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Alternative Measures of State UI Systems


  • Christopher J. O'Leary

    () (W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research)

  • Robert Tannenwald

    (Federal Reserve Bank of Boston)

  • Wei-Jang Huang
  • Pei Zhu


Comparisons among state unemployment insurance (UI) systems can be misleading. Frequently quoted indicators of benefit generosity, tax cost, and adherence to the experience-rating principle are influenced by the relative economic conditions of states. Such comparisons thereby obscure underlying structural differences in state UI systems. A business considering alternative states in which to locate a production facility should be cautious when interpreting UI information in an economic developer's marketing pitch. This paper offers alternative indicators based on how representative firms, with a well specified unemployment experience, would fare in different states. The authors use a micro-simulation approach to model the experiences of representative workers and firms to compare 28 states and contrast the results with those obtained from more conventional indicators. In closing, the authors consider whether a business location decision would be influenced differently by the alternative measures of state UI systems.

Suggested Citation

  • Christopher J. O'Leary & Robert Tannenwald & Wei-Jang Huang & Pei Zhu, 2000. "Alternative Measures of State UI Systems," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 00-62, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:upj:weupjo:00-62

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Robert Tannenwald & Christopher J. O'Leary, 1997. "Unemployment insurance policy in New England: background and issues," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue May, pages 3-22.
    2. Topel, Robert H, 1984. "Experience Rating of Unemployment Insurance and the Incidence of Unemployment," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(1), pages 61-90, April.
    3. Robert Tannenwald & Christopher J. O'Leary & Wei-Jang Huang, 1999. "New ways of evaluating state unemployment insurance," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Mar, pages 15-40.
    4. Christopher J. O'Leary & Murray Rubin, 1997. "Adequacy of the Weekly Benefit Amount," Book chapters authored by Upjohn Institute researchers,in: Christopher J. O'Leary & Stephen A. Wandner (ed.), Unemployment Insurance in the United States: Analysis of Policy Issues, chapter 5, pages 163-210 W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
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    More about this item


    unemployment; insurance; state; O'Leary; Tannenwald;

    JEL classification:

    • J0 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General
    • J6 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers

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