Rethinking Unemployment Insurance

Awarded Scholars:
Thomas Bethell, National Academy of Social Insurance
Project Date:
Mar 2015
Award Amount:
Project Programs:
Future of Work

The unemployment insurance (UI) system took a hard hit during the Great Recession and has not yet recovered. UI remains a complex set of state-run programs that suffer from limited and inconsistent coverage, inconsistent wage replacement rates, uncertain duration of benefits, regressive taxation, and insolvency. Research needs to be brought up to date by assessing the performance of the UI system both during and after the Great Recession, identifying key lessons learned in recent years, and exploring potential reform opportunities and strategies.

National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) Senior Fellow Thomas Bethell, in collaboration with tax law expert Michael Graetz at Columbia University, will organize a workshop in Washington, DC to rethink the UI system. The meeting will focus on strategies to move toward a modernized system that serves employers and employees alike by promoting job retention and reemployment, as well as temporary wage replacement, on a consistent basis nationwide. The workshop will jumpstart the reform process by convening 15-20 experts from academia, business, labor, government, and advocacy groups. Participants will discuss key topics such as work-sharing, reemployment services and support, benefit coverage and adequacy, and system financing and federalization.


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