No, Cutting Off Unemployment Insurance Doesn’t Make Those Bums Go To Work

It’s now been close to five months since Congress failed to extend long-term unemployment insurance thanks to Republican opposition. I’m sure you remember some of the arguments made about why an extension wasn’t necessary or might even be counterproductive. At FiveThirtyEight, Ben Casselman reviews those arguments in light of subsequent evidence, and finds them rather notably weak:

The case against extending unemployment benefits essentially boils down to two arguments. First, the economy has improved, so the unemployed should no longer need extra time to find a new job. Second, extended benefits could lead job seekers either to not search as hard or to become choosier about the kind of job they will accept, ultimately delaying their return to the workforce.

But the evidence doesn’t support either of those arguments. The economy has indeed improved, but not for the long-term unemployed, whose odds of finding a job are barely higher today than when the recession ended nearly five years ago. And the end of extended benefits hasn’t spurred the unemployed back to work; if anything, it has pushed them out of the labor force altogether.

There is, of course, a third argument, though it’s one conservatives are less likely to articulate in public: To hell with you losers. It’s not my problem.

[Warning: video ahead has a fair amount of profanity, highly appropriate to the song’s sentiments, though]

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.