[Excerpt] The recession of 2007 to 2009 was the most severe in the United States since the 1930s, resulting in a net loss of 7.5 million jobs. Workers who lose a job through no fault of their own (referred to as “displaced workers” in this report) may turn to financial assistance offered through the Unemployment Insurance (UI) program. Currently, through benefit extensions authorized by Congress, eligible displaced workers can receive UI benefits for up to 99 weeks in certain states. However, with the slow economic recovery, some may exhaust UI benefits without finding a new job. This raises questions about how Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), a program that provides cash assistance to low-income families with children, and other support programs are aiding those who have exhausted UI benefits.
GAO was asked to examine: (1) how many of the workers who lost jobs in the recession received and exhausted UI; (2) what are the economic circumstances of those who exhausted UI, and how many received support from TANF and other programs; and (3) the extent to which UI agencies refer those exhausting UI to other support programs. GAO analyzed data from the Current Population Survey’s 2008 and 2010 Displaced Worker Supplements and the 2010 Annual Social and Economic Supplement and data from the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services. GAO also surveyed 51 state UI agencies and conducted interviews with 16 state TANF agencies, selected to reflect a range of unemployment rate changes in recent years.
GAO is making no recommendations in this report.