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From the Department of "WHO COULD HAVE PREDICTED THIS?"

by: Eric B.

Thu May 22, 2014 at 13:30:00 PM EDT


Back a couple of years ago, our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect insisted that the best way to get people back to work was to cut business taxes and to kick people off unemployment. They said people on unemployment were just lazy and too dependent on government to provide them with money and tossing them off unemployment would prompt them to find their own self-dignity and respect and get a job already, God damn it.

Ahem.

The government doesn’t directly track what happens to people when their benefits run out. But the Current Population Survey, the monthly survey used to calculate the unemployment rate and related data, does ask people what state they live in and how long they’ve been unemployed. That means we can identify people who are likely to have lost benefits when the emergency program ended and compare their success at finding jobs to people who likely received benefits when the program was still in effect.5 This approach isn’t perfect — for one thing, we can only tell whether people likely qualified for benefits, not whether they actually received them — but past research suggests this methodology has a strong correlation with actual receipt of benefits.6

This analysis suggests the end of benefits has had at most a small impact on the rate at which workers find jobs. In 2013, people who likely qualified for emergency benefits had a monthly job-finding rate of 12 percent. In the four months since the program ended, the job-finding rate for likely cutoff victims — people who would likely have qualified for extended benefits if the program had been renewed — was slightly higher, at 14 percent. But the difference isn’t statistically significant. Even if it holds up as more data comes in, it could be the result of the improving economy rather than the direct impact of the end of the emergency program.

They're talking about the emergency unemployment benefits that weren't renewed at the end of last year, but the results probably translate nicely across the board. Ending people's benefits don't translate into a rise in people finding jobs if no one will hire them. In fact, according to the analysis, more people simply stopped looking for work than who found jobs.

If we lived in a fact-based society, the sound you would now hear would be the death throes of yet another rightwing shibbolleth about public assistance. Instead, because we don't, what you hear is the scraping sound as yet another rightwing zombie shambles along.

Eric B. :: From the Department of "WHO COULD HAVE PREDICTED THIS?"
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