Thursday, March 6, 2014

Abandonment: Unemployment Benefits and the LongTerm Unemployed


Over four million Americans have been unemployed for 26 weeks or more. That’s a higher number than it was back in 2008, when Congress created the emergency program for the longterm unemployed. This is a striking fact that ought to make plain how critical the situation is for millions of Americans today.

Underscoring how bad things are is the fact that 6 million Americans have given up the job search and disappeared from the workforce all together. Many of those have returned to school, while a bulk of the frustrated job seekers have slipped into the “off the books” economy and into poverty. If you count all of these discouraged workers along with the officially unemployed and those who’re underemployed in jobs below their skill level, the unemployment rate almost doubles, from the official 7 percent to over 13 percent.

But these realities aren’t enough to sway key GOP leaders who are blocking the program. Sen. Rand Paul declared on Fox News Sunday just days ago that longterm unemployment insurance “does a disservice to those that you are trying to help.”

The key Republican argument hasn’t changed from the beginning of the crash: that longterm unemployment insurance encourages jobseekers to stay at home rather than pound the pavement. However, as The Economist points out, a recent paper by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco found that without unemployment insurance those looking for work would have found a job slightly earlier—a week, to be exact—but they would have had to endure four and a half months with no income support in the process of finding it.  READ MORE at Colorlines

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