Document Type

Article

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Abstract

Unemployment Insurance (UI) is one the nation’s most effective anti-poverty and economic stabilization policies. Unfortunately, the number of workers receiving benefits has substantially declined in recent decades. This paper probes one likely cause of this phenomenon that scholars have mostly ignored: the rise of non-standard employment, including part-time, temporary, contract, on-call, and independent contract work. Like many New Deal programs, UI was designed to aid individuals with long-term, full-time jobs. It is therefore poorly adapted to a non-standard workforce characterized by low wages, uncertain schedules, and short-lived assignments. Indeed, the analysis shows that UI’s monetary eligibility criteria, non-monetary eligibility requirements, outreach mechanisms, and exclusions all disadvantage non-standard workers. The paper proposes reforms in each of these areas to combat this imbalance.

Date of Authorship for this Version

2018

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