As the Great Depression approached its worst, Wisconsin made the nation’s first governmental direct relief effort for the unemployed. On this date in 1932, it enacted unemployment insurance. Wisconsin was soon followed by a half-dozen other states before the Social Security Act in middecade moved all states to adopt such programs by 1937. Wisconsin’s program issued it’s first unemployment check in August, in the amount of $15. By 2010, states and local governments took in over $75 billion from the payroll tax to fund unemployment insurance. But they spent nearly $135 billion in such assistance, more than double the outlay of 2009. Profile America is in its 16th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.
Sunday, January 27th. “To teach, to serve, and to inquire into the nature of things.” That’s the motto of the University of Georgia, which on this date in 1785 became the young nation’s first state chartered university. Royally chartered private universities existed in America in colonial times, notably Harvard and William and Mary. The University of Georgia opened in 1801, after the similarly chartered University of North Carolina. Today, over 64 million people hold bachelor’s or higher degrees. People with bachelor’s degrees average around 76 percent more lifetime earnings than workers whose education stopped with a high school diploma. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau, online at <www.census.gov>.
Saturday, January 26th. On this date 30 years ago, the infant personal computer was empowered to become something much greater than a glorified word processor, with the release of the spreadsheet program Lotus 1-2-3. The popular program drew acclaim as the first “killer application.” Finance and accounting workers were thus freed from hunching over ledger books and switched to hunching before a computer screen. The name “1-2-3″ stemmed from the product’s integration of three main capabilities — spreadsheet, charting and graphing, and rudimentary database operations. Today there are over 8,200 packaged software development firms in the U.S., employing almost 390,000 people. You can find more facts about America’s people, places and economy from the American Community Survey at <www.census.gov>.