Unemployment Insurance: Information on Benefit Receipt

GAO-05-291 Published: Mar 17, 2005. Publicly Released: Mar 31, 2005.
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The Unemployment Insurance (UI) program, administered by the U.S. Department of Labor in partnership with states, plays a critical role in ensuring the financial security of America's workforce. Established in 1935, UI serves two primary objectives: (1) to temporarily replace a portion of earnings for workers who become unemployed through no fault of their own and (2) to help stabilize the economy during recessions by providing unemployed workers money for basic needs, which helps boost demand for goods and services. In fiscal year 2004, approximately 8.8 million workers received UI benefits, totaling $41.3 billion across all UI programs. To gain a better understanding of the UI program, we asked the following questions: (1) How many people ever receive UI benefits during their early working lives, and how many receive UI benefits more than once? and (2) Does UI benefit receipt change over time, and does receipt vary by industry or occupation?

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