unemployment

Matthew O’Brien wishes Congress would deal with long-term unemployment:

It’s been over four years since the recovery officially began, but it still feels like a recession to most people. Maybe that’s because with three unemployed people for every job opening, things are still as bad as they ever got last recession. Not that Washington has paid much attention the past few years. It’s been too preoccupied with short-term deficits to care about long-term unemployment. That was obvious when a Congressional hearing in April about people out of work for six months or more drew all of … one senator at the start. And it is even more obvious now with the latest budget deal.

Michael Strain explains why we should care:

People derive so much of their identity and of their moral core from being able to work. It’s how people provide for their families, express creativity, gives you a sense of purpose. There are all these moral and spiritual and psychological benefits to working. So if you want to ask how society is doing broadly, certainly the economics are important, but more important is whether this society is functioning in a way that people can live the fullest life possible and can maximize their potential. And right now, for these 4 million folks, we’re failing.

Yglesias suggests ways to help the unemployed:

One is direct government hiring of the long-term unemployed to do some kind of public service work. Making this happen would require you to go outside the standard civil service and federal contracting frameworks, which obviously neither civil servants nor federal contractors are going to like. But it has the job-creating punch of a major war without all the death and destruction. The other is relocation assistance. The metropolitan areas of Bismarck, Fargo, Grand Forks, Sioux Falls, Ames, Iowa City, Lincoln (Neb.), Midland, Burlington, Mankato (Minn.), Logan, Rochester (Minn.), Billings, Dubuque, Morgantown, Odessa, Rapid City, Omaha, Waterloo (Iowa), Columbia (Mo.), and St. Cloud all have unemployment rates below 4 percent … Grant programs to connect the long-term unemployed with job opportunities on the Plains and offer financial assistance for relocation could do a lot of good.

Suzt Khimm reports on the situation:

Advocates for the unemployed say they’re not surprised by the difficulties they’re facing on Capitol Hill. “We’ve known from the beginning this was going to be an uphill battle,” says Judy Conti, federal advocacy coordinator for the National Employment Law Project. And there is one fallback solution for Democrats if Congress doesn’t act before the end of the year: Unemployment benefits can be restored retroactively, as they were in 2010.

Chart from the CBPP.