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October 2012, Vol. 135, No. 10
Unemployment Insurance participation by education and by race and ethnicity
Alix Gould-Werth and H. Luke Shaefer
Alix Gould-Werth is a doctoral candidate, and H. Luke Shaefer is an assistant professor, at the School of Social Work, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. Email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The purpose of the Federal-State Unemployment Insurance (UI) Program is to provide partial wage replacement for individuals who lose a job through no fault of their own. The program also serves to stabilize the macroeconomy during economic downturns.1 Receipt of UI, however, is far from universal, with consistently less than half of unemployed workers receiving benefits, outside of major economic downturns.2 Which workers fall into the group of insured unemployed and which do not varies with several factors, such as the worker's reason for unemployment, earnings history, part-time or fulltime work status, union coverage, and duration of unemployment. Little research, however, has been devoted to whether application for and receipt of benefits among applicants varies systematically with two key demographic characteristics: educational attainment, and race and ethnicity.
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1 See Stephen A. Wandner and Andrew Stettner, "Why are many jobless workers not applying for benefits?" Monthly Labor Review, June 2000, pp. 21–33, http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2000/06/art2full.pdf; and Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support, Committee on Ways and Means, House of Representatives, Unemployment Insurance: Low-Wage and Part-Time Workers Continue to Experience Low Rates of Receipt, GAO 07–1147 (U.S. Government Accountability Office, September 2007).
2 George Wentworth, "Unemployment Insurance at 75: Assessing Benefit Eligibility, Adequacy and Duration," PowerPoint presentation given at the NASWA UI Directors/Legal Affairs Conference, Washington, DC, Oct. 19, 2010.
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