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Identifying Key Barriers to Unemployment Insurance for Disadvantaged Workers in the United States

  • H. LUKE SHAEFER (a1)

This article seeks to identify key programmatic barriers to access to Unemployment Insurance (UI) faced by two groups of disadvantaged workers in the United States: those in the lowest wage quintile, and part-time workers who are primary wage earners. Analyses use the 2001 Panel of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), a nationally representative, longitudinal survey administered by the United States Census Bureau. Estimates of UI eligibility and receipt are presented for those who enter a spell of unemployment during the panel. Results suggest that a large majority of disadvantaged workers in the United States already meet UI earnings (monetary) requirements, and that barriers to access are more often the result of disadvantaged workers (1) assuming they are ineligible, or (2) not meeting non-monetary eligibility requirements because they voluntarily quit their job or were terminated for cause. Much of the focus in policy debates in the United States remains on reforming UI earnings requirements. If results presented in this article are correct, increasing UI access among disadvantaged workers will further require increasing rates of application through expanded knowledge about the programme among disadvantaged workers, and expanding (non-monetary) eligibility for job leavers.

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Journal of Social Policy
  • ISSN: 0047-2794
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