The COVID-19 stimulus packages included desperately needed supports for the UI system, which allowed millions to survive during the pandemic and stimulated the economy, but also laid bare the long-simmering problems in the system, including outdated eligibility, inadequate benefit levels, and rickety administration and technology. Unfortunately, as these programs near expiration – and in the case of many states, are prematurely cut off – there is still an enormous need for bold reforms to strengthen the system for the future.
The National Women’s Law Center as well as 50 additional organizations write to urge Congress to ensure that millions of people – including women supporting families – do not lose their unemployment benefits and that unemployment protections are strengthened by mandating:
- A duration of at least 26 weeks of benefits;
- Adequate wage replacement rates so that workers can truly make ends meet while looking for a new job;
- Making sure that the earnings necessary to qualify for UI in the first place don’t exclude a significant portion of a state’s low-wage workforce;
- Coverage of part time-workers and those who have to leave their jobs for compelling circumstances.
- Establishment of a jobseeker’s allowance to support new entrants and other unemployed workers without the work history to qualify for UI
Fixing unemployment insurance is not just an urgent economic issue; it is an urgent women’s rights issue, it is an urgent racial justice issue, and is an urgent disability justice issue. Please work to make an economy where women and families can thrive as we seek to recover from this pandemic and beyond.