Exhaustees of Extended Unemployment Benefits Programs: Coping with the Aftermath of the Great Recession

Publisher: Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research
Jun 16, 2016
Karen Needels, Walter Nicholson, Joanne Lee, and Heinrich Hock

Key Findings:

  • Twenty-six percent of recipients in our main analysis file—recipients who collected benefits from only one claim during a three-year period—exhausted all of the unemployment compensation benefits to which they were entitled. Overall, these exhaustees collected an average of 87 weeks of benefits compared to 28 weeks of benefits for nonexhaustees.
  • Four to six years after their initial claims, exhaustees were statistically significantly less likely to be employed and more likely to be out of the labor force compared to nonexhaustees.
  • Exhaustees experienced greater losses in household income and had higher rates of participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Social Security retirement, and disability-related income support programs.
  • Relative to recipients with long jobless spells, nonrecipients with long jobless spells were less likely to become reemployed in the subsequent few years following their layoff and had lower household incomes.
The Great Recession and the time period following it were characterized by the longest average unemployment durations seen since World War II. In response, policymakers implemented initiatives that, in conjunction with benefits available during nonrecessionary times, offered up to 99 weeks of unemployment compensation (UC) benefits to eligible recipients in some states. This study examines the extent to which recipients collected all of the benefits to which they were entitled (“exhausting” their benefits) and assesses the outcomes experienced by those who exhausted their entitlements relative to (1) recipients who did not exhaust all of the benefits to which they were entitled and (2) unemployed UC nonrecipients. For the analyses, we used survey and administrative data from 10 states on UC recipients who filed claims from January 2008 through September 2009, as well as data from the Displaced Worker Supplement to the Current Population Survey.