After 4 1/2 years of “recovery”, we’ve finally had a decent jobs report. You’d think the Democrats would hoot and holler in exaltation.
House-Senate negotiators are close to a modest budget accord to avoid another government shutdown, but suddenly the White House is introducing a last-minute demand. Five years into an economic recovery that President Obama often hails as miraculous, he wants to extend unemployment benefits one more time.
That would add some $25 billion to the deficit with no compensating economic benefit. The Administration claims that every $1 of jobless benefits creates $1.80 in economic growth, based on the notorious “multiplier” in Keynesian economic models. This is the theory that you can increase employment by paying more people not to work, and that you can take money out of the private economy by taxes or borrowing without cost. If that theory worked, the government should pay everyone not to work.
Alan Krueger, President Obama’s former chief economist, coauthored a 2008 study reviewing the amount of time that unemployed individuals in different states and countries spent looking for a new job and found, among other things, that “job search is inversely related to the generosity of unemployment benefits.” Other studies have found that laid-off workers ineligible for unemployment benefits spend more time looking for a new job than those who get checks.
“Public policy designed to help workers who lose their jobs can lead to structural unemployment as an unintended side effect. . . . In other countries, particularly in Europe, benefits are more generous and last longer. The drawback to this generosity is that it reduces a worker’s incentive to quickly find a new job. Generous unemployment benefits in some European countries are widely believed to be one of the main causes of ‘Eurosclerosis,’ the persistent high unemployment that affects a number of European countries.”–”Macroeconomics” by Paul Krugman and Robin Wells, second edition, 2009
Like raising the minimum wage, unemployment benefits depress employment. But good political luck with that point of view. Democrats will trade jobs for votes every day—and twice on election day.