The Republicans have turned their sights (again) on unemployment benefits, wanting now to cut up to 40 weeks from the existing available federal unemployment benefits, despite the fact that there are roughly four unemployed people currently for every job vacancy.
In an excellent post on the NYT’s Economix blog, Simon Johnson writes why this would be poor economics. “If you strip even this money from people who remain out of work through no fault of their own, you will push more individuals and families onto the streets and into shelters. The cost of providing those fallback services is very high — and much higher than providing unemployment benefits.”
He has interesting and disturbing numbers on the long-term unemployed. “Typically in the United States, most people are unemployed for relatively short periods of time, with a lot of movement in and out of unemployment. The fraction of long-term unemployed as a percentage of all unemployed is usually 10 to 15 percent. In the early 1980s, it briefly reached almost 25 percent. Again, however, our experience since 2008 has been strikingly different — the share of long-term unemployed in total unemployed is close to 45 percent. And it appears to be staying at or near that level for the foreseeable future.”