Meeting Archive:
Strengthening Unemployment Protections in America: The Case for a Stronger Federal Role and Opportunities for State Action

Meeting Description:

Unemployment insurance (UI) is run jointly by the federal government and state governments. Federal law sets minimum administration and coverage requirements, but gives states broad flexibility in determining eligibility, benefit adequacy, and financing. Unprecedented federal borrowing by states during and after the Great Recession triggered harmful benefit cuts and eligibility restrictions, but little action to increase state tax revenues. The result is that state UI programs are as weak as they have ever been, with a record-low share of jobless workers (only 27 percent) receiving benefits nationally in 2015. In 13 states, less than 1 in 5 received benefits. Today, just 18 states have enough reserves to pay benefits for a year of a recession.

In a new report, the Center for American ProgressGeorgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality, and National Employment Law Project advocate a stronger federal role in the federal-state UI partnership, proposing new federal standards for state UI programs in key areas. For jobseekers with limited recent work histories, the proposal offers a new Jobseeker’s Allowance.

During the webinar, three of the coauthors will walk through the report’s main recommendations. In addition, a long-time advocate for unemployed and low-wage Pennsylvania workers will offer an assessment of the proposal, from the state perspective. Finally, you will hear tips for how your organization can help with the federal reform effort. 


  • Claire McKenna (Moderator), Senior Policy Analyst, National Employment Law Project
  • Rachel West, Associate Director, Poverty to Prosperity Program, Center for American Progress
  • Kali Grant, Program Coordinator, Project on Deep Poverty, Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality
  • Sharon Dietrich, Litigation Director and Managing Attorney, Employment Unit, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia
  • Jeremy Slevin, Associate Director of Advocacy, Poverty to Prosperity Program, Center for American Progress


Date: Thu, Jul 21, 2016
Time: 02:30 PM EDT
Duration: 1 hour
Host(s): NELP