Unemployment Insurance Program

Congress should mandate a minimum duration of 26 weeks

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When workers are laid off, it takes time to find a new job. On average, it took workers 30.3 weeks to find a new job in the second quarter of 2021. Yet after the last recession, some states cut their maximum weeks of benefits to as little as 12 weeks. Even if workers still haven't found a new job, they can lose all unemployment support if it takes them longer to find work. For example, in Florida, with a 12-week benefit duration pre-pandemic, almost half of workers receiving unemployment ran out of benefits before finding work. The sudden cutoff of benefits can lead to higher rates of food and housing insecurity. The loss of benefits also harms small businesses and the economy as it sharply cuts community spending, stalling economic growth and pulling needed resources out of the community. Workers of color are the most directly harmed by reducing the maximum duration of benefits because due to systemic racism, Black and Latinx workers are typically the first fired and last hired, leading to longer average durations of unemployment. The federal government should ensure that unemployed workers in every state can access at least 26 weeks of unemployment benefits.

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Idea No. 201