February 10, 2021 - The 2021-22 Governor’s Budget proposes $555 million General Fund to make the first interest payment on federal loans the state received to pay unemployment insurance (UI) benefits after the UI fund became insolvent during the pandemic. Our office’s estimate of the upcoming interest payment is much lower—about $260 million. This lower estimate reflects (1) more plausible, up-to-date economic projections and (2) recent federal action to waive a portion of accrued interest for 2021. We recommend the Legislature adopt this lower placeholder amount. In addition, we recommend the Legislature take advantage of a provision of federal law that allows states to defer 75 percent of their UI loan interest payments during economic downturns. If the state chooses to partially defer its interest payment, we estimate the 2021-22 UI loan interest payment would total roughly $65 million.
September 30, 2016 - Due to a variety of factors, the state's Unemployment Insurance (UI) trust fund exhausted its reserves in 2009, requiring the state to take on loans to continue the payment of benefits to unemployed workers. In this series of four online posts, we (1) examine the current condition of the UI trust fund and how it may change in the near future, (2) provide context on who pays UI taxes and how much they pay, (3) assess the extent to which the UI trust fund is prepared for the next economic downturn, and (4) look at potential steps the Legislature could take should it wish to increase reserves in the trust fund as a means to address the fiscal impacts of the next economic downturn.
Post 1 updated to reflect estimates in the 2017-18 May Revision.
Post 1 updated to reflect estimates in the 2017-18 Governor's Budget.
March 23, 2020 - This post summarizes recent federal relief actions in the unemployment insurance program, discusses how these federal actions interact with current state programs, and highlight options the Legislature may want to pursue in responding to the ongoing crisis.
October 20, 2010 -
California's Unemployment Insurance (UI) program became insolvent in 2009, ending that year with a shortfall of $6.2 billion. Absent corrective action, the fund deficit is projected to increase to approximately $20 billion at the end of 2011. This report looks at the history of the UI program, compares California's program to those in other states, examines different scenarios for addressing the insolvency, and makes recommendations to the Legislature for solving this difficult problem.
October 13, 2011 - Since 2008, the cost of providing unemployment insurance (UI) benefits in many states has exceeded available resources. As a result, by 2010 the UI funds in 32 states were insolvent, forcing those states to obtain loans from the federal government to continue payment of UI benefits. In this report, we conduct a comparative analysis of the UI programs in all 50 states and Washington D.C. to provide context for the Legislature in considering potential solutions to California's UI insolvency. Our analysis finds that California’s UI program pays comparatively lower weekly benefits, but pays these weekly benefits for a longer duration and to a relatively larger caseload. As a result, California has comparatively higher total program costs. To the extent the Legislature desires, California’s comparatively high cost structure could be mitigated by changing its UI eligibility and benefits duration policies. However, regardless of UI policies, California’s UI program is likely to have a higher UI cost structure than the average U.S. state as a result of its comparatively worse labor market.
May 10, 2017 - Presented to: Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee
July 7, 2011 - Beginning in 2008, the Unemployment Insurance (UI) funds of many states, including California’s, were under stress and soon became insolvent. Many states sought loans from the federal government. As of June 2011, California’s outstanding federal loan totaled over $10 billion. Three federal proposals have recently been introduced to address the insolvency issue. All three would improve the solvency of California’s UI fund and two would likely eliminate California’s UI fund deficit by 2016. Regardless of whether Congress acts, we recommend that the Legislature ensure implementation of a long–term solvency plan by 2014. If federal reforms are enacted, it is likely that no additional action by the Legislature will be necessary. However, if no federal reforms are enacted, it will be critically important for the Legislature to adopt its own long–term solvency plan. We recommend that the Legislature consider an approach which includes both increased employer contributions and decreased benefits for UI claimants.
January 19, 2021 - In this brief we assess how coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has affected renters and homeowners. We also provide an updated estimate of the total unpaid rental debt in California that has accumulated due to COVID-19.
Correction 1/19/21: Legend on Figure 3 corrected to match data.
April 9, 2020 - The COVID-19 outbreak has pushed state unemployment to record highs. Alongside recent federal actions, the state may want to explore options to expand assistance to unemployed workers. Expanding assistance to unemployed workers could mitigate financial hardship for unemployed workers and, in some cases, provide statewide economic stimulus. In this post, we describe four options to expand unemployment benefits: (1) change state formulas to increase underlying benefit levels, (2) add state dollars on top of the federal $600 weekly add-on, (3) build a state-funded UI program for workers who currently are not eligible for benefits, and (4) temporarily allow ineligible workers to access State Disability Insurance benefits.