5 Myths About Unemployment

Yesterday President Obama signed into law HR 4213, the Unemployment Extension Bill, after a hard fought battle of how it would be financed .

This law would “extend extend the filing deadline for existing tiers of unemployment benefits until November 30, 2010 and extend for three month the closing deadline for first-time homebuyers looking to get the $8,000 tax credit.” It is, however, a hollow victory as this law does not create an additional tier of benefit for “99ers” – those who have already exhausted all of their UI benefits.

No matter how you slice it, the unemployment rate is at 9.5% with the majority of people remaining on UI for longer periods of time (myself included) despite their fervent job search. Despite these numbers, however, several politicians still think that those on UI are “unmotivated

Ron Johnson, a candidate in the Wisconsin Senate race, had this to say:

When you continue to extend unemployment benefits, people really don’t have the incentive to go take other jobs. They’ll just wait the system out until their benefits run out, then they’ll go out and take, probably not as high paying jobs as they’d like to take, but that’s really how you have to get back to work. You have to take the work that’s available at the wage rates that’s available.

And Senator Burr, R-North Carolina:

Thankfully, Heidi Shierholz of The Washington Post penned a great article, 5 Myths About Unemployment, refuting such (unfair) opinions about the Unemployed.

Today, however, unemployment insurance isn’t providing breathing room — it’s providing a lifeline. There are now roughly five unemployed workers for every available job. That doesn’t mean there are five applicants for every job opening; there may be scores of applications for every posting, as people apply for many jobs. Instead, it means there literally aren’t jobs for four out of every five unemployed workers. This is why nearly half of the unemployed have been out of work for more than six months, the maximum duration of state unemployment benefits.

In this environment, allowing extended unemployment benefits to expire would indeed make workers who have exhausted their aid more desperate to find work. But it wouldn’t make them more likely to find work, because the jobs don’t exist.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

UPDATE: I just came across this video of Sharron Angle, Republican Candidate for Senate (Nevada – Harry Reid’s state), who, prior to the passage of HR 4213 into law, stated that the unemployed are “afraid to get a job” are “entitled” and are “making more money on unemployment than they are getting one of those jobs”.

Well, at least she didn’t suggest that the unemployed be required to be drug tested before getting their UI checks, compare providing UI benefits to feeding stray animals or call the unemployed “hobos“.