With unemployment across the nation leveling out compared to recent years, you might be wondering, why would it matter for employers now?
Since the Great Recession took its initial toll on the state unemployment insurance (UI) funds, states across the U.S. have gone into considerable debt in order to provide benefits for millions of unemployed. Trying to combat unemployment costs while restoring their debt with the federal government, many states look towards alternative measures to repair their financial foundations.
In 2011, states accumulated a debt of over $47 billion owed to the federal government– the peak of the United States’ economic deficit. While the federal debt has since decreased, with 16 states still owing over $21 billion at the beginning of 2014, a lot of states took out private loans to avoid an automatic increase in their federal unemployment tax on employers.
With a low UI trust fund balance, many states have been forced to cut their unemployment benefits, rather than borrowing additional money from the government. Other alternative methods used to reach state solvency include:
- higher tax rates on employers,
- a short-term unemployment benefits system,
- and private bond market loans
Such actions were meant to diminish volatility and recover sensibly from the impact of the debt.
While the states have steadily reduced the debts triggered by the Great Recession, the U.S. has a long way to go before they achieve full economic restoration. And employers will continue to see their overall cost of unemployment steadily rising, if their state is to both recover and prepare for the next downturn.
To see how your state unemployment insurance trust fund debt compares to other states, view Stateline’s chart here.
Learn more about how the U.S. is affected by the unemployment trust fund debt here.