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Unemployment Insurance (UI)

Department of Labor

The Federal-State Unemployment Insurance program helps cushion the impact of economic downturns and brings economic stability to communities, states, and the nation by providing temporary income support for laid off workers. The program provides unemployment benefits to eligible workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own (as determined under state law), and who meet other eligibility requirements of state law.
  • Each state administers a separate unemployment insurance program within guidelines established by federal law.
  • Eligibility for unemployment insurance, benefit amounts, and the length of time benefits are available are determined by the state law under which unemployment insurance claims are established.

Agency Accountable Official: James L. Taylor, Chief Financial Officer

Program Accountable Official: Jane Oates, Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training



Total Payments (Outlays)more info


Improper Paymentsmore info


Improper Payment Ratemore info


9.7% Improper Payment Rate Target more info

All amounts are in billions of dollars

Tabular view for Projected improper payments Tabular View   

Program Comments

The Department of Labor estimates Unemployment Insurance (UI) program integrity rates through the Benefit Accuracy Measurement (BAM) program, which is a statistical survey of paid and denied UI claims. States conduct comprehensive audits of samples of claims to verify claimant eligibility and determine the accuracy of decisions to pay or deny benefits. The 2011 improper payment rate of 12.0 percent for the program exceeded the target of 9.8 percent. The estimated overpayment rate was 11.35 percent, and the estimated underpayment rate was 0.65 percent. The 2011 overpayment rate of 11.35 percent represents an increase from the 2010 rate of 10.6 percent, largely attributable to an increase in overpayments to claimants who: 1) did not meet their active work search requirements; 2) continued to claim UI benefits after they returned to work; and 3) were ineligible for benefits because they voluntarily quit their jobs or were discharged for misconduct. These three causes account for over 70 percent of all overpayments in 2011. An estimated 2.94 percent of UI benefits were overpaid due to fraud in 2011. These fraud overpayments are included as part of the 11.35 percent total overpayment rate.  Read More...