Readings in Social Security

By William Haber; Wilbur J. Cohen | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE AND THE
EMPLOYMENT SERVICE

"In spite of the fact that unemployment compensation has been the subject of discussion for almost a generation, … there is still some disagreement as to its primary purpose and as to its basic principles. It is generally conceived of as a multiple-purpose program, although different groups emphasize different aspects of it."

ISSUES IN SOCIAL SECURITY. Report to the Committee on Ways and
Means
, 1946, p. 368.

"The greatest evil of unemployment is not physical but moral, not the want which it may bring but the hatred and fear which it breeds."

Beveridge, William H., FULL EMPLOYMENT IN A FREE SOCIETY. W. W. Norton, New York, 1945, p. 15.


INTRODUCTION

IN 1935 the Congress enacted Federal legislation to encourage the establishment of a state system of unemployment insurance as part of the Social Security Act. Only one state, Wisconsin, had enacted an unemployment insurance law prior to 1935, yet less than two years after the passage of the Social Security Act unemployment insurance laws were on the statute books of all 51 jurisdictions (48 States, Alaska, Hawaii, and the District of Columbia). The Social Security Act within this short span of time was responsible for the establishment of unemployment insurance laws throughout the country. The basic Federal legislation dealing with unemployment insurance was amended in 1939 and 1944 and now consists of the following three parts.

A 3 percent tax against which employers are permitted to offset, up to 90 percent, contributions made by them under

-145-

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