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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: Geoff Kenyon, Principal Deputy Chief Financial Officer

Program Accountable Official: Portia Wu, Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training



Total Payments (Outlays)more info


Improper Paymentsmore info


Improper Payment Ratemore info


9.2% 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. For the period July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015, state agencies completed audits for 23,590 paid claims cases, a completion rate of 99.99%. The UI program’s estimated annual improper payment rate for FY 2015 is 10.73%, with an estimated dollar amount of $3.53 billion, consisting of $3.38 billion in overpayments plus $0.15 billion in underpayments. States reported total overpayment recoveries of $1.13 billion, which includes overpayments recovered from the state UI, UCFE, UCX, EUC, and EB programs. The improper payment classification displayed on the payment accuracy website does not align precisely with the way the UI program classifies root causes of improper payments. For this reason, "authentication" errors have been overstated to compensate for errors that don't logically fall into any of the classification categories. Read More...