Economic snapshot | Jobs and Unemployment

Unemployment insurance benefits increase job-search activities

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Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed legislation authored by Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) that would reduce the maximum number of weeks of unemployment insurance benefits that the federal government provides to jobless workers from 73 weeks to 33 weeks.

Claims that unemployment insurance benefits dissuade the jobless from looking for work are untrue, as the accompanying chart shows. Research by Carl Van Horn and the Heldrich Center at Rutgers University shows that unemployed workers who receive unemployment compensation do more to find a job than those who never receive benefits. They do more online job searching, are more likely to look at newspaper classified ads, and are more likely to send email inquiries and applications to prospective employers.

The reason unemployed Americans can’t find jobs isn’t a failure to look. As EPI economist Heidi Shierholz points out, they can’t find jobs because there are 10.6 million more unemployed workers than there are available jobs.

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—with research assistance from Hilary Wething

See more work by Ross Eisenbrey