Rep. John Linder: Unemployment Benefits Keep People From Looking For Work
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Rep. John Linder: Unemployment Benefits Keep People From Looking For Work

Washington : DC : USA | Jun 11, 2010 at 10:37 PM PDT
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Memphis Unemployment Benefits Cut Off

Representative John Linder (R-Georgia) suggested on Thursday that extended unemployment benefits keep people from looking for work.

After complaining that the Dems’ stimulus bill has been unable to keep unemployment from hitting double digits, he said “And even when businesses are willing to hire, nearly two years of unemployment benefits are too much of an allure for some. The evidence is mounting that so-called stimulus policies rammed through Congress are doing more harm than good.”

He cited a May 10 story from The Detroit News about landscaping businesses complaining that potential employees turned down job offers in favor of collecting unemployment benefits. The stimulus and several subsequent bills have provided laid-off employees with up to 99 weeks of unemployment benefits in some states, including Michigan. The average weekly benefit is $320.

Linder is the highest-ranking GOPer on the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support, which held a hearing on Thursday to address long-term unemployment. Committee chairman Representative Jim McDermott (D-Washington) called for testimony from four economists who were unanimous that the extended unemployment benefits are essential and don’t increase the unemployment rate.

Michael Reich, an economics professor from the University of California, Berkeley, pointed out that there are now five jobhunters for every available job. “Exits from unemployment to employment become less likely the longer the duration of unemployment, largely because employers generally choose to hire new labor force entrants or unemployed workers with short unemployment spells over those with longer spells,” he said.

Jason Taylor, an economics professor from Central Michigan University, agreed with Linder. “There can be no doubt that incentives to obtain new employment have been, and will continue to be, tempered by governmental action, which has extended unemployment insurance to many through the end of 2010.”

Taylor told the Huffington Post that he hadn’t seen the April report by the San Francisco Federal Reserve, which found that “extended unemployment insurance benefits have not been important factors in the increase in the duration of unemployment or in the elevated unemployment rate.”

In recent weeks, GOPers and conservative Dems have held up attempts to reauthorize extended benefits due to their impact on the federal budget deficit, which is expected to exceed $1.5 trillion this year. Consequently, unemployment benefits and several other domestic aid programs, including funds for Medicaid and subsidies for laid-off employees to buy health insurance, have expired while the Senate dithers over the bill. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of people won’t receive the checks that they had been expecting.

The idea that unemployment benefits keep people from accepting job offers has been a constant undercurrent. Senator Judd Gregg (R-New Hampshire) said the same thing last month. Senator Jon Kyl (R-Arizona) said it in March. Last month, Representative Jason Altmire (D-Pennsylvania) said that businesses in his district complained that potential employees refused job offers in favor of remaining on unemployment benefits (though he declined to name the businesses).

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Stephanie Sklar is based in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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