Strengthening Support for the Unemployed

The Great Recession brought on the most severe job losses since the Depression. Even as the economy recovers, there are still substantial numbers of long-term unemployed, along with millions more on the sidelines of the labor market, without work and without benefits. Only about 27 percent of unemployed workers received benefits in 2016, near a record low.

It’s time the unemployment system evolved to meet the needs of America’s workers, who face the prospect of more and longer periods of unemployment.  NELP is leading an array of efforts to strengthen economic security for unemployed workers: advocating to expand work-sharing to help businesses avoid layoffs; for reemployment programs to reduce long-term unemployment; for greater federal investment in UI technology to improve benefit access; and to provide income support to a larger share of unemployed workers through a more robust state-federal UI system.

Reemployment Services and Eligibility Assessments (RESEA) Program Resources

The recent Congressional authorization of RESEA reflects a bipartisan commitment to build on the program’s success and to improve policy evaluation to help more unemployed workers get good jobs quickly. Reemployment services under RESEA funds must include orientation to available services, development of an individual reemployment plan, career and labor market information, registration with the state’s job bank and Employment Service, and appropriate job referrals and/or job search assistance. Here are RESEA resources:

Drug Testing Unemployment Insurance Applicants: An Unconstitutional Solution in Search of a Problem

Federal lawmakers, with no facts or data to back up their claims, are pushing misguided measures to promote drug testing of unemployment insurance applicants. A new NELP report shows how these efforts run counter to constitutional and federal legal precedent, and will likely result in discouraging unemployed workers from claiming benefits they need and to which they are rightly entitled. Read More


The Job Ahead:  Advancing Opportunity for Unemployed Workers

NELP report provides detailed recommendations to state and federal policymakers to help strengthen economic security and reemployment prospects for America’s unemployed and underemployed workers… Read More


Just Over 1 in 4 Unemployed Workers Receives Jobless Aid – A Record Low


Read the original report: The Job Ahead: Advancing Opportunity for Unemployed Workers

Federal Neglect Leaves State Unemployment Insurance System in a State of Disrepair

Record levels of application-filing during the recession exposed major weaknesses in UI technology infrastructure.  Laid-off workers who were already struggling to find work were forced to navigate extensive backlogs, jammed phone lines and often unreliable online claims systems. Read More


IT Mismatch: Confronting 21st Century Demands with 20th Century Technology

Despite an increasing reliance on phone and computer technology to process claims and collect taxes, modern UI administration suffers from inadequate funding and outdated technology, which means growing technology needs, including routine maintenance and system upgrades go unmet.



Congress should provide additional funding for staffing and information technology upgrades in the form a $600 million multi-year appropriation for UI program administration, and a one-time $300 million appropriation to upgrade state UI technology. To address access issues such as jammed phone lines, there should be more aggressive federal oversight through updated customer service standards and targeted enforcement.

“Federal underinvestment in state unemployment IT systems doesn’t save money in the long run. Not only do unemployed workers suffer when systems fail, but the government misses out on productivity gains and cost savings.”

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