Among the many spending cuts and tax increases legislated to take effect at the turn of the year, few policies have as direct an effect on those most affected by the Great Recession than the expiration of extended unemployment insurance (UI) benefits. In the first week of January, roughly two million individuals will lose extended benefits with the expiration of legislation that temporarily increased the duration individuals can claim UI. Although these benefits make up only $30 billion of the roughly $500 billion ‘fiscal cliff,’ they have a disproportionate effect on the lives of the unemployed and their families, as well as on the aggregate economy.
Whether to extend unemployment benefits—a decision currently tied up in the greater debate around the federal budget—should be motivated by consideration of the benefits and costs of the program. Advocates of an extension of UI benefits point to the fact that these benefits accrue to unemployed workers and their families and help put food on the table and pay the rent at a time of extraordinary economic weakness; in doing so, these benefits also boost the economy as a whole as UI recipients maintain consumption. Skeptics of an extension point to potential costs arising because beneficiaries may spend less time and effort searching for work, and the impact of funding the extension on the deficit.
The evidence continues to suggest that extended benefits provide a sizable boost for workers and the economy, but have little negative effect on work incentives and unemployment.
The chart below shows the likelihood of finding a job as measured in the monthly Current Population Survey data. The chart shows the probability of leaving unemployment for employment in each month. These rates are simply at exceptionally low levels. The odds that an unemployed worker found a job each month fell from 28 percent in 2007 to an average of 16 percent during the last three months of 2009. This year, the job finding rate is still 30 percent lower than the average from 1990-2007.
Why is the job-finding rate so low? The basic reason is that job openings remain depressed and there are a lot of unemployed workers competing for those jobs. The job opening rate fell more than 40 percent between 2007 and 2009 and is still almost 20 percent lower than that level now. As a result, the number of unemployed workers per job vacancy surged, as the next chart illustrates.
Choosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor from
The unemployment insurance (UI) system is a partnership between the federal government and state governments that provides a temporary weekly benefit to qualified workers who lose their job and are seeking work. The amount of that benefit is based in part on a worker’s past earnings. CBO estimates that UI benefits totaled $94 billion in … Continue reading »
Fiscal Cliff / Unemployment Benefits will abruptly end for 2 million in dec., and nearly one million more in the first quarter of 2013
Because over five million workers will be unable to collect federal UI benefits next year if Congress fails to act, NELP is calling upon Congress to make this issue a priority during the lame-duck session of the 112th Congress. Not only should Congress reauthorize the EUC program in its current form for the next year, it … Continue reading »
Congress last lengthened the deadline to file for benefits in February, but lawmakers also restructured the program at the time. The maximum number of weeks the jobless can collect unemployment benefits was reduced to 73 weeks. And in all states save New York, the jobless are no longer eligible for a separate federal extended benefits … Continue reading »
U.S. Taxes Rates | Wealthiest pay 40% less than 50 years ago while middle class pay roughly the same
Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney of The Hamilton Project – Brookings Institute examine the progressivity of the U.S. tax code and highlight two facts: the current U.S. tax system is less progressive than the tax systems of other industrialized countries, and considerably less progressive today than it was just a few decades ago. The figure below shows how much …Continue reading »
The federal budget crisis in Washington known as the “fiscal cliff” has an estimated 400,000 long-term jobless Californians on the edge. A 41/2 -year-old program of emergency federal jobless assistance, which provides many of the state’s unemployed up to $450 a week in benefits, is scheduled to expire Dec. 29 — unless Congress and President … Continue reading »
Substantial changes to tax and spending policies are scheduled to take effect in January 2013, significantly reducing the federal budget deficit. According to CBO’s projections, if all of that fiscal tightening occurs, real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) will drop by 0.5 percent in 2013 (as measured by the change from the fourth quarter of … Continue reading »
Fiscal policy, at both the federal and state and local levels: headwinds for unemployment reduction says Bernanke
The accommodative monetary policies I have reviewed today, both traditional and nontraditional, have provided important support to the economic recovery while helping to maintain price stability… Notwithstanding these positive signs, the economic situation is obviously far from satisfactory… Further, the rate of improvement in the labor market has been painfully slow. I have noted on …Continue reading »
Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Dennis Lockhart said forceful central bank policies will remain needed to spur job growth even if Congress averts sudden tax increases and spending cuts at the end of the year. “I expect that continued aggressive use of balance sheet monetary tools will be appropriate and justified by economic conditions … Continue reading »