6/18/2011

Any predictions on what will happen to the unemployment rate in Alaska, Arizona, and Wisconsin?

This New York Times article refers to opposition to very long term unemployment benefits as "ideological." No mention of the huge number of economics studies on this issue. Economists are quoted as only saying: "Some economists say that cutting off the long-term unemployed from extended federal assistance could backfire by putting further strain on state economies instead." But no one about the real costs that the long term benefits have on unemployment and even those who get the benefits.

That last extension of unemployment benefits — typically received in weeks 80 through 99 of unemployment — is paid for entirely with federal money and does not affect state budgets. But because of ideological opposition and other legislative priorities, Arizona and a handful of other states, like Wisconsin and Alaska, have not made the one-word change necessary to keep the program going.

Right now about 640,000 jobless Americans are receiving this last tier of benefits, according to the National Employment Law Project. The money, appropriated in the 2009 federal stimulus package, was initially intended for states with jobless rates higher than they were two years earlier. Since the recovery has been much slower than predicted, though, Congress decided last December to allow states to continue receiving the money if their unemployment rates were higher than they were three years earlier. States simply needed to change “two” to “three” in the relevant state law. . . .

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