upjohn researchers are examining other strategies—including work sharing and short-time compensation—to determine their effectiveness for both workers and employers.

Through independent and collaborative research, the Upjohn Institute continues to seek greater understanding of the best ways to replace income lost through unemployment and to promote speedy reemployment.

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