Unemployment Insurance

Press: Olympia hearing reinforces importance of Unemployment Insurance ‘lifeline’

Jul 30 2012

By Teresa Mosqueda and Rebecca Johnson
From The Stand

On Monday, July 23, Rep. Mike Sells (D-Everett) and Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-Seattle) held a Joint Committee work session on this decade’s epidemic: unemployment.

The Washington State Labor Council shared our video of workers’ stories about searching for work and the impact being unemployed has had on their lives and their families.

University of Washington Professor Dr. James Gregory commended the committee for “breaking the Great Silence” of unemployed workers whose voices have been largely ignored by federal lawmakers and mainstream media.  Click here and here to see and hear additional video testimony from unemployed workers in Washington discussing how important the Unemployment Insurance safety net is to our families and our economy.

The workers who came to the hearing spoke for so many who could not be there: Unemployment Insurance is a true lifeline. Unemployment benefits go right back into local communities. Families rely on this UI for groceries, rent, transportation — essentials that literally keep people alive while searching for work. And in their voices, we heard the psychological and emotional toll of struggling to keep their families together. As one worker said, “Love goes out the window when you can’t put food on your family’s table.”

Report: Unemployment Insurance And What Happens To People Who Run Out

Feb 23 2012

By Arthur Delaney
From Huffington Post

David Arrieta said he received his final $214 unemployment insurance check last week after losing his office manager job in August 2010.

"Hopefully I'll get hired," Arrieta said. "Hopefully we can rebound."

In case that doesn't happen right away, Arrieta, who lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., with his wife and three kids, said he cashed out his retirement account and is in the process of selling off personal possessions so his family can move into more affordable housing.

Millions of people have run out of unemployment insurance without finding work since the start of the Great Recession in 2007, and the government wants to know: What happens to them? Many politicians have worried the long-term jobless will wind up in another part of the safety net; others assume the unemployed are holding out for high-paying jobs and will take what they can get when their benefits run out. Available data show neither scenario offers a complete picture.

Paper: No Fault of Her Own: Redressing Family Responsibilities Discrimination in the State Unemployment Compensation Systems

Jan 31 2012

By Carolyn McConnell, UW School of Law
From CCH Labor Law Journal, Vol. 62, No. 3, Fall 2011

Abstract: From the creation of UI to the present, women have received unemployment benefits at lower rates than men. In some states, men’s rate of receipt of unemployment benefits is 20 percent higher than women’s. Why is this?

One fundamental reason is that UI places structural hurdles in the way of claimants with family caregiving responsibilities. With women disproportionately assigned the work of family caregiving, this disproportionately excludes women from unemployment benefits. Yet women now make up a near-majority of the workforce and most mothers are in the paid workforce. This is one reason why the percentage of those out of work who receive unemployment compensation has fallen dramatically in recent decades, threatening UI’s ability to achieve its twin goals of protecting workers from involuntary unemployment and cushioning the economy against downturns. In the current recession (officially over but with no end in sight for millions of the un- and underemployed), this problem is urgent.

This paper focuses on how the state unemployment systems discriminate against caregivers in their definitions of good cause and availability and offers model statutory provisions to remedy this. Reforming UI would preserve its effectiveness. Yet it would also do much more, helping to reconfigure the American workplace to accommodate caregivers. This analysis of the UI system illuminates the workplace structures that systematically disadvantage caregivers and offers concrete policy suggestions for transforming them.

Access the full article on-line here.

Opinion: Unemployment Insurance Under the Knife

Jan 25 2012

By Kate Kahan and George Wentworth
From The Nation:
The Great Recession officially began four years ago December, and although we may be in the third year of recovery, for more than 13 million Americans without jobs it doesn’t much feel like a recovery. Even as the national unemployment rate inches down below 9 percent, the massive job hemorrhaging that began in 2008 has left a legacy of widespread suffering. Of the 8.7 million jobs lost since December 2007, fewer than 2.5 million have been recovered. With population growth factored in, we are 10.9 million jobs short of what we need to get the nation back to pre-recession levels, when the unemployment rate was
5 percent.
Perhaps the most striking feature of this economic catastrophe is the nation’s continuing crisis of long-term unemployment. There are 5.7 million workers who have been unemployed more than six months—an unprecedented
43 percent of all jobless workers. Even more alarming is that a third of the unemployed have been unable to find work for a year or more. The average duration of unemployment is at a record level: 40.9 weeks.