Tuesday, July 20, 2010

99 is Quite All Right: extending unemployment benefits

The Senate is looking like it will extend unemployment insurance payments to 99 weeks (link). As the chart below from Greg Mankiw's blog shows the median time people have been unemployed is nearly twice as long as anytime since 1965 (link). I do think in some circumstances giving people unemployment insurance payments decreases the chances they will get a new job. In fact just a week ago I had an unemployed person tell me they didn't take a job because it didn't pay enough compared to unemployment insurance.

However, given the high unemployment rate and length of people's job search extending benefits seems to make sense. It also is a reasonably good economic stimulus, since people receiving unemployment checks are unlikely to save much of it.

In terms of the budget, unemployment insurance payments will go down when (if?) the economy recovers. I also think congress has a better record of pulling back long term unemployment benefits, then tax breaks or other spending.

So that's why I think 99 is quite allright.

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