The Long Term Unemployed
As Jim pointed out the long term unemployment is higher than it has been since the Great Depression. As I have pointed out before there are simply not enough jobs for everyone who needs them. Long term unemployment benefits puts money in their pockets but really doesn’t address the real problem. The longer you are unemployed the less likely it is you will get a job. Matthew Yglesias has a great post today which he concludes with this:
At a time when interest rates continue to be super low and the budget deficit is modest and falling rapidly, cutting them off from benefits is simply inhumane. It’s cruel and pointless, and it’s probably economically counterproductive too since it’ll mean a loss in demand for businesses that the long-term jobless might otherwise patronize. But mostly it’s cruel.
Now what’s true is that given the nature of the predicament the long-term jobless are in, unemployment insurance has really become an inappropriate way to support them. The idea of UI is to tide people over until they can find a job. The problem with the long-term unemployed at this point is they aren’t going to be able to find jobs. But rather than cutting them off from money, the challenge calls for more vigorous efforts to get them back into work through some mix of direct government hiring and relocation programs to help connect them with the regional pockets of labor shortage that are emerging.
If you haven’t seen it before you should watch the 1936 movie My Man Godfrey. While it is a light comedy it does show the conditions of many thousands who were left to their own during the great depression. Do we really want to see shanty towns that look like they are straight out of a poor third world country in the United States? Apparently the current crop of Republicans don’t have a problem with that. We have to look at how we are going to deal with a world where there are not enough jobs for everyone that needs one.