Publication Date



[Excerpt] This report examines the antipoverty effects of unemployment insurance benefits during the past recession and the economic recovery. The analysis highlights the impact of the additional and expanded unemployment insurance (UI) benefits available to unemployed workers through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA; P.L. 111-5) and the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC08) program (Title IV of P.L. 110-252). In 2011, approximately 56% of all unemployed individuals were receiving UI benefits (down from a high of 66% in 2010) and thus were directly affected by legislative changes to the UI system. UI benefits appear to have a large poverty-reducing effect among unemployed workers who receive them. Given the extended length of unemployment among jobless workers, the additional weeks of UI benefits beyond the regular program’s 26-week limit appear to have had an especially important effect in poverty reduction.

Estimates presented in this report are based on Congressional Research Service (CRS) analysis of 25 years of data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Annual Social and Economic Supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS/ASEC), administered from 1988 to 2012. The period examined includes the three most recent economic recessions.


Suggested Citation
Gabe, T. & Whittaker, J. M. (2012). Antipoverty effects of unemployment insurance. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service.

An earlier version of this report can be found here: