NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

January 10, 2014

Congress should extend unemployment benefits

(Continued)

Fortunately, not all Republicans agree with Paul’s line of thinking. New England senators Kelly Ayotte and Susan Collins voted with their Democratic counterparts earlier this week. And the American Enterprise Institute’s Michael Strain, writing in National Review Online last month, called an extension “a reasonable and prudent measure.

“If 26 weeks is deemed long enough for a worker to find a job in normal economic conditions, then it’s not long enough during a recession, when jobs are much harder to come by,” Strain wrote. “This is double true for a downturn as serious as the Great Recession. When the labor market is in better shape, of course, the emergency federal extensions are allowed to expire.”

Yes, extending benefits will likely cause an uptick in the unemployment rate, which hovers around 7 percent. Letting them expire, however, is not the answer, as many of the long-term unemployed would likely stop looking for work once they lost their benefits.

Strain puts it best: “We should want to keep long-term unemployed attached to the labor force until the economy picks up, more jobs become available, and they can find work. We should not want today’s long-term unemployed to permanently exit the labor force simply because their benefits expire. Why? Because many may end up on government assistance until they reach retirement age. That is worse for them, worse for the economy, and more expensive for the federal government over the long term.”

We agree. For the recovery for this recession to be considered complete, it needs to include all Americans.

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