The U.S. unemployment insurance (UI) benefit system serves as the first line of defense for millions of workers and their families when they lose their jobs. When workers become unemployed they often apply for and receive UI benefits. However, the rate and duration of UI benefits varies widely depending on the state in which the employee has worked.
During the mid to late 2000s, record high levels of unemployment coupled with low UI reserve funds have threatened the stability of the federal-state UI tax and benefit system. Since June 2013, 18 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands have exhausted their UI trust funds and are borrowing from the federal government to pay unemployment benefits. Meanwhile, 6 states are currently using employer financed bonds to repay federal loans, and 9 states have positive balances of less than six months of benefits in their state trust funds.