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Article expanded to include an examination of the Unemployment Insurance program and its dramatic expansion during the economic downturn experienced by the United States from 2008-2012.

Updated on 3 February 2014. The previous version of this content can be found here.
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date: 27 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

In response to massive unemployment, in 1934, President Franklin Roosevelt charged members of the Committee on Economic Security to create a “cradle to grave” social-security system. The resultant Social Security Act of 1935 had the Unemployment Insurance (UE) program as its cornerstone. While Congress and the general public were more interested in old-age assistance, members of the Committee on Economic Security and their staff felt the Unemployment Insurance program was the most important element of the entire legislation. The program was designed to address unemployment caused by economic conditions and to regulate industrial employment. The Unemployment Insurance program, a federal–state partnership, has a number of critical coverage criteria. The importance of the Unemployment Insurance program and the complexity of interpreting both federal and state laws cannot be overstated.

Keywords: unemployment, labor, history, coverage, benefits

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