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While the U.S. economy is flashing signs of a potential economic downturn in the future, West Virginia’s unemployment insurance system is in a precarious situation that needs immediate attention. Unemployment insurance (UI) is more than just a lifeline to people who find themselves involuntarily unemployed. UI is also an economic stabilizer during larger economic downturns, giving workers money to spend in the local economy. There are two ways that states can be prepared for a downturn: One is by having sufficient funds in the UI trust fund, and the other is by making sure that sufficient benefits are available to enough workers to maintain spending power. West Virginia’s system is in the bottom tier of states in terms of trust fund solvency but has reasonable benefits that are largely in line with its neighbors and the nation. Benefits could be improved to ensure that workers have spending power in a recession and that employers continue to have access to a well-trained workforce.

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