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This book proposes options and recommendations for comprehensive reform of the unemployment insurance program that was initiated as a social insurance program by the Social Security Act of 1935. It documents the development of the program and its decline since the 1970s. Reform proposals and recommendations are synthesized from reforms suggested by policy analysts and researchers over many decades.


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Part 1: Introduction and Overview of the UI Program

1. The Basics of the UI Program

Part 2: UI Program Issues and Weaknesses

2. A Historical Timeline

3. Downward Trends and Wide Variation among States, 1980–2019

4. Weaknesses in the UI System: How We Got Here and What It Means

Part 3: Issues and Options for UI Reform

5. A Brief History of UI Reform: Past Proposals and Actual Reform

6. Disincentive and Incentive Effects of UI Benefits and Taxation

7. Approaches to UI Reform

Part 4: Recommendations for UI Reform

8. Regular UI Benefits: Improving Access, Eligibility, and Benefits

9. UI Benefit Coverage, Taxation, and Extended Benefits

10. Improving Financing: Options and Recommendations

11. Special Programs: Options and Recommendations

12. Modernizing Information Technology

13. Fraud and Overpayments

Part 5: Summary and Conclusions

14. Recommendations and Next Steps


Upjohn project #69420


Russell Sage Foundation, the National Academy of Social Insurance, and Wandner Associates Inc.


9780880996907 (pbk.) ; 9780880996914 (ebook)

Subject Areas

LABOR MARKET ISSUES; UNEMPLOYMENT, DISABILITY, and INCOME SUPPORT PROGRAMS; Unemployment insurance; Benefits and duration; Benefit financing; Short time compensation; Worker profiling

Transforming Unemployment Insurance for the Twenty-First Century: A Comprehensive Guide to Reform




Wandner, Stephen A. 2023. Transforming Unemployment Insurance for the Twenty-First Century: A Comprehensive Guide to Reform. Kalamazoo, MI: W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.

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