No. 673 - Don't let me down: Unemployment Insurance in the United States

The paper analyses the Unemployment Insurance (UI) system in the United States, providing a comprehensive overview of its main structural features. It then compares the role played by UI programmes in mitigating the impact of the Great Recession and the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic and discusses the main reform proposals put forth to address the well-known challenges faced by the UI system.

The Unemployment Insurance system has played a decisive lifeline role in effectively mitigating the economic and social impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which prompted an expansion of UI programmes unprecedented in scale, scope, and cost. However, the crisis has once again exposed the duality between state regular programmes and federal emergency programmes, a key feature of the system that gives rise to its uneven effectiveness in supporting unemployed workers.

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