Publication Date



National Tax Journal, 67(1) (March 2014): 253-268


Following the Great Recession, most states’ unemployment insurance (UI) trust funds became insolvent, requiring the states to borrow from the U.S. Treasury to finance benefit payments. This article describes the basics of UI financing and reviews the origins of the financial crisis facing the federal-state UI system. It then examines the main components of the UI payroll tax—the taxable wage base and the experience-rated payroll tax—and considers how these might be modified to avoid future widespread insolvency. We conclude with some speculative remarks on the future of UI financing.


National Tax Association

Access Rights

Permission granted to post article on February 11, 2014

Subject Areas

UNEMPLOYMENT, DISABILITY, and INCOME SUPPORT PROGRAMS; Unemployment insurance; Benefit financing




Vroman, Wayne, and Stephen A. Woodbury. 2014. "Financing Unemployment Insurance." National Tax Journal, 67(1) (March 2014): 253-268.