Do unemployment benefits deter job seeking?

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This morning President Obama made a plea to the Senate to extend unemployment benefits to 3 million Americans who will stop receiving them this month. He said it’s the government’s responsibility “to offer emergency assistance to people who desperately need it … to help them make ends meet and support their families even as they’re looking for another job.”

With about five unemployed people per available job and 6.8 million who have been out of work for 27 weeks or more, this seems like a no-brainer at first glance. Proponents say this emergency relief can help the unemployed pay bills and put food on the table and also stimulate consumer spending. Yet many argue that extending unemployment benefits will deter people from looking for jobs and dig deeper into the nation’s deficit.

So which argument is right?

A March 2010 report from JPMorgan Chase argues that emergency unemployment benefits have contributed to longer durations of unemployment and a higher unemployment rate.

But in an April 2010 report from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, researchers Rob Valleta and Katherine Kuang wrote: “Analysis of unemployment data suggests that extended unemployment insurance benefits have not been important factors in the increase in the duration of unemployment or in the elevated unemployment rate.”

And this July, the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee released a report entitled “Does Unemployment Insurance Inhibit Job Search?” The report states “it is unlikely that extended unemployment benefits inhibit individuals’ job search efforts. Simply put, even a low‐paying job is likely to provide more support than that offered by [unemployment insurance].”

Still unsure? Are both sides right? Watch this clip from MSNBC’s Hardball to learn more:

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23 Comments
  1. I for one would welcome it because I have been unemployed for a month now, submitted app’s to over200 jobs, can’t collect a dime unemployment, and can’t find a job. give me anything at this point!!!!!!!

  2. Oh yeah, like I love getting 1/3rd of what I was making and living at near poverty level. So why should I look for a job. All my needs are met through food pantries, Good Will and the Salvation Army. Unemployment which is paid by the employer not the government, is just so lovely. Forget the fact that I’ve worked 25+ years and put into unemployment while working. Oh yeah, let me just scratch my balls and eat all the junk food I can from all those wonderfully healthy food pantries. Living below what I used to live just encourages me so much not to look for a job.
    Not, Not, Not!!!!
    I look, look, look and look. I interview, interview and interview. Just so many unemployed. Too few jobs and Too many applicants.
    So, sure allow me to just go over to the total edge of poverty and apply for welfare and medicaid which does come from the government and all will be happy, happy, happy.

  3. I welcome any assistance I’ve been unemployed since 10.08 n had 2 move n wit mii sister that was nt even workin only 1 person workin her boyfriend n I have 2 boys 6 n 3 n she have 2 girls 16 n 11 n we livin n a 2 bedroom I lost mii car house n furniture dat was in storage but I contiued 2 look 4 work when I drew unemployment because that was my gas so I could go look 4 work but nw I have 2 depend on others that r nt guarateed n I’ve never been n a situation so bad im stressin nt eatin high blood pressure jus tha other day I thought bout suicide REALLY datz hw bad it is n im only 29 n neva been out of work til now n been working since I was 15 MUCH needed HELP

  4. N I’m still seeking work even though I have 2 walk 2 jobs n 2 the unemployment office n don’t know how my phone bill is going 2 get paid so a job can call so u tell me Henderson,North Carolina needs more jobs also everywhere else Money make the world go round

  5. Are you serious???? I have always worked except first two years of college. I have always provided for my self and others. Now I have my own family, twin girls 8 months old, and i cant provide for them. You really think that I want to sit at home and not give them at least the basic things they need such as pampers. How about we come and stay with you and you support us since you are the one with a house, cars, job, and finance to support everybody, so I won’t end up on welfare and then you talk no nonsense about me.

  6. People like me are living in poverty it’s a big adjustment losing you job, yes the extended benefits will help a little but it doesn’t even cover the basic. I can barely keep a roof over my family head; I have been looking faithfully for employment and am willing to take anything at this point since I lost my job three months ago. Taking the very little benefits I do get from unemployment will truly keep my family from having shelter and food on our plates.

  7. I have heard this misconception before that unemployment benefits somehow deter people from finding jobs. The money from unemployment is barely enough to get by on let alone to sustain a normal life. The fact is that there just aren’t enough jobs out there right now but you still have to pay your bills and eat and that is about all you can do on unemployment

  8. It is simply NOT TRUE!!!!! I work on finding a job from morning ’till evening every day, 7 days a week!!! NO WEEKENDS for me!!! NO ENJOYING THE SUMMER!!! NO FUN IN THE SUN!!!!! Unemployment allows me to keep looking and keep a roof over my head and food on the table. It’s LUDICROUS for any entity to say it keeps people from looking. LUDICROUS and highly IGNORANT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It makes me angry to keep hearing this crap. It’s total BS!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. I am a military retiree, you think you have problems, all the vets that rely on there retirement and this year no pay increase(lost $50 a month to proposed increase tax hike and our great leader uses the excuse there is no inflation. I watch the prices on many items at the base food stores go up everyday not just a couple of percent points but 20 to 50% on items. every company out there needs to make a profit.

  10. Are you kidding me? That’s their argument that these “benefits” which are not even paid for by the govt deter me from finding a job? I have found plenty of jobs, that is, applied for and interviewed – BUT, nothing. I lost my car, apartment, have had to move back home, exhausted benefits, eating habits are at the worst which only increases more statistics to the overweight govt claims & have to depend on others to survive??? I’m 33 an I’ve web on my own since I was 19. Trust, asking for and /or geting assistance is shameful as I’m a healthy hard working individual. But, no doors open. It’s come to the point that even when I’ve appplied for what some would consider “burger flipping” job, they won’t even hire me due to no experience in that field. Sad! We’re not asking for a “free ticket” as unemployment is not by any means a check to live off and feed your family. But, it’s assistance I, as many millions of Americans need to at least survive. There is no luxury of being on unemployment, & those that see differently have obviously never been in this situation.

  11. It shows how much people hate their jobs, they turn their hatred of their current job into a rant about how the unemployed are lazy. They would feel better knowing you went from a skilled position as a manager to a clerk or gas station attendant and only then would they feel better being able to sneer at your desperation, I can sense that from people I know.
    I’m sure going from a Director or VP level position to a “burger flipping” job would win the utmost admiration during the next interview.

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  13. I know it’s ridiculous, If the people that are unemployed now were really lazy and were trying to not work they wouldn’t even be on ump. because they would have been milking welfare for years, long before this. And oh yeah, people just don’t look for jobs knowing that ump. benefits could be gone any day considering the crap they put people through debating the last two extensions. For about 6 months no one knew if they were even going to get another extension due to cut off dates. And what about all the people who exhausted euc benefits and are waiting for tier 5, they aren’t getting anything and still can’t find a job. Can’t these idiots read the stats that say there are way more applicants per job opening. What really makes me mad is the comments from “employed” people (on other websites) saying all this same crap like suck it up, or get off your butt. Maybe this is wrong but I really hope those people lose their jobs and get NOTHING, and when they’re working harder at finding a job then they would be even going to work hopefully they will FINALLY get it. And its those same people that say about how much debt the dems have added recently, at least they are trying to clean up this mess. The repub. Is where most of this debt came from and for nothing this important. Here’s and idea (for the employed that make those comments), if you think it’s so easy to find another job, then quit yours and give it to an unemployed person. After all its so easy to find a job, you should be able to find another one or “find a way to do something, anything”, RIGHT??

  14. I recently saw a company executive crow about people not applying for jobs at his company. I know someone who worked for the company, as a director he made over 100K and was able to save the company by managing production and sourcing while also coordinating and negotiating shipments. The open position that was not being filled was for a part-time window demonstrator. I’m pretty sure the person I know didn’t apply for the part-time window demonstrator position.

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  16. My best friend decided to keeping getting her 1/3rd salary for the next two years as well as being a stay at home Mom and saving her family money that way. The benefits are too great an opportunity NOT to work.

    My husband has two friends unemployed. One decided to start a business and continue to collect unemployment. His business income will all be paid to his wife.

    The other friend could have taken a full time job, but it was only $120 more per week for 40 hours of work. He decided not to work for an extra $3 per hour. If not for unemployment benefits he would have taken the job.

    • I’m on unemployment and I love it! In fact, 7 fellow co-workers are all doing the same. I make more than enough, plus I live with my parents, that helps. I will NOT look for a job while getting free money. Lots of partying, and sleeping late. Almost feels like winning the lottery. Just awesome. I make close to 500 a week, I have NO high school diploma, why would I want to work 40+ hours a week, even if I made 100 dollars more, which now seems unlikely, when I can collect free money? enjoy unemployment, just adapt, and make changes. its free money.

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