Strengthening Support for Unemployed People

In the past decade, both the COVID-19 pandemic and Great Recession brought on the most severe job losses in the U.S. since the Great Depression.

If the last decade has taught us anything, it’s that state and federal governments need to transform our unemployment insurance (UI) systems, not undermine them further. This is an urgent matter of racial and economic justice.

This is the moment for our movement to be heard.

In partnership with unemployed people and their  advocates, NELP is leading an array of efforts to strengthen economic security for unemployed workers,  advocating for: Robust federal standards to ensure equity across state UI programs;  expanding work-sharing to help businesses avoid layoffs; reemployment programs to reduce long-term unemployment; greater federal investment in technology to improve benefit access; and providing income support to all workers regardless of how they are paid or what industry they work in through a more robust state-federal system.

Slashing Unemployment Benefit Weeks on Jobless Rates Hurts Workers of Color

Whether people survive times of crisis should not be contingent on where they live or their racial or ethnic identity.

This policy brief outlines a harmful and broken patchwork of policies and programs which indicate a dire need for an unemployment system with national uniformed standards, systems, and guardrails.

This is key to building worker power, and this must be done while centering the experiences and needs of Black and Indigenous workers and other workers of color.

This policy brief can serve as a helpful resource for state advocates who may encounter similar attempts by misguided legislators to cut UI payments.

Read More

Reforming Unemployment Insurance is a Racial Justice Imperative

This policy brief points to the racist history of US social programs and a key decision that impacts inequities in today’s unemployment system.

Read More

Black Workers Share Their Expertise

In the fourth quarter of 2020, the unemployment rate for Black workers was above 10% in 12 of the 21 states (including the District of Columbia) that provided unemployment data on Black workers.

Due to systemic racism, there are no states where the unemployment rate for Black and white workers are the same or where the unemployment rate was lower for Black workers. Centering the voices of people most impacted by unemployment is essential.

That’s why we helped launch, a collection of Black workers’ expertise on issues of unemployment, underemployment, and unemployment compensation in Washington, D.C. before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more

State and Local Resources

See our webpage,, for additional resources, including a list of unemployment insurance-related websites by state, legal aid services by state, and mutual aid networks.

FAQs are for workers about the various benefits they may be entitled to during this pandemic, and whether they should apply.


News Releases

Unemployment Benefits Kept 2.3 Million People Out of Poverty in 2021

A new analysis of just-released Supplemental Poverty Measure data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that unemployment insurance (UI) benefits,(…)

Posted Sep 13, 2022 Read More

News Releases

December Jobs Report: A Year of Job Growth Was a Missed Opportunity to Fix Unemployment Insurance

The U.S. Department of Labor’s final monthly jobs report of 2022 revealed that 4.5 million jobs were added and the(…)

Posted Jan 6, 2023 Read More
Back to Top of Page