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Failing the Unemployed: A State-by-State Evaluation of Unemployment Insurance Systems

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The U.S. unemployment insurance system, the primary safety net for workers in times of economic recession, is in need of significant repair. The current system, a state-by-state patchwork of policies and provisions, is rife with shortcomings and inequities. Perhaps the most important of these involves the difficulty many workers face in even qualifying for benefits. Unfortunately, those who are eligible to receive benefits sometimes find that the maximum benefit does not keep a family from falling into poverty. To make matters worse, unemployed workers and their families certainly aren't helped by the fact that benefits often run out long before firms begin to re-hire workers.

Of course, states could protect workers by extending the benefit duration, but many states have not adopted the provisions necessary to weather an economic downturn like the one the economy is now experiencing.