Monday, August 16, 2010

Unemployment Insurance turns 75

On August 14, 1935 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law. This landmark legislation contained provisions for unemployment insurance.

The Unemployment Insurance (UI) system was created to stabilize the economy and alleviate personal hardship stemming from involuntary job loss. It is a federal-state partnership, based on Federal law, but administered under state law.

The UI program provides temporary cash benefits to individuals who become unemployed through no fault of their own. In Oregon, employers pay into a trust fund that is used to provide unemployment benefits. Contributions to Oregon's unemployment insurance trust fund began in January, 1936, and the first unemployment benefit check was paid on January 15, 1938 to James H. Allen in Ontario for the sum of $15. In the first full year of the program, Oregon paid out more than $5.9 million in UI benefits. In 2009, Oregon made more than 8 million payments, totaling over $2.8 billion.

Individual recipients often spend UI benefits immediately for necessities such as food, fuel, and housing, providing some stability to struggling economies. Every dollar paid in unemployment benefits is estimated to generate $1.60 in economic activity.

To read more about the history of unemployment insurance, read the Employment Department's full press release.

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