Unemployment Insurance

In an increasingly volatile economy, working families need a strong unemployment insurance program - one that is there in hard times to help them pay the bills and find new jobs that meet their needs and aspirations. However, the unemployment insurance safety net has failed to keep pace with the changing labor force, especially the growth in women, part-time and low-wage workers.

In response, policymakers in over half the states have adopted significant reforms in recent years to modernize their unemployment insurance (UI) programs. NELP has been a national leader in providing assistance to these efforts, by evaluating state laws, designing model policies, and generating the empirical research needed to best document the case for reforming the UI system. At the same time, NELP is active in promoting a strong federal role in unemployment insurance, especially during recessions when federal benefits are needed to stimulate the economy and relieve hardship.

  • Resources from NELP's 2011 National Conference, Keeping the Promise Today and Tomorrow

    NELP convened a national conference on unemployment insurance policies and practices on December 5-6, in Washington DC.  The full conference agenda and powerpoints from many of our plenaries and workshops can be found here.

  • Unemployment Insurance Modernization (Revised, December 2010)

    The recovery act provides federal resources to states to modernize their unemployment safety nets to meet the unprecedented demands on the recession and the needs of a changing workforce. Visit this page for helpful resources for your state.

  • Federal Policy Initiatives

    Although the states set most of the basic UI rules, key decisions are made at the federal level as well, such as funding disaster unemployment assistance and extended benefits for the long-term unemployed. NELP monitors federal policy developments and brings together state and national partners in coordinated federal advocacy.

  • Filling the Gaps in the Unemployment Safety Net

    We promote state policy reforms to fill the gaps in the safety net that limit coverage for low-wage, part-time and women workers, and for other growing parts of the workforce such as immigrants, older workers and temporary workers. New state policies can also address long-term joblessness and help workers access training.

  • State Reports and Statistics

    NELP produces comprehensive reports evaluating state UI programs, including measures of the latest UI trends at the state level.

  • Unemployment Insurance Financing

    Unemployment Insurance is a self-financing system, with dedicated taxes covering the costs of benefits in each state. We help state advocates and policy makers evaluate their UI funding system, including UI payroll taxes and the stability of a state's UI trust fund.

See also our research on unemployment, and our Economic and Workforce Development work that can help the unemployed find good jobs. NELP also runs www.unemployedworkers.org, a website giving voice to unemployed workers advocating for federal extended benefits.

For more information on our work in this area, please contact Maurice Emsellem, emsellem@nelp.org.