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Monday, April 30, 2012

Wanting Non-Existent Jobs

Nancy Folbre says the evidence does not support the contention that people aren't trying very hard to find jobs "because they would prefer to live off unemployment insurance or other social benefits" (I wonder if the editors at Economix will ever tire of having their economics correspondents waste valuable space explaining why another correspondent, Casey Mulligan, is wrong):

Not Wanting Jobs, by Nancy Folbre, Commentary, NY Times: A significant number of American voters seem to believe that the unemployed don’t really want jobs because they would prefer to live off unemployment insurance or other social benefits. ...
Many such voters are also drawn to a particular austerity strategy my fellow Economix blogger Casey B. Mulligan laid out last week: cutting taxes for high earners and cutting subsidies for low earners. This strategy makes perfect sense if you believe that most people who are struggling to pay their bills aren’t trying hard enough.
This argument appeals for several reasons. It absolves believers of any responsibility for other people’s hardships. It lends credence to the assertion that the labor market would work just fine if it weren’t jammed up by a social safety net. It lays the blame for persistent unemployment squarely on President Obama...
But the ... social safety net is not a hammock that workers can luxuriate in. In a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted last fall, two-thirds of those receiving benefits said they were not enough to pay for basics like housing and food. Another poll conducted by National Public Radio and the Kaiser Family Foundation ... found that only 22 percent of the long-term unemployed were receiving unemployment benefits.
One widely cited study published by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco ... found that extended unemployment benefits could not account for more than eight-tenths of one percentage point of the increased unemployment rate in the later years.
A paper by Jesse Rothstein ... of ... the University of California, Berkeley, asserts that extensions of unemployment insurance added at most two-tenths to six-tenths of a percentage point to the unemployment rate. ...
The unemployed want jobs badly enough. But many Americans don’t seem to care much about helping them get some. ...

I find this argument -- blaming the unemployed and the meager help they get for the unemployment problem -- really annoying (insert shrill comment).

    Posted by on Monday, April 30, 2012 at 07:01 AM in Economics, Social Insurance, Unemployment | Permalink  Comments (39)


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