Social workers are concerned with the well-being of all members of a given society. In order to be well, people need access to certain goods and services. In a society with a capitalist economy, most people gain access to necessary goods and services either by working themselves or being connected to someone else who works. This means that not being able to find a job can be a serious threat to people’s social welfare. For this reason, unemployment should be of interest to social workers. Therefore, what follows is a discussion of employment, unemployment, and their relevance to the concerns of social workers.
Michael Anthony Lewis
Different types of employment and unemployment are defined and the measurement of these concepts is illustrated. Unemployment trends among different groups in the United States are described and competing theories of the causes of unemployment are explained. Finally, policies relating to employment, including those focusing on labor supply, labor demand, and labor regulation, are discussed.
Larraine M. Edwards
Isaac Max Rubinow (1875–1936) was a consultant to the President's Committee on Economic Security and director of the Jewish Welfare Society of Philadelphia. He led the American social insurance movement and contributed to Jewish American welfare programs.
Workers' Compensation is a form of social insurance financed and administered by each of the 50 states, the federal government (for federal workers), and the District of Columbia that protects workers and their families from some of the economic consequences of workplace-related accidents and illnesses.
Lynne M. Healy
Mary Ann van Kleeck (1883–1972) was director of the Department of Industrial Studies at the Russell Sage Foundation. She studied the effect of technology on employment and her labor research led to legislation protecting women workers.
Larry Nackerud and Lauren Ricciardelli
This entry addresses unemployment insurance as the cornerstone of the Social Security Act of 1935 and, accordingly, as a cornerstone of the modern U.S. social welfare system. After providing a brief historical background of the Unemployment Insurance program, including key ties to the social work profession, this entry provides information about underlying ideological perspectives, and about program design and implementation. Key considerations are discussed with regard to the impact of the economic downturn and the global COVID-19 pandemic on unemployment insurance using a Keynesian framework. Finally, a discussion is offered pertaining to the legacy and possible reform of the Unemployment Insurance program.
George Davidson’s (1909–1995) working life included four careers over a period of over 45 years. In his first two careers he was director of welfare in the government of British Columbia, executive director of the Canadian Welfare Council, and then the government of Canada’s first deputy minister of welfare. In his later careers he was president of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and undersecretary general of the United Nations.