Critics Warn Jobless Benefits Becoming Welfare

Extensions up to 99 weeks too much, they say
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 10, 2010 6:02 AM CST
Critics Warn Jobless Benefits Becoming Welfare
Travis Warner, left, Annette Lee, and Lisa Tanner hold signs at a protest against Kentucky US Sen. Jim Bunning's stand against extending unemployment benefits.   (AP Photo/The Courier-Journal, Tyler Bissmeyer)

The unemployment benefit program designed to help workers in the short term is turning into an expensive form of welfare as extensions continue, complain critics in Congress and elsewhere. Workers in the hardest-hit states can now claim benefits for 99 weeks, the longest period since the program began in the '30s, and lawmakers like Jim Bunning complain that the benefits are a disincentive for the jobless to find work.

For Congress to extend the time limit is natural with today's grim job market, a labor economist at the Heritage Foundation tells the Washington Post, "but by quadrupling it, it is no longer an unemployment insurance program but a welfare program." Others say the "disincentive" argument isn't relevant when there's six unemployed workers for every available job. "The primary reason people are out of work so long is a lack of jobs," the deputy director of the National Employment Law Center notes.
(More unemployment benefits stories.)

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