Should Unemployment Benefits Be Extended?

The 2009 Stimulus packaged passed last year authorized up to 99 weeks of unemployment benefits to those who have lost their jobs. Now almost 2 years later, some people are still unemployed, collecting at least $250/wk to stay out of work. That in my opinion is not a bad deal. These people have time to pursue new training, educating themselves for a different, more needed job, or to begin a business on their own. But do they want to do that? I'm not so sure.
Before you cast stones and say I'm being mean and I don't know what its like to be unemployed, you're wrong. I worked for fifteen years in the food industry and in the beginning of the decade I was laid off from 4 different jobs within 2 years. The companies eliminated my research and development position, or closed the facility to move operations to another state, or cut back on quality control since it was an expense. I was on unemployment briefly for a month before finding another position. But now I make 25% less money than I did in the food industry. But I have a job. Luckily its a stable job. But I certainly didn't take it for the money, or for the stimulation. I make the same amount of money now that I made just a few years out of college. But I know better than to quit in hopes of making more money, or getting more personal satisfaction from a job - its too risky for me. So I hang out in a terribly boring job.
I don't think Congress should extend the unemployment compensation past 26 weeks for people. There are jobs out there and they need staff. I have other part time jobs doing security for concerts and sporting events, and secret shops at restaurants. Its not much money, just over minimum wage - but I do it for the event, not the money. But my part time employers are contacting us weekly because they need more people to work.
Most people on unemployment don't want to lose their full benefits to work and only earn half as much. I can understand that. The government is demotivating people from working, when they can stay home and not work - but bring home more money.  So the incentive to not work needs to go away. Unemployment compensation needs to stop after a reasonable amount of time. I think 26 weeks is reasonable.
By the time Congress returns from its July 4 recess this week, more than 2.1 million unemployed people will have missed checks. The House passed a bill to reauthorize the benefits last week; a similar bill did not pass in the upper chamber due to a Republican filibuster. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said that as soon as there is a replacement for the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), Democrats will have the 60 votes they need and the bill will pass. If Reid is correct, layoff victims will be paid retroactively for any missed checks. Without a reauthorization, 3.2 million long-term unemployed will have found themselves ineligible for extended benefits by the end of the month.
Maybe when the unemployment gravy runs out, people will get back to work.


  1. I couldn't agree more with your post. It's not like our government has the money to pay these benefits anyway. We're all going to pay a very high price down the road because of the debt Congress is loading on us.

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  3. Anonymous7/15/2010

    It's not as simple as you think Marsha. Over 2M people with an average of $1000.00 a month in benefits - thats a dip in 200M this month in spending - thus creating a further strain on business. Remember that most of the reciepients have been working all their lives paying taxes, owning property, and raising children. So we should turn our backs on them now. Not to mention the strain it has put on other government agencies because now they are giving out more aid.
    Our workers are what made America what it is, now take care of them.....have a heart.

  4. Anonymous7/15/2010

    BTW - this is not welfare - it is unemployment insurance which most of us have paid thousands into.