Unemployment insurance, type of Social Security providing income to people involuntarily unemployed. Most modern industrial nations have programs of this kind, financed by the governmnent, employers, employees, or a combination of these. In the 1800s some labor unions initiated unemployment benefits for out-of-work members. France introduced a voluntary national scheme in 1905, and Britain introduced the first compulsory insurance program in 1911. In the United States the first unemployment insurance law was passed in Wisconsin in 1932; three years later the Social Security Act established a federal-state program, now administered by the Department of Labor.
See also: Welfare.