Recession Remedies: Lessons Learned from Expanded Unemployment Insurance during COVID-19

The COVID-19 recession was born out of a public health threat. Thus, unemployment insurance (UI) was meant to insure people against income losses associated not just with involuntary job loss, as in a usual recession, but also with the choice not to work due to the public health risk. Job losses were dramatic and concentrated in lower-paid in-person service sectors such as restaurants, leisure and hospitality, and retail. UI was just one of a variety of policies which provided direct assistance to house-holds, including three rounds of Economic Impact Payments, debt forbearance, advance payment of the Child Tax Credit, and rent relief.