Unemployment Insurance Essay

  • Last Edited: February 13, 2018
unemployment insurance essay

Essay Prompt

An unemployment insurance essay – write a well-developed essay (1-2 pages) describing how unemployment insurance programs operate in the United States, and some of the arguments for and against such programs.

How Unemployment Insurance Works

Unemployment insurance is a program that exists in the United States at the federal and state levels combined and it allows people to have a bit of a safety net when they lose their job, especially if the job loss is unexpected. Indeed, people that quit on their own terms do not get money after leaving a job. However, people that are fired or laid off generally get at leats a few months of insurance. In times of higher economic strain such as the Great Recession, the length of the allowable benefits is often extended. While most people would not argue that unemployment insurance is not needed, there are many that say the length of the benefits and/or the strings attached to getting the money should be altered when the situation calls for it.


A job loss can rock the finances of a family. Indeed, the bills do not stop just because the money stops coming in. Beyond that, many people lose their jobs due to factors out of their control such as a company downsizing or closing a factory in a given city in favor of another one. Even so, many people get fired for tangible and specific reasons that are solely (or at least mainly) the fault of the employee. Even so, an employee being ruined from a credit and/or job history standpoint should not be allowed to occur for one error over the course of a person’s life. As such, that is where unemployment insurance comes in. Employers (in most cases) pay a percentage-based tax based on wages paid and those taxes are used to fund benefits for the currently unemployed (BizFilings, 2016).

Even with that, there are situations where unemployment insurance is abused. One perfect example was when the Great Recession happened in 2007 to 2009. While there was most certainly an economic meltdown during that time period and in the years preceding it, unemployment benefits were extended for many people to a rather staggering 99 weeks. That is nearly two years and is a bit excessive, perhaps. Even if it is not, there were absolutely at least some people that were “milking” their unemployment and made it a point to avoid getting work until benefits were about to lapse and stop coming in. Much the same arguments have been made for welfare/SNAP and other benefits payable to the poor and/or temporarily disenfranchised. The problem, however, is that cracking down on such people is hard to do without hurting people that are doing their best to find work but are in areas with poor job outlooks and/or the person cannot find something that matches their skills, schedules and family obligations. Even with the fact that many people have kids that they cannot afford and even with the fact that some people are just terrible employees, there is not really a singular solution that would help the well-minded and good-intentioned people that lose work (Newman, 2016). However, it is also very telling when people on 99 weeks of unemployment follow this conspicuously by filing for Social Security Disability when they had not done so prior. There were surely cases where pride was the issue and not laziness but to suggest that there was no malfeasance at all is a bit dubious. Beyond that, many people “double dip” in that they will collect unemployment and Social Security retirement at the same time (Yarrow, 2011).


The unemployment system is absolutely needed but there are people that which absolutely need more stick and less carrot. However, doing so in a gentle and fair way is not the easiest thing to pull off as some people legitimately fall on hard times and “kicking them while they are down” is less than wise. There needs to be a culture shift that moves people back to working and covering their obligations. There should also be better family and life path planning being done so that people are having kids, buying houses and so forth when they are truly ready so that the government and the taxpayer is less burdened when there are economic problems.


BizFilings. (2016). The Unemployment Benefits System:  How it Works and When to Contest a Claim | Biz Filings Toolkit. Bizfilings.com. Retrieved 26 August 2016, from http://www.bizfilings.com/toolkit/sbg/office-hr/managing-the-workplace/unemployment-benefits-system-info.aspx

Newman, R. (2016). Unemployment: How the Lazy Are Hurting the Needy. US News & World Report. Retrieved 26 August 2016, from http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/rick-newman/2012/04/03/unemployment-how-the-lazy-are-hurting-the-needy

Yarrow, A. (2016). Unemployed and Retired? You Can Double Dip Too. businessinsider.com. Retrieved 26 August 2016, from http://www.businessinsider.com/unemployed-and-retired-you-too-can-double-dip-2011-8

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