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June 2006, Vol. 129, No. 6
State UI job search rules and reemployment services
Christopher J. O’Leary
Ever since the Federal-State unemployment insurance (UI) system was implemented following the enactment of the Social Security Act in 1935, the reemployment of claimants has been an important emphasis of the program. This article examines whether UI requirements pertaining to job searches and UI mechanisms connecting claimants with reemployment services tend to shorten the duration of those claim-ants’ insured unemployment. Evidence is presented from a 2003 National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA) survey of all State UI programs.1 Also presented is evidence about the effect of State UI policies and reemployment assistance on the duration of insured unemployment. Although the sizes of the estimated impacts differ, the consistent finding is that both UI work search requirements and UI reemployment services tend to shorten claimants’ duration of insured unemployment by speeding their return to work.
There is significant variation across States in many aspects of UI program design. All State UI programs pay partial wage replacement to eligible claimants for a period of up to 6 months to workers who become unemployed through no fault of their own.2 State rules establish initial eligibility requirements defining acceptable conditions for job separation and the degree of prior labor force attachment. Workers who quit their jobs or who were justly dismissed for cause are normally denied initial eligibility for benefits. UI claimants who do initially qualify for benefits must demonstrate, on a week-to-week basis, that they are able to work, are available for work, and are actively seeking a job in order to continue collecting jobless compensation. State rules requiring job searches by UI claimants are commonly called the "UI work test."
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1 NASWA conducted a survey of State unemployment insurance job search policies in 2003. Responses were received from all 50 States and two other jurisdictions: the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. (The survey did not include the Virgin Islands, which also has a UI program.) All 52 of the responding jurisdictions will be called "States" in this article. The full report on the NASWA survey is presented in Christopher J. O’Leary, UI Work Search Rules and Their Effect on Employment, report prepared for the Center for Employment Security Education and Research (Washington, DC, NASWA, February 2004); on the Internet at www.workforceatm.org/sections/pdf/2004/UI_Work_Search.pdf. An earlier version of the current article appeared as Christopher J. O’Leary and Stephen A. Wandner, "Do Job Search Rules and Reemployment Services Reduce Insured Unemployment?" Upjohn Institute Staff Working Paper No. 05–112 (Kalamazoo, MI, W. E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, 2005).
2 The period during which participants are entitled to regular benefits can be as long as 30 weeks (in Massachusetts and Washington State), depending on the person’s recent employment and earnings.
Related BLS programs
Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey
Why are many jobless workers not applying for benefits?—June 2000.
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