Wednesday Open Line

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, 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 its first unemployment check in August in the amount of $15. By 2011, states and local governments took in almost $88 billion from the payroll tax to fund unemployment insurance. But they spent nearly $122 billion in such assistance. States have nearly $3 trillion in combined insurance trust funds, but an aggregate deficit of $18.5 billion for covering unemployment. Profile America is in its18th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.