Additional Unemployment Compensation Benefits During the Great Recession: Recipients and Their Post-Claim Outcomes

Publisher: Washington, DC: Mathematica Policy Research
Mar 02, 2016
Authors
Heinrich Hock, Walter Nicholson, Karen Needels, Joanne Lee, and Priyanka Anand

Key Findings:

  • Over 45 percent of the recipients we studied collected additional weeks of benefits through the EUC08/EB benefits, a larger fraction of UC recipients than served by past emergency benefits programs.
  • Recipients who collected EUC08/EB benefits were more likely than those who collected only UI benefits to have difficulties in securing or maintaining employment.
  • The availability of extra weeks of UC benefits was correlated with less employment during the three years following the initial claim and no change in longer-term employment.
  • The recipients we studied derived a modest amount of financial support from ARRA provisions that increased the monetary value of benefits.
This report examines expansions to the unemployment compensation system that followed the onset of the Great Recession. Before the recession, eligible workers losing a job could collect up to 26 weeks of unemployment insurance (UI) benefits in most states. Near the end of 2009, up to 99 weeks were available in high-unemployment states through the UI program, the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Act of 2008 (EUC08) program, and the Extended Benefits (EB) program. Our main analysis used administrative and survey data on 2,122 recipients in 12 states. We found that EUC08/EB benefits were collected by 45 percent of the UI recipients we studied, particularly those from groups that historically faced employment barriers. Each additional week of available benefits was associated with an increase of 0.08 to 0.17 weeks in the length of initial joblessness and larger reductions in the total time employed over the three years following the quarter of recipients’ initial UI claims. The report also includes an analysis of provisions of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 that increased the monetary value of benefits. Among the recipients we studied, we estimate that these provisions together increased average benefit amounts by around 7 percent. Based on past research on weekly benefit amounts, this resulted in relatively minor increases in the lengths of recipients’ unemployment spells.