In most states, you can now collect unemployment checks for 79 weeks. I have mixed feelings about that.
Arguments in favor of having extended unemployment payments to 79 weeks.
A role of government is to supplement private charity in helping to compensate for inequalities, especially those not a person's fault. A person doesn't qualify for unemployment checks if he's fired, only if he's laid off because the company is downsizing, has changing needs, is offshoring, etc.
And even if the person was laid off because, in fact, he isn't the brightest or most skilled or most driven, some of that is not his fault: partly a function of genetic predispositions, upbringing, the socioeconomic status of his family, etc.
In a society in which many business owners and executives live wealthy lifestyles, wealth often created by offshoring jobs and making remaining American workers work longer and harder, thereby allowing downsizing, isn't it fair that a laid-off worker get unemployment checks while she is looking for another job? And in this job market, that can indeed take as long as 79 weeks.
Besides, the laid-off workers contributed part of the money that pays for unemployment insurance. When they become unemployed, shouldn't they be allowed to collect?
Arguments against extending unemployment payments.
Unemployment insurance, paid for by employers and employees (you and I), encourage laziness. A number of my career counseling clients admit they deliberately tried to get laid off so they don't have to work but could instead collect unemployment checks for 79 weeks. One client said he got himself laid off by working just fast enough to avoid being fired but slow enough to be put at the head of the line when the company was deciding whom to lay off. Another client got herself laid off by threatening to file a racial discrimination suit, which, when the employer balked, said she'd agree to forgo-- if the employer agreed to lay her off. Another client was laid off legitimately and had started to look for work when his 26 weeks of eligibility for employment checks was drawing near, but when the government extended payments to 79 weeks, he stopped looking. A relative of mine told me that unemployment check recipients are required to, every two weeks, submit five names of companies they contacted in looking for work. This guy simply copied company names from the phone book without having contacted anyone.
Extending unemployment benefits ironically results in job cuts because the extension forces employers to pay more per employee. That, combined with the many other employer burdens (for example, Family and Marriage Leave Act, Medicare, disability, FICA, other retirement plans, and soon, government-mandated health care payments) pressures employers to offshore, automate, and downright eliminate ever more jobs, and requiring existing employers to work yet harder. Extending unemployment benefits is supposed to help the average worker. Net, it may hurt them.
What do you think?