Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



The federal-state system of unemployment insurance in the United States is the result of a combination of influences. At its inception, it was influenced by experience with unemployment insurance abroad, by experience with voluntary plans already in existence in this country, by bills that had been introduced in state legislatures over a period of years, and by a number of studies that had been made by official commissions and students of the subject. Its structure was also considerably affected by the fact that those chiefly responsible for drawing up the original legislation had a background of experience in the administration of workmen's compensation, chiefly in New York and Wisconsin, and were imbued with a philosophy of states' rights. Its basic federal-state structure was partly the product of constitutional considerations. The limited nature of the benefits provided reflects the fact that the system was introduced during a period of very heavy unemployment, with the result that the possible costs of a system of unemployment insurance were overestimated.