The Job Ahead: Advancing Opportunity for Unemployed Workers

Source: Claire McKenna, National Employment Law Project (NELP), February 2015

…This paper presents a menu of state policy options that respond to the continued crisis of long-term unemployment and the nation’s growing reliance on part-time and temporary work. It highlights tried-and-true policy responses as well as new innovations that address the needs of the current workforce. Key steps for state lawmakers to take are as follows…

Preventing Long-Term Unemployment
1. Prioritize funding for comprehensive reemployment services, to offset declining federal commitment. ….
2. Encourage part-time employment while claimants look for full-time jobs by amending state partial unemployment insurance rules. ….
3. Prevent job losses during recessions by enacting work-sharing programs. ….
4. Prohibit hiring discrimination against jobless workers and enlist businesses to recruit qualified unemployed job applicants. ….

Expanding Unemployment Insurance Access for Lower-Wage Workers
1. Extend eligibility to part-time workers and anyone who wants to reduce their schedules for compelling reasons. ….
2. Strengthen state partial unemployment insurance rules to supplement earnings for underemployed workers. ….
3. Eliminate arbitrary temporary worker disqualifications. ….
4. Broaden good-cause rules for workers who voluntarily quit their jobs. ….

Providing Greater Help for Long-Term Unemployed Jobseekers
1. Establish subsidized work programs for long-term jobless workers, including unemployment insurance exhaustees. ….
2. Provide up to 26 weeks of additional unemployment benefits for jobless workers receiving training. ….
3. Better connect long-term unemployed workers and families with government support programs. ….
4. Provide 26 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits to jobless workers. ….

Shoring Up Unemployment Insurance Infrastructure
1. Adopt responsible financing measures to ensure preparation for the next recession. ….
2. Dedicate greater resources to state unemployment insurance program administration. ….
3. Reduce access barriers for low-income workers and workers with language and literacy limitations. ….