Unemployment Insurance (UI) has been a key component in ensuring the financial security of America's workforce for over 70 years. In fiscal year 2004, UI covered about 129 million wage and salary workers and paid about $41 billion in benefits to nearly 9 million workers. With unemployed workers at a greater risk of long-term unemployment than in the past, it is increasingly important to understand how individual workers are being served by UI. This testimony draws upon the results of three GAO reports providing new information about (1) the extent to which individual workers ever receive UI benefits or receive benefits multiple times, (2) the types of workers who are more likely to receive UI, and (3) what is known about the extent to which UI beneficiaries receive reemployment services and their reemployment outcomes. GAO is not making new recommendations at this time. The Department of Labor (Labor) generally agreed with the findings from each of the three reports on UI, but took issue with GAO's recommendation that the Secretary work with states to consider collecting more comprehensive information on UI claimants' services and outcomes. Labor commented that, in its view, current and planned efforts would provide sufficient information for policy makers. However, we believe that Labor's efforts would not provide a complete picture of UI claimants' services and outcomes.
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