Unemployment Insurance Reform

Unemployment Reforms Sweep Nation Due to Federal Recovery Incentives

In a time of rising costs, increased unemployment, and declining wages, American workers could easily feel like they’ve been left to fend for themselves. Fortunately, because of incentives and funding included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, as a new National Employment Law Project report details, states across the country have enacted measures to make it easier for unemployed Americans to obtain unemployment insurance (UI) benefits (see also this past Dispatch for some key state models for reform).  Progress this session includes:

State Action for the Unemployed

On Thursday, the official unemployment rate climbed to 8.1% nationwide as employers shed an additional 651,00 workers last month. Add in sharp rises in the number of involuntary part-time and long-time discouraged workers, and the unemployment rate rose to 14.8%. While long-term job growth is the goal of the recovery package, states need to, and some are already stepping up to, address the immediate needs of the unemployed. This Dispatch emphasizes key programs states can take advantage of to help their unemployed workers.

Summary of ARRA Section on Sector Partnership Grant Program for Communities Impacted by Trade

Subchapter C - Industry or Sector Partnership Grant Program for Communities Impacted by Trade (Section-by-Section Analysis)

Sec. 279A Industry or Sector Partnership Grant Program for Communities Impacted by Trade

(a)  Purpose — Establishes that the purpose of the subchapter is to facilitate efforts by industry or sector partnerships to strengthen and revitalize industries and create employment opportunities for workers in communities impacted by trade

Summary of ARRA Section on Trade Adjustment Assistance for Communities

Trade AdjustmentAssistance for Communities

Part III of SubtitleI of Division B of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (H.R.1)


Part III of Subtitle amends Chapter 4 of Title II of theTrade Act of 1974 to reestablish the Trade Adjustment Assistance forCommunities program. The new chapter is comprised of four subchapters:Subchapter A — Trade Adjustment Assistance for Communities; Subchapter B —Community College and Career Training Grant Program; Subchapter C — Industry orSector Partnership Grant Program for Communities Impacted by Trade; andSubchapter D, General Provisions.

State Unemployment Insurance Systems Being Modernized in Anticipation of Federal Recovery Program Funds

When Governor O'Malley (D-MD) announced his legislative agenda for the session, one centerpiece was an expansion of unemployment insurance to part-time workers currently excluded.  Other states, including  CaliforniaHawaii, Oregon, Colorado, Minnesota, Iowa,Utah, and Texas are passing that and other reforms to modernize antiquated systems that leave many unemployed without help.  In fact, due to state rules, only 17 percent of low-wage unemployed workers and 37 percent of higher-wage unemployed workers are receiving benefits.

Unemployment Insurance Modernization Should be Part of Recovery Plan

As the federal government considers an economic recovery plan that will most directly address the needs of those suffering and revive the economy, expanding funding for and modernizing state-based unemployment compensation systems should be a central part of any recovery plan.