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Your Take: Should Unemployment Benefits Be Extended Again?

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Umbrella on a Rainy DayEarlier this week CNN Money posted a story that pegged the bill for unemployment benefits at around $319 billion over the last three years. In those three years, the length of benefits has steadily increased to the now 99 weeks of unemployment benefits. Ninety-nine weeks is nearly two full years of unemployment benefits. On November 30th, approximately two million unemployed individuals will lose coverage because they’ve been on unemployment benefits for so long. The total number of people collecting unemployment insurance is 8.5 million, which includes 4.8 million on federal benefits.

On the one hand, giving unemployment benefits is probably one of the most effective ways to stimulate the economy. I think it’s safe to say that those on unemployment and collecting insurance will probably be spending that money, which goes right back into the economy. Unlike other methods of stimulus, very few are saving this cash for a rainy day because it is a rainy day.

As an aside, to all those folks screaming at the bank rescue bailouts and car manufacturer bailouts and wondering where their bailout is… this is it. 99 weeks of unemployment insurance is that bailout.

On the other hand, 99 weeks is a very long time and I’m stunned by the number of people who have been unemployed for so long. You have to throw all your assumptions out the window because two million is a lot of people and many, if not all of them, have to be hurting to be out of work that long. You can’t assume they’re lazy and happy collecting insurance for 99 weeks. You can’t assume they’re picky job seekers and passed on jobs in the last 99 weeks. You just have to take it at face value and understand that it’s just been impossible for them to find a job. Sure, you’ll have a few people who are too picky or happy cashing the checks for 99 weeks but I’d put on my compassion hat and say the rest are truly having a difficult time (unemployment insurance isn’t exactly a windfall either).

Another aside, it turns out that in the time I wrote this (Wednesday) and when this will post (Friday), the House failed to pass a bill that would have extended benefits.

What do you think?

(Photo: yourdon)

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300 Responses to “Your Take: Should Unemployment Benefits Be Extended Again?”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I’m not an American, so my comments may not fit what happenes. In my country, no unemployment benefits but when one falls on hard times, there’s a host of government agencies, or quasi-government institutions that will step in to evaulate a situation, cushion the fall by directing one to where work can be rendered.I think unemployment benefits help, together with help from authorities to generate oppportunities for growth and income.

  2. ann says:

    Yes. The housing market will plummet further if not.

  3. Christine says:

    After being an employee of a county welfare intake office, I can tell you that if unemployment isn’t extended, those out of work with children will end up on TANF cash assistance (welfare) and those without children will end up on food stamps at the very least and may end up homeless, so take your pick as to where the pay out is. Whether it is welfare, food stamps, or unemployment the huge increase in cases is keeping me employed. In fact, these offices are hiring extra people to help process all the cases.

  4. Lisa Lewis says:

    I would like to say to the people who think unemployment should not be extened should just SHUT UP! I live in Ohio and there are no jobs to be found. My husband has worked for many years and his company closed in July of 2009. He has applied at different job agencies and has not been called yet. He has also put in applications and nothing. He is not lazy. Our government needs to stop sending money overseas and start using that money to help their own people. This is suppose to be america what a joke it has become. All our jobs are shipped overseas for less money to make the product. Now the jobs in America are toast. Our government is a JOKE!!. Let’s see the senators and congress live paycheck to paycheck or wonder how food was going to be put on the table. They would not make it.

  5. Davidtoc says:

    Hi, I was unemployed for 18 months and finally landed myself a job. How? I slashed my resume by 75 % and started getting interviews and finally got hired. No one at work knows how much experience I have and I just follow instructions. It’s really hard at times, but it’s better than being unemployed. I don’t believe those stupid government unemployment datas for a minute—-they don’t count those who have exhausted the unemployment benefits. According to BBC, the real figure is in the 20′s and yet the stock market keep going higher and higher everyday, go figured.
    Hope my little tip can help someone find a job. Good luck!

  6. free2biz says:

    There seems to be a disconnect from how unemployment benefits work. Each of our paychecks are taxed for unemployment (FUTA/SUTA) and it acts as a pre-paid insurance policy. The payout is based exclusively on what you’ve paid in.

    Let me add, there is typically a surplus due to the twisted perception that this is truly a government handout. Your “benefits” payout is based upon the last two years, regardless if you’ve been paying in for twenty and never collected before. Hence, it is not accumulative and begs the question of where those funds go.

    The term “benefits” is a gross misnomer and suggests that when you use insurance that you paid for that you are some kind of leech.

    When we discuss “extended” unemployment benefits, we are for the first time discussing dipping into the public coffers for the individual. Otherwise, the subject is moot … we don’t want to pay unemployment “benefits,” we shouldn’t deduct the premiums from the individual’s paycheck.

    So, this doesn’t need to be a highly charged emotional issue. Unless we’re talking about extended benefits … there is nothing to discuss. Based upon the way the “benefits” are calculated, you most likely have paid for the “extended benefits” too, through twenty years of FUTA/SUTA deductions.

  7. Vincent says:

    I see that my comment was not published.

    Must have gone against the grain.

    • Jim says:

      The first comment anyone ever makes automatically goes into moderation, it’s to prevent spam. It was published (as you can see).

  8. Grant says:

    I think an extension of unemployment benefits is probably the best solution for time being. This is by no means a permanent fix and should be contingent on the unemployment rate. Given that the unemployment rate is so high, that means a significant amount of Americans are going through very difficult times financially. While the unemployment rate may be at around 10%, the real unemployment rate is probably more in the range of 15 – 20% given the actual definition of unemployed workers excludes many Americans. Given that government in general is inefficient with these social programs I do think an overhaul or at least tweaking would be beneficial. Given that I’ve never been unemployed in my 3 years of being in the workforce, my opinion may be skewed. Since the benefits serve as temporary income, I think the unemployed should be required to provide a service while on unemployment aid. For example, I believe there should be a set period where the unemployed receives benefits and is free to search for a job. After this period, say 12 weeks, the unemployed is required to put in “X” hours per week of community service. Say 8 hours is chosen. I believe the unemployed would be able to still search for jobs aside from their small service to benefit their community. This way they stay engaged in the community and benefit it even while out of the workforce. Not to mention this could be beneficial to developing skills and certainly serve as motivation to the unemployed. If you didn’t put in the necessary time you would lose your benefits. I think this time requirement should scale up over time as well from 1 days to 3 days. This helps temper the problem of people being lazy and not doing their part to find a job and it would certainly reduce the people who are cherry picking their job offers since the community service may not be the most enjoyable activity (i.e. picking up trash in parks). On that note as well, if people get a job offer, it should be entered into a national system. If an individual turns it down then they should lose their benefits. I believe people should be afforded an adequate amount of time to find a job that fits their liking and pays them what is fair in the market, but some people refuse to recognize that their prior salary might be well above what the market price is today and have to accept a lower salary. Just a few ideas to help improve the system that seems it would produce an overall better output for society…Thoughts or counterargument appreciated

  9. Scott says:

    I’m a little late to the comments on this one, but here’s a few of my thoughts.

    I do know a couple who honestly need it and are looking, but I also know some who are “tired of working” and have been doing work under the table or making jewelry & selling it. This is fraud, no other way to put it. I’m not judge & jury, so I stay out of their business. Only here them talk & act on their situations. I’m not in their shoes, but I personally do everything above board on taxes & such.

    I’ve also seen a report that in a European country (sorry I do not have all the details), that shortened the UE bene’s because they noticed a spike in jobs taken in the last part of the 4 year program. They shortened it to 3 years and saw the same; 2 years is their limit now and they implied that the bulk of benefactors got employment at the end of the periods. I personally “think” this is happening more than most want to admit.

    If I made $300-500 weekly, I could learn / adjust to live on this (my wife would shoot me, though) so I think many can live on this amount if they truly want to (possibly subsidize with some under-the-table income).

    I’m a compassionate one for those who truly deserve it, I’m just skeptical of people when it comes to $$ these days. Strange things happen when you inject $$ into any equasion.

  10. John says:

    If there is no extension for UE Benefits in this depression the USA is in….We should all march on Washington, DC to show we will not be pushed into poverty by our Goverment leaders !

    • Nobody says:

      Go ahead and march, it won’t make a difference. And the government IS NOT pushing you into poverty.

  11. Anonymous says:

    The REAL Americans will eventually put their fists into the mouth of these GREEDY and DECEIPTFUL Pieces of trash called the repuvlican party and their chicken hawk cowardly hell riden ghastly followers whom call themselves human beings. They are the ones that will be cast into that lake of eternal fire. They are the creators and shall be the ones to make end of this terrible mess. Yes they created this mess and should pay for it at ANY cost that we REAL Americans see fit! Suck it you REpublicans, you dont deserve SH*T!!!!!!!!!!

    • Scott says:

      Jim,
      The above is really not called for. Why do you even allow this kind of trash from an “Anonymous” person, non the less?

      I’m disappointed as I can get this garbage on Yahoo finance all day long…if I still went there.

  12. Carole says:

    It shames me how fellow Americans turn on each other instead of offering kindness to those less fortunate. Do you know how much our government spends on the war? Do you know how much our government spends on disasters in other countries? Earthquake-hey here’s 30 million! Flooding-Here’s 10 million with a pledge to rebuild your country! This goes on and on. How much do we spend on our space program? How much do we spend on wasteful projects that go nowhere? Our high unemployment rate and it is MUCH higher than 10% because that rate only marks those still receiving unemployment benefits is caused by our government! It is not by choice that Americans have lost their jobs! For Gods sakes look at the poor people in Michigan who’s manufacturing plants have all been moved overseas! This is all part of NAFTA. We did not have this huge problem before then. This is the US and the World Bank (owned by US) and the top companies getting richer and richer and richer beyond our immaginations. It is done by selling out our country and sending our jobs overseas. Then our government and obviously our people turn against those who have lost their jobs? Shame Americans Shame on you.

  13. Struggling says:

    Yes, they should be extended. Many of us never dreamed we’d be in this position. I did everything right – bachelor’s, now finishing master’s, over 25 years in my field but the last one in the door and the first one out when times got tough for my employer. I’m a hard worker who has worked constantly since I was 16, I’ve never been in trouble with the law and I volunteer in my community. I don’t make money under the table. I’ve never been laid off before or claimed unemployment insurance but now I find myself in a positon of needing it. Many are in the same boat and need help. Sure, there have been 99 weeks of unemployment, but not everyone has gotten 99 weeks. Some of us were laid off early this year and can’t find a job. I spend hours and hours on applications each week and generally get no reply. The economy won’t be helped by abandoning the unemployed. Continue unemployment so we too can pay our bills.

    • govenar says:

      If you worked for over 25 years with a bachelor’s degree, you should have enough money saved up to cover living expenses while you look for a job.

      I don’t think unemployment benefits should be extended again. Or they should have stricter requirements for people who receive unemployment benefits; e.g., require that people take college classes in fields where there’s shortages, like nursing. Or start more public works projects like building highways, that could employ unemployed people (I thought Obama was planning to do this? But I haven’t heard much about it.)

  14. Brenda lauw says:

    I have taught school for 30 years. I have won too many awards and grants to list. I moved to a new state and cannor pass a background check. 30 years ago i got a dui. Nothing since ever. I do not have a masters yet i have 5 certifications. A school district can hire two new teachers for the same salary as me. I have completed many job apps and never called for an interview.y unemployment benefits is not based on 30 years of teaching but on the part-time work I have done in the last two years. And as low as that is, it runs out after only 20 weeks. If i look for part time work and get laid off again, my benefits will go even lower. I am one check away from being homeless. There is something wrong with the system. There is something wrong in America.

    • Nobody says:

      That’s exactly why you don’t have a job teaching, you think you deserve twice the going rate for teachers.

      I don’t think a DUI 30 years ago is going to hurt your chances of employment, you wanting twice the going rate of teachers WILL hurt you chances for employment.

      There’s nothing wrong with the system or America, there’s something wrong with how you think.

  15. cathy says:

    yes they should!!

  16. Seasongs says:

    If unemployment is curbed, folks without jobs will apply for welfare. I know of a particular individual who has tried for over a year to get a job. She is over 50, so it is more difficult to be hired.

    • Nobody says:

      Applying for welfare and actually getting welfare are two different things. At most any single or married people without kids will get is food stamps.

  17. Sharon says:

    I have been unemployed since November 2008, when my 24.00 per hour job was outsourced to people in Bangalore. We trained them to d our jobs, they are making 6.00 per hour. I’ll bet the CEO of AT&T put the difference in his pockets. As I recall he recieved huge bonues every year that looked like lottery winnings. I have been looking for a job ever since. I lost my apartment and was homeless for almost two years. In March of this year I developed Autoimmune Hepatitis, and nearly died because I had no medical insurance. I was going to a free clinic for homeless people, and the Dr. Marsha Beal told me there was nothing wrong with me. Never mind she never ordered any blood test. He I told her of bad I was feeling, she told me to put salt on the back of my tongue. He my eyes and skin turned yellow, I went to William Beaumont Hospital, where they saved my life. I was told by the doctors there, had I not gotten there when I did, I would have died. The free clinic doctor, had been seeing me for a year. I’m grateful for the doctors at Beaumont. I was afraid of huge medical bills, thus the reason for going to the free/death clinic.

    So don’t you think for one minute I don’t want a job…any job…I don’t care what it is as long as it’s not illegal. Being homeless and living in squalor coupled with stress can kill you. Unemployment isn’t a free ride, because it does not pay all of your bills. I still believe in America even if Congress does not believe in me. God Bless the millions of American still unemployed. God help the few that think we enjoy being unemployed. Have a nice day, I will be taking my daily 11 meds.

    • Sharon says:

      The words he should have been “When” I don’t know why this computer did that or was it the website….I dunno smh

  18. Diane says:

    I think Congress would have a much more sympathetic vote if they lost their jobs and had nothing to fall back on. The lack of unemployment benefits will trickle throughout the rest of the economy however it will be noticed more now because the media will pick up on it more and more. Loss of utilities, kids going hungry and families losing their homes will be making even more news now. How about our politicians taking a day or two without pay to cover the cost? Would they be willing?

    • Nobody says:

      Why should the politians work for free to pay you NOT to work?

      • BRANDY says:

        Hello nobody if i am corect it is the taxpayers that pay those polititions and reason is this they live or have how many houses and they should at least take a pay cut in this economical times just like the reat of us but instead they get richer the old saying

        THE POOR GET POORER AND THE RICH GET RICHER if they woulkd take a pay cut or better yet if they had to live on what we normal middle class citizens do they would not be able to make it

        those polititions are the same ones that raise our taxes to give our money and jobs to those ovberseas aka other countries without blinking and then fight tooth and nail when it comesw to giving US citiazens any form of money. usa should be more concerned about giving its own citizens money and NOT other countryes over seas billions and billions of dollars and making us pay for it so if u want to complaine about paying ppl not to work then u should really be looking at the money and jobs going to china , africa, and the other countries that are getting free money all becaouse we are paying for it in our taxes.

  19. Diane says:

    And unemployment benefits are taxed at the end of the year just like regular earned income. That money is going somewhere just like all of the other tax dollars we pay. It’s really interesting to read everyone’s comments…especially ones who have jobs and have never been out of work for a long period of time. I have been out of work for 6 months..not 2 years and my benefits just ran out. Without the extention or a job, it’s going to be really tough! So please before you all who seem to “know it all” post judgemental comments,,,consider what it would be like to take a walk a in someone else’s shoes, say a family or single parent who’s unemployment checks are barely feeding the children or making the mortgage payment late because they have to save 80 percent of their 280.00 unemployment check for 3 weeks just to pay the mortgage! It’s easy to say do away with it when you have a job. I am 44 years old and have worked since I was 14 1/2 years old. I have paid taxes on every dime I have ever made.
    I am paying taxes on my unemployment checks as well. Wake up and look around get off your high horse and consider what life would be if you didn’t have your job for 6 months or a 2 years.

  20. Jeff says:

    I do not believe for one second that every single person that gets unemployment is out there every single day putting in applications. The other thing is people ARE picking and choosing! There was a forum that I found online saying that there are no jobs anywhere, and that forum was from a small town that I know very well, so I did some research. I called a few friends of mine that still live there and I also called a few businesses and pretended to be looking for work. Guess what, almost every place I called is hiring right now. So I went back to that forum, posted who was hiring, and you would not believe some of the responses I got. One lady told me that she would kill herself before she worked one of those jobs. A few others said they didn’t go to college for four years to work at a minimum wage job. Just excuse after excuse. So I asked this question, if your child crawled into bed with you today and asked mommy, daddy, when can I eat again, my belly hurts, what would you do? If your unemployment ran out would you take one of those jobs then? Guess what, not one person responded besides the ones that viewed it the same way as me. Is that not sad that you would rather let your child starve to death instead of working as a cashier, a waitress, or some other job that is considered beneath some of you?

    That forum right there made my mind up for me about this whole unemployment thing. People saying they refuse to work at certain establishments. Bottom line, it’s work, jobs are available, Americans are just too lazy, they don’t want the job but complain when a hispanic person gets it.

    Last thing. Do you honestly think people are going to go look for work when they know they can sit back and get unemployment for TWO years? There is nothing pushing them to get out there and work. That whole thing about you have to at least put two applications in each week is a load of crap. Maybe if the government would end this BS some of those low end jobs would get filled and we wouldn’t have so many unemployed. I understand people need help but how long do you expect the people to carry you and your family on their backs? If we extend it this time, once again, then when will it ever stop? Pretty soon unemployment will be the new S.S.

    • BRANDY says:

      i understand that as well and something is better than nothing however in our criteria for aceppting a job it stantes that if the job would not pay us the same amount as unemployment or more we do NOT have to take the job now that being said what i get on uc is 82 dollars a week so i could work anywhere and still meat that criteria now my boyfriend on the other hand and the one that pays most bills and household expences would have to find a lob willing to pay him 10 dollars an hour under that statement. and yes i agree however i was chating with an old school friend that moved to a biger city and told him about the job situation in my town and he said yeah i know thats why—– — had to move to another state to work. now i have 2 small children one is going to be starting shool next year and the other was diagnosed with lukemia so our family moving to another state is not posible at all .

  21. Jeff says:

    As far as the budget goes, if you want a quick fix, one that will generate tons of income not only now but for years and years, legalize pot and do away with tax cuts for the rich.

    I know when people hear the word drug they automatically start assuming the worst. Let’s think about this for a second. Compare death related accidents from legal alcohol to death related accidents from illegal weed, where weed was the ONLY contributing factor. Also compare how many times the police were called for domestic violence, assault, where alcohol was involved versus how many calls they received for pot related violence. I can give you plenty of comparisons that would make pot look like gold.

    Now, look at how much money the state of California produced in the form of taxes just off of pot sales. It was in the millions, maybe even billions, for one year of sales. Now if we had that coming in from every state not only would it decrease the deficit it would also open up tons of jobs for the unemployed. It’s on every street corner of America anyways so why not legalize it and tax the crap out of it.

    The other part, tax breaks for the rich, that is just common sense there. I don’t even need to go into details about that really. If we have to pay taxes on every dollar that we earn, then so should they. It’s not like they are hurting for that money or anything. But leave it up to our government to pick on the military and the disabled while people like Oprah, Miley Cyrus, etc., get breaks on the millions they pull in each year.

  22. mimi says:

    When people already have a job they start to feel superior or invincibe. When you lose that income and are where we are wanting to keep our homes and food you will have a real wake up call.
    Always remember what comes around goes around!

    • Nobody says:

      90% of people ARE employed. We do not feel superior or invincible.

      Face it, you ARE unemployed and just might lose your homes. The 90% of employed people do not deserve to be forced to pay your mortgages along with our own.

      What are you going to do, blame EVIL government, corporations and employed people for your situation? Then turn around and ask one of us for a job?

  23. mimi says:

    Jeff,
    Since your calling these places and they are hiring why dont you open up an employment agency? You can also publish what places you called and when you get downsized or laid-off you have a new place to work at….. Stop judging those of us who lost jobs and yes we are looking everyday. Can you cast the first stone, Jeff?

  24. Caitlyn says:

    I worked and paid taxes for 34 years. Never thought I’d not be able to find a job. I mean, I worked for the same company for 20 yrs, had/have good references, yet for the past 16 months I’ve sent out over 700 resumes. Talked to many HR departments, and still don’t have a job. What I get on unemployment is less then a third of what I was making, my bills haven’t changed really. Did have to sell my car because couldn’t afford the payment, insurance, and gas, so that took care of some of my bills, but my savings is gone, and if I can’t find a job soon I don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t have family to fall back on, so you think I’m scared, you better believe it. I’m terrified. So as long as I’m able to get unemployment, and apply for jobs I will. And I will continue to cross my fingers , and hope for the best.

    Those of you that haven’t lost your job, until you’ve been in this situation I suggest you keep your opinion to yourself. Because you never know, your job could be next.

    • Nobody says:

      I haven’t lost my job and in my OPINION you should be looking harder for a job. As far as unemployment goes, 99 weeks is more than enough.

      • BRANDY says:

        to nobody maybe thats why ur posting as that so ur employer cant get rid of u or maybe ur a politition yous self and are afraid that we wont vote u in in mid term elections. do me a favior on your next pay check take 230. a week and try to pay all ur bills and food and then DONT SPEND ANY OF THE REST OF IT FOR THE MONTH AND THEN DO THE SAME THING ON THE NEXT MONTH oh yeah and its christmas time swo try to get christmas for ur family on that to and then come back here and tell us how u dod or that our morgages and rewnt are to much lol then well see whos laughing

        • Nobody says:

          Brandy,

          I CAN pay my bills on $230.00 a week, mortgage
          included. I’m 51 years old and learned my lesson earlier in life.

          I’m only laughing at the things you just said.

      • Amy says:

        Count yourself as lucky and hope that your attitude doesn’t come back as karma.

        One job for every five unemployed people.

        • Nobody says:

          I do count myself as lucky and my attitude is just fine.

          You better work a little harder to stand out as that one in five.

  25. Drew Wohlford says:

    As an unemployed man who can’t find anything and a wife who is in School full time. I think the economy has not turned around in this area. We have heavy plant closings and unemployment numbers. I have looked constantly since March and can’t even get an interview flipping burgers. Please we need that money or we will be on the street


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