The Unemployed Don’t Need Tough Love

by Patrick Appel

UI Cut Off

Ben Casselman makes clear that Congress cutting off unemployment benefits “hasn’t spurred the unemployed back to work.” He finds that “the roughly 1.3 million Americans whose benefits disappeared with the end of the program, only about a quarter had found jobs as of March, about the same success rate as when the program was still in effect”:

There has been no sudden surge of former benefits recipients into jobs. Nor have they abandoned the labor force in droves. Most have done what [Helene] Laurusevage [who lost her unemployment benefits] has done: continued looking for work, but without the lifeline that benefits provided.

For Laurusevage, the cutoff has been wrenching. Her husband’s salary, combined with the $563 a week she got in unemployment benefits — the equivalent of about $30,000 a year — was enough to make ends meet. But once her benefits expired in December, life got harder. Their savings depleted, they scraped together this month’s mortgage payment only by borrowing from David’s 79-year-old mother. They don’t know what they’ll do this month.

“We are about to go under,” Laurusevage said. “My entire savings account is gone. Everything I spent years to save is gone.”