Gender and Unemployment Insurance: Why Women Receive Unemployment Benefits at Lower Rates Than Men and Will Unemployment Insurance Reform Close the Gender Gap?

Article excerpt

1.INTRODUCTION ..................................................................................... 56

II.UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE GENERALLY ............................... 57

A. Creation & Structure of Unemployment Insurance ................... 57

B. Importance of Unemployment Insurance on Economic Recovery .................................................................................... 58

C. Unemployment Insurance Needs To Be Modernized ................. 59

III.GENDER INEQUALITY IN THE UI SYSTEM ................................... 60

A. Reasoning Behind the Gender Gap in Unemployment Benefits ...................................................................................... 60

1. Monetary Eligibility Criteria ............................................... 60

2. Part-Time Workers .............................................................. 61

3. Allowable Reasons for Job Loss .......................................... 62

B. Importance of Allowing More Women to Qualify for Unemployment Insurance ......................................................... 63

IV.UIMA & ARRA ..................................................................................... 64

A. Legislative History ..................................................................... 64

B. ARRA Reforms ........................................................................... 65

1. Alternative Base Period ....................................................... 65

2. Seeking Part-Time Work ..................................................... 66

3. Compelling Family Reason ................................................. 66

4. Training and Education Programs ....................................... 67

5. Allowances for Unemployed Workers Caring for Dependent Children ............................................................. 68

C. Criticism of ARRA UI Modernization ........................................ 68

D. Response to ARRA UI Modernization Criticism ........................ 69

E. Concluding Remarks on ARRA UI Reform ................................ 70

V.SUGGESTED ADDITIONAL REFORMS FOR UI MODERNIZATION ......................................................................... 71

A. Improving the ARRA Funding Structure .................................... 71

B. Further Suggestions for Enhancing the UI System .................... 72

1. Broadening "Compelling Family Reason" .......................... 72

2. Reforming Benefit Levels .................................................... 72

3. Reforming Earnings Requirements ...................................... 73

4. Extending Benefits ............................................................... 73

5. UI Benefit Contention .......................................................... 74

VI.CONCLUSION ...................................................................................... 74

I. INTRODUCTION

As unemployment continues to grow and exceed record recession levels, it has become increasingly vital that laid-off workers have a means to weather the economic climate by receiving unemployment benefits. The unemployment insurance benefit system provides temporary income assistance to workers who become unemployed through no fault of their own. However, not every worker qualifies for benefits once they become unemployed. Many unemployed workers are not receiving benefits. This is particularly true of women.1 The fact that many women are not eligible for unemployment benefits, due to outdated eligibility requirements such as wage and hour requirements and restrictions placed on allowable reasons for job loss, is troublesome.2 This Note argues that provisions introduced by the Unemployment Insurance Modernization Act of 2009 (ULMA)3, and later made into law under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA)4, are a step in the right direction towards unemployment benefit reform in America. …