More About Hannah Shaw

Hannah Shaw

Hannah Shaw joined the Center in August of 2008. Her work as a research associate centers on income inequality, unemployment insurance, and economic analysis of other federal budget and policy issues.

Full bio and recent public appearances | Research archive at

Over 500,000 Workers Are Out of Jobs – and Prematurely Out of Benefits

July 9, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Tens of thousands of unemployed workers in New Jersey, Nevada, and Rhode Island were cut off of their final unemployment insurance (UI) benefits this week, as federal UI benefits continue to wind down.

Over most of the past three years, additional weeks of UI benefits were available for those searching for work but unable to find a job in states facing high unemployment.  However, as I’ve explained in recent posts, program changes enacted when policymakers extended federal UI at the beginning of the year have begun to take effect, cutting the number of weeks available in many states – and prematurely ending UI benefits for many people still looking for work.

Most states offer up to 26 weeks of UI benefits through their regular programs. As we’ve explained, additional benefits have been available through two programs: the temporary Emergency Unemployment Compensation program and the permanent Extended Benefits (EB) program.  Taken together, the programs offered unemployed workers up to 99 weeks of benefits in many of the states with very high levels of unemployment.

New Jersey, Nevada, and Rhode Island were the final three states offering 20 weeks of EB (13 weeks of EB benefits remain available in Idaho, where the unemployment rate is lower).  This means that for the first time since June 2009, no state has up to 99 weeks of UI benefits available.

This week’s change affects more than 44,000 UI recipients, bringing the total number who have lost benefits since the beginning of the year to 511,000 (see table).  As we’ve explained previously, benefits have ended in these states not because economic conditions have improved, but because they have not significantly deteriorated in the past three years.

The maps below compare the number of weeks now available in each state (the top map) to the number of weeks available in each state at the beginning of the year (the bottom map).

Fewer Weeks of Benefits Available to Unemployed Workers in 24 States, Cont.

June 26, 2012 at 2:29 pm

As my previous post explained, cuts took effect in 24 states this week in the number of available weeks of federal emergency unemployment insurance (UI) benefits.  That’s due to changes that policymakers made to the program (called Emergency Unemployment Compensation or EUC) when they extended it early this year.

Our newly updated “Introduction to Unemployment Insurance” has the details, but basically, there are four “tiers” of EUC benefits.  States with higher levels of unemployment qualify for more tiers and therefore workers in those states are eligible for more weeks of federal benefits.

Here’s what the tiers look like as of this week:


The changes that took effect this week raise the unemployment-rate thresholds that states must meet to provide benefits in the three higher EUC tiers, as this chart shows:

Until this week, for example, workers could receive at least 47 weeks of EUC if their state’s unemployment rate was at least 6 percent; now the threshold is 7 percent.

The next major change to the program will take place in September, when the number of weeks available will shrink for those still looking for work in all states.

Fewer Weeks of Benefits Available to Unemployed Workers in 24 States

June 25, 2012 at 4:55 pm

Starting this week, workers in 24 states who exhaust their regular unemployment insurance (UI) benefits before they find a job will have fewer weeks of additional federal assistance available through the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program.

This cut in EUC benefits resulted from the legislation enacted in February that continued EUC payments through the end of the year but changed the formula for determining the number of weeks of benefits.

As a result:

  • Unemployed workers receiving benefits in the 11 states with unemployment rates below 6 percent — Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Wyoming — who cannot find work in 26 weeks (the duration of regular state benefits in most states) now will be eligible for only 20 additional weeks of benefits instead of the 34 weeks that EUC previously provided (reducing their total number of weeks of UI to 46, from 60).
  • Workers receiving UI benefits in the eight states with unemployment rates between 6 and 7 percent — Delaware, Hawaii, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, West Virginia, and Wisconsin — who have been looking for a job for 46 weeks will be eligible to receive only 14 more weeks of benefits, instead of 27 (reducing their total number of weeks to 60, from 73).
  • Those receiving UI benefits in the five states with unemployment rates between 8.5 and 9 percent — Arizona, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, and Oregon — who have been looking for work for 60 weeks will now be eligible to receive only 13 more weeks of benefits, instead of 19 weeks (reducing their total number of weeks to 73, from 79).

(Just to be clear, there aren’t any changes for workers receiving UI in states with unemployment rates above 7 percent but below 8.5 percent, or above 9 percent.)

These changes come on top of the phasing out of the Extended Benefits (EB) program, which provided either 13 or 20 weeks of additional benefits to workers who exhausted their EUC benefits before finding a job. As I explained previously, nearly half a million people lost benefits this year when EB payments ended in 28 states (payments will end in three of the four states still eligible for EB after the first week of July).

The maps below show the drop in the number of weeks of UI available to unemployed workers in most states since the beginning of the year.  (See this brief paper from our Policy Basics series for a weekly update of the number of weeks of UI available to workers in each state.)

Stay tuned for my next post, where I’ll discuss these changes — and those to come later in the year — in greater detail.

Pricing Carbon Pollution Pays Off in Northeast

June 13, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Global warming may be off Congress’ radar screen for now, but a group of northeastern states have operated coordinated cap and trade programs to “put a price” on carbon pollution since 2008 through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).  RGGI raised over $40 million last week in its sixteenth auction of permits to emit carbon dioxide; these auctions have raised more than $1 billion (see table).

RGGI is a useful reminder that we can raise revenue while achieving other important policy goals.

Each of the nine states participating in RGGI has set a cap on the pollution that electric power plants may release.  Electricity producers must hold a permit for each ton of carbon dioxide pollution they emit.  States distribute most of the permits through quarterly auctions.

States have used this revenue for a variety of purposes, including investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy, helping poor families pay their energy bills, and shrinking state budget shortfalls.

Furthermore, RGGI estimates that the coordinated programs will cut carbon dioxide pollution in the region by 10 percent by 2018.

At the federal level, too, raising revenues by limiting carbon dioxide pollution could help address two of our most pressing long-term concerns.  As we have discussed, federal policymakers should take a balanced approach to reducing long-term deficits that includes both spending cuts and revenue increases.  They should consider a carbon pollution tax or some other mechanism that puts a price on carbon pollution as a potential revenue source in this package.

More Long-Term Unemployed to Lose Benefits in June

May 30, 2012 at 10:31 am

As the New York Times pointed out yesterday, federal unemployment insurance (UI) benefits for the long-term unemployed continue to wind down. Payments through the Extended Benefit (EB) program will cease in two more states (New York and West Virginia) and in Washington, D.C., in early June, according to the Department of Labor’s latest data. As we’ve explained previously, benefits are ending in these states not because economic conditions have improved, but because they have not significantly deteriorated in the past three years.

Federal UI benefits have always been temporary, ending when the economy is back on track and job opportunities are starting to open up — but not before. And though private employment has grown for more than two years, the Labor Department’s most comprehensive alternative unemployment rate measure — which counts people who are unemployed, underemployed, or have given up looking for a job — stands at 14.5 percent (23 million people).  That figure is much higher than at the start of the recession or, before that, than any time for which we have available data, dating back to 1994.  Long-term unemployment also remains at record levels.

The table below reflects the latest estimates of the number of people who will have lost EB benefits by June. As I’ve noted before, the number of weeks of UI benefits available is shrinking, and beneficiaries will be eligible for even fewer once the first round of Emergency Unemployment Compensation reductions takes effect at the end of the June.

Nearly 500,000 Workers in 28 High Unemployment States Will have Lost UI Benefits by June