How the Employment Security Commission Works

By: Linda C. Brinson

What is the Employment Security Commission?

The Employment Security Commission is essentially a joint effort between federal and state governments. Employment Security Commissions date back to the days of the Great Depression, when Franklin D. Roosevelt was president of the United States. One of the many things the federal Social Security Act of 1935 did was to set up a social insurance program to help people the unemployed get by until they find new jobs. The idea was to give people enough money so they could survive, keep their families going and spend time looking for another job. The program isn't designed to give people as much money as they had been earning, nor does it enable them to maintain the standard of living they had when employed. It also has time limits; unemployment insurance is a temporary stopgap, not a welfare program.

Under the 1935 act, the federal government began collecting a payroll tax on employers. States were encouraged to set up their own programs following broad guidelines, and eventually all of them did. States also tax employers, using a formula based on how many successful unemployment claims are filed against each employer. Employers who participate in an approved state plan are able to get a credit to offset most of their federal payroll tax [source: Hogler]


Working within certain federal guidelines, each state runs its own version of an Employment Security Commission. Some things are pretty standard, such as the basic 26 weeks of unemployment benefits for eligible people. Others -- including the agency's name, the title of its top official, and whether that official is appointed by the governor or chosen some other way -- will vary from state to state. Extra benefits and services may also vary between states.

Every state's Employment Security Commission shares the same goal, going back to the 1935 law: helping to find jobs for anyone willing and able to work. The cash paid to unemployed people is important, but it's far from the only benefit these agencies offer.

Keep reading to learn more about what the Employment Security Commission can do.