Economic Snapshot | Inequality and Poverty

Weekly benefit amounts for the unemployed

A weekly presentation of downloadable charts and short analyses designed to graphically illustrate important economic issues. Updated every Wednesday.

Snapshot for November 28, 2001.

Weekly benefit amounts for the unemployed
With jobless rates rising, the unemployment insurance (UI) system has come under close scrutiny. While there are many problems with the system, none is as glaring as the inadequacy of benefits. The chart below illustrates how UI benefits are distributed among recipients.

Cumulative distribution of unemployment insurance benefit amounts

The meager support provided by this social safety net is startling. Half of all UI checks are for less than $220 per week. Two-thirds of UI checks are for less than $250 per week. Those most in need-the bottom 10% of recipients-receive checks for less than $100 per week. The UI system does little to protect from poverty those who worked, paid taxes, and lost their job through no fault of their own.

This week’s Snapshot by EPI economist Jeffrey Wenger.

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