Income Insecurity: The Failure of Unemployment Insurance to Reach Out to Working AFDC Mothers

Roberta Spalter-Roth, Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D., Beverly Burr

March 20, 1994
  • ID: #D414

Unemployment Insurance (UI) was designed as a program to benefit full-time, full-year workers, usually with male bodies, facing periods of temporary layoff. In many states receipt of benefits requires relatively high prior earnings and involuntary reasons for job loss (with interruptions due to childbirth or family responsibilities usually disqualified as “voluntary quits”). Because female heads of households tend to have less continuity of employment than do male heads of families, they are twice as likely to face unemployment without UI benefits.

If Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), the primary income support program for impoverished single mothers and their children, becomes a time-limited program that promotes employment in the low-wage labor market, can UI serve as an effective substitute for AFDC, providing income security during periods of unemployment and non-employment?