Catherine Rampell at the New York Times writes: "Since June 2008, when Congress first created the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, nearly 18 million Americans have at some point received federally funded extended unemployment benefits." (federal extended benefits, not counting those who only received regular state benefits).
According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, currently only 3 million people now receive federal extended benefits (EUC). So where did 15 million-plus unemployed Americans go?
And how many more are there who quit jobs, were independent contractors, or new to the job market (or for other reasons) and didn't even qualify for unemployment benefits?
Now add to that 3.7 million who are currently receiving regular State benefits (up to 26 weeks). Last week it was reported by the labor department that we had 366,000 initial jobless claims, which is a measure of the number of new jobless claims filed by individuals seeking to receive State jobless benefits (mostly layoffs in the service industry, which is now our prime industry).
Many economists have argued that, besides being compassionate, unemployment benefits have stimulated the economy. That’s because people who receive jobless benefits go out and spend their checks very quickly after receiving them, and spending ripples through the rest of the economy.
Former White House adviser Jared Bernstein considers unemployment benefits to be one of the most efficient forms of economic stimulus in existence. Mark Zandi, an economic adviser for Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) 2008 presidential campaign, has estimated that each dollar spent on extending unemployment benefits generates $1.61 in economic growth. Meanwhile, according to an analysis from the National Employment Law Project (NELP), the Republicans' bill would result in $22 billion in lost economic growth and cost at least 140,000 jobs next year.
But some economists worry that longer periods for benefits may delay the job market recovery. By definition, jobless benefits make unemployment less uncomfortable, and so on the margins they may discourage idle Americans from going back to work if they have the option.
But according to a new study, extending unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless is not a major cause of the high U.S. unemployment rate. Read my Op-Ed piece: The Truth about Unemployment Benefits.
Benefits generally don’t cover more than half of a worker’s lost wages, and they’re capped at a maximum amount. In many states, the cap is quite low relative to the cost of living and local wages, so there is probably still a strong incentive for most unemployed workers to start earning higher wages again instead of receiving benefit checks.
A new White House report on jobless benefits shows average weekly unemployment benefits received per worker, the maximum weekly benefit granted in that state, and the share of a worker’s lost wages that jobless benefits cover. (click here for chart)
Another variable to bear in mind when thinking about how extended jobless benefits are interacting with unemployment rates is the employer side of the puzzle. After all, unemployment isn’t only about Americans’ work incentives; it’s also about employers’ willingness to hire.
In October, there were 3.3 million job openings, but 13.3 million unemployed workers, according to the Labor Department. That means that according the their own numbers, even if every single open job was filled with a willing worker, more than 10 million Americans would still be pounding the pavement.
But this blogger says there are many, many more...almost 27 million. And the Republicans infer they're all lazy (see my links below this article).
Over two years ago in October 2009 (at the
supposed "peak" of unemployment) the Bureau of Labor Statistics
reported that the national unemployment rate was at 10.2% with 15.7
million Americans out of work.
So we can safely assume that, even if every single person received the maximum of 99 weeks in unemployment benefits, they would have all expired two months ago...and 15.7 million jobs have not been created in the last 26 months.
Since October 2009, Obama says that according the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 3 million jobs were created. During the past 2 years (during that same period of time) 6 million Americans also graduated from high school and college.
15.7 million unemployed in October 2009 + 6 million graduates = 21.7 million MINUS 3 million NET jobs created = 18.7 million out of work. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 13.3 million.
I estimate there are another 8.4 million no longer even being counted because the Bureau of Labor Statistics claimed they stopped looking for work, based on a flawed CPS household survey. (Read my post: Simple Math Proves Jobs Report A Lie)
* Data reported on my links to the Bureau of Labor Statistics may be subject to change with their updates after this posting.