Publication Type

US unemployment insurance in the pandemic and beyond

Jason Furman (PIIE)

Policy Briefs 20-10


Unemployment insurance in the United States has played a critical role in both protecting workers who lost their jobs and supporting the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic. The abrupt expiration of any form of expanded unemployment insurance at the end of July 2020 would create problems both for the workers directly affected and for the economy as a whole, reducing GDP by about 2.5 percent in the second half of 2020—more than a typical year’s worth of economic growth. Furman emphasizes that expanded unemployment insurance should continue, with adjustments made as the unemployment rate changes. He also points out that the unemployment insurance system had major shortcomings even before the COVID-19 crisis and should be permanently reformed.

Data Disclosure:

The data underlying this analysis are available here.

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