Don’t blame the unemployed

Jun 17, 2011 Issues: Economy

In his June 12 Outlook piece [“Will work for a signing bonus”], Todd Buchholz suggested cutting emergency unemployment benefits for jobless Americans and instead providing only a “signing bonus” if they can find a new job.

This proposal seems to be rooted in the belief that the unemployed should be blamed for high unemployment. In reality, jobless Americans want to work, but it remains hard to find a new job. Even if every current job opening were filled by an unemployed worker, there would still be more than 10 million of our fellow citizens looking for work. Furthermore, there is plenty of incentive for jobless Americans to actively seek work, given that the average unemployment benefit (about $300 a week) is only about 70 percent of the poverty level for a family of four.

More than 2 million private-sector jobs have been created over the past 14 months. But even with this improvement, there are still roughly 7 million fewer jobs in the economy than when the Great Recession started in December 2007. Our focus should be on continuing to create new jobs, not on cutting assistance to the unemployed.