the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

Search form

New Report: The Economic Benefits of Extending Unemployment Insurance

Summary: 
A new report argues that allowing Emergency Unemployment Compensation to expire would be harmful to millions of workers and their families, counterproductive to the economic recovery, and unprecedented in the context of previous extensions to earlier unemployment insurance programs.

The United States economy continues to recover from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and while substantial progress has been made, more work remains to boost economic growth and speed job creation. Despite ten consecutive quarters of GDP growth and 7.8 million private sector jobs added since early 2010, the unemployment rate is unacceptably high at 7.3 percent, and far too many families are still struggling to regain the foothold they had prior to the crisis.

The Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program authorized by Congress in 2008 has provided crucial support to the economy and to millions of Americans who lost jobs through no fault of their own. Under current law, EUC will end on December 28, 2013[1].

This report argues that allowing EUC to expire would be harmful to millions of workers and their families, counterproductive to the economic recovery, and unprecedented in the context of previous extensions to earlier unemployment insurance programs.

Download the full report here or read a summary below, including state-by-state effects of allowing EUC benefits to expire.

Since their inception in 2008, extended unemployment insurance (UI) benefits have provided critical support to millions of workers and their families:

  • Nearly 24 million workers have received extended UI benefits
  • Recipients are a diverse group: roughly half have completed at least some college, including 4.8 million with bachelor’s degrees or higher
  • Including workers’ families, nearly 69 million people have been supported by extended UI benefits, including almost 17 million children
  • In 2012 alone, UI benefits lifted an estimated 2.5 million people out of poverty

Millions of workers stand to lose access to UI benefits if no action is taken:

  • Approximately 1.3 million workers currently receiving extended UI benefits are set to lose them at the end of the year 
  • 3.6 million additional people will lose access to UI benefits beyond 26 weeks by the end of 2014 

Allowing UI to expire would be damaging to the macro-economy and the labor force:

  • Failing to extend UI benefits would put a dent in job-seekers’ incomes, reducing demand and costing 240,000 jobs in 2014.
  • Estimates from the Congressional Budget Office and JP Morgan suggest that without an extension of EUC GDP will be .2 to .4 percentage points lower.
  • In 2011, CBO found that aid to the unemployed is among the policies with “the largest effects on output and employment per dollar of budgetary cost”
  • In over a dozen studies, economists have found that any disincentive to find new work that could result from extended UI benefits is, at most, small
  • Expiration of extended UI benefits may also lead some long-term unemployed to stop looking for work and leave the labor force, reducing the number who could eventually find jobs as the economy heals

Allowing EUC to expire would be unprecedented in the context of previous extensions to earlier unemployment insurance programs:

  • The unemployment rate (7.3% in October) is currently higher than it was at the expiration of any previous extended UI benefits program
  • The long-term unemployment rate (2.6% in October) is at least twice as high as it was at the expiration of every previous extended UI benefits program
  • In this cycle, EUC was first signed into law in June 2008 by President Bush when the unemployment rate was 5.6 percent and the average duration of unemployment was 17.1 weeks. Today, as of October 2013, the unemployment rate is 7.3 percent and the average duration of unemployment is 36.1 weeks.
  • Consistent with previous programs, the EUC program has been gradually phasing down – the median number of weeks one can receive benefits across states is down from a peak of 53 weeks in 2010 to 28 weeks currently and phasing down to 14 weeks under the proposed extension

The effects of allowing EUC benefits to expire would be felt nationwide:

Job-seekers who will lose access to EUC benefits can be found in nearly every state.

State

Unemployed losing access to benefits

State

Unemployed losing access to benefits

Alabama

48,100

Nebraska

16,700

Alaska

23,300

Nevada

60,300

Arizona

67,000

New Hampshire

8,500

Arkansas

40,300

New Jersey

260,100

California

836,100

New Mexico

25,500

Colorado

72,800

New York

383,000

Connecticut

85,100

North Carolina

0

Delaware

13,800

North Dakota

7,900

District of Columbia

18,200

Ohio

128,600

Florida

260,400

Oklahoma

33,000

Georgia

164,700

Oregon

76,100

Hawaii

13,300

Pennsylvania

262,500

Idaho

20,300

Puerto Rico

80,200

Illinois

230,500

Rhode Island

21,700

Indiana

69,300

South Carolina

52,400

Iowa

35,500

South Dakota

1,600

Kansas

35,300

Tennessee

79,000

Kentucky

53,200

Texas

285,200

Louisiana

30,400

Utah

20,200

Maine

18,100

Vermont

5,100

Maryland

82,600

Virgin Islands

3,500

Massachusetts

141,000

Virginia

69,900

Michigan

189,700

Washington

94,100

Minnesota

65,500

West Virginia

24,700

Mississippi

37,600

Wisconsin

99,000

Missouri

84,500

Wyoming

6,700

Montana

14,300

   

Source: Department of Labor

 

Failure to extend EUC benefits would cost jobs in every state in 2014.

State

Estimated Number of Jobs Saved by EUC Extension Through End of 2014

State

Estimated Number of Jobs Saved by EUC Extension Through End of 2014

Alabama

1,083

Nebraska

456

Alaska

1,212

Nevada

2,953

Arizona

1,938

New Hampshire

225

Arkansas

2,088

New Jersey

19,660

California

46,441

New Mexico

989

Colorado

3,571

New York

19,826

Connecticut

5,788

North Carolina

7,629

Delaware

505

North Dakota

146

District of Columbia

993

Ohio

6,535

Florida

10,109

Oklahoma

659

Georgia

5,876

Oregon

3,829

Hawaii

585

Pennsylvania

15,200

Idaho

522

Puerto Rico

1,691

Illinois

13,345

Rhode Island

1,284

Indiana

3,406

South Carolina

1,892

Iowa

824

South Dakota

31

Kansas

846

Tennessee

2,276

Kentucky

3,151

Texas

11,766

Louisiana

726

Utah

542

Maine

675

Vermont

118

Maryland

3,462

Virgin Islands

238

Massachusetts

7,067

Virginia

1,477

Michigan

8,450

Washington

6,183

Minnesota

1,078

West Virginia

1,173

Mississippi

1,412

Wisconsin

5,185

Missouri

2,456

Wyoming

134

Montana

295

US Total

240,000

Source: Department of Labor

 

Jason Furman is Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. Betsey Stevenson is a Member of the Council of Economic Advisers


[1] In all states except New York, the last payable week of EUC benefits will be the week ending December 28. In New York, it will be the week ending December 29.