This book attempts to present an accessible survey of what is known about how the federal-state system of unemployment insurance (UI) works in the United States and to offer ideas for further improvement of the system. To faithfully accomplish such a challenging project required the dedicated effort of many experts on the UI program.
The chapters for this book were originally written for and presented at a conference held in June 1995 at Kalamazoo, Michigan. The conference was jointly sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor and the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. It was a main event in the celebration of the Institute's fiftieth anniversary.
At the conference, after each chapter was presented by the author, extensive oral and written comments were provided by a primary discussant who suggested ways to improve the content and exposition. Other conference participants also offered comments on each chapter. Following the conference, almost all chapters were extensively rewritten, based on input from discussants, conference attendees, and the editors.
The introductory and concluding chapters were written by the editors. Strong contributions from the talented researchers who wrote the other chapters made this task a pleasure. The chapters are structured so as to naturally form a comprehensive book on UI policy, yet at the same time remain independent self-contained tracts on each topic. While this dual aim resulted in a small degree of overlap, we felt that the value of the book as a reference will benefit significantly. For example, rather than listing all references together at the back of the book, we place chapter-specific references at the end of each separate chapter, thereby providing brief topic bibliographies.
Having completed our attempt at this substantial project, we now hold our predecessors—William Haber, Merrill Murray, and Saul Blaustein—in even greater esteem. We are indebted to them and also to Wilbur Cohen and Murray Rubin for laying the foundation for the present volume. We also thank the chapter authors, without whom this project would have been impossible. Brief biographical sketches for them are provided in the section “about the authors,” which appears near the back of the book. We also thank the conference chapter discussants, who are recognized individually in the notes to each chapter. Many other friends of the Upjohn Institute and experts on UI who attended the conference also contributed valuable and constructive guidance for the project. These included the scholars who served as session chairs for the conference: Bob Spiegelman, Gary Burtless, Bob LaLonde, Carl Davidson, Frank Brechling, Susan Houseman, and David Fretwell.