Monday, March 5, 2012

Unemployment Insurance Doesn't make Americans 'Dependent'

I'm among those who have been very fortunate throughout my life. I'm among those who have almost never been unemployed. All told, in the near 40 years of my work life, I've probably spent about a month unemployed - and that was spread out over maybe a three year period.

Times are different.

The recent passage of the extension of unemployment benefits for the long term unemployed not only dodged a political hot potato and can be seen as a victory for the current presidential administration, was simply the right thing to do. Of course there are those who, from the outset of the Great Recession, have argued that unemployment benefits make people 'dependent' and less inclined to look for work. Not so, says the Economic Policy Institute...

"Claims that unemployment insurance benefits dissuade the jobless from looking for work are untrue, as the accompanying chart shows. Research by Carl Van Horn and the Heldrich Center at Rutgers University shows that unemployed workers who receive unemployment compensation do more to find a job than those who never receive benefits. They do more online job searching, are more likely to look at newspaper classified ads, and are more likely to send email inquiries and applications to prospective employers."

While the jobs picture is improving, we have to remember that the unemployed don't simply just 'go away'. Eventually they actually do become 'dependent' at a much higher cost, if they aren't provided some support in looking for a job. And, according to EPI, those on UI actually are more prone to look for a job.

It means that the rest of us must think more rationally and more practically about public support - even while the jobs are created to make it unnecessary. Public support leads to a public benefit that is undeniable...

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