Publication Date



Upjohn Institute working paper ; 14-207

**Published Version**

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




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.

Issue Date

February 2014

Subject Areas

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


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Vroman, Wayne and Stephen A. Woodbury. 2014. "Financing Unemployment Insurance." Upjohn Institute Working Paper 14-207. Kalamazoo, MI: W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.