How much do unemployment benefits cost you? Less than $1.00 per day

This is now a recent conversation on Twitter ended:

And that got me wondering: how much does unemployment insurance cost the average taxpayer?

In general, the answer is zero: UI benefits are funded on a state by state level, through taxes paid by employers, not by individuals. But as a result of the Great Recession, the Federal goverment has had to fund the state programs. At the end of 2011, CNN reported that taxpayers spent $184.7 billion for the years 2008-2011.

Next question? How many taxpayers have there been over the same four years? Based on the 2012 Statistical Abstract from the Census Bureau, there were a total of 554 million Federal tax returns filed for the tax years 2007-2010, which are the latest numbers available. It's not an exact year-for-year match, but it'll be close enough for this estimate.

So: $184.7 billion in Federally-funded UI benefits, paid for by 554 million filers. That works out to roughly $333 per tax return, or, even more roughly, less than a buck a day. That's how much it costs you to help your neighbor, friend or family member find a job.


  1. kathie how can you pay everyboby way when you don't have anything yourself


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