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home : opinion : opinion May 25, 2016

1/5/2014 6:00:00 AM
Editorial: With economy still sputtering, it's time to restore unemployment, for now

Alan Choate
News Editor

Are we really back to this debate again?

When Congress reconvenes on Monday, President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., have promised to push for the re-establishment of extended unemployment insurance benefits.

The fact that any responsible elected official would allow subsistence income to expire in the name of punishing so-called "takers" or "freeloaders," especially during the holiday season, is downright despicable.

The No. 1 reason for continuing to support unemployment insurance beyond the normal 26 weeks provided by states is that the money gets spent. It keeps people housed, keeps the utilities on and food on the table, maintains crucial Internet connections that people need to continue to look for work - and pumps money into local economies.

The program, at $25 billion for a year, wouldn't be cheap. But there's plenty of data backing the idea that it's the least bad option for a still-struggling economy.

Michael R. Strain, an economist with the American Enterprise Institute, makes this case, noting that the root cause of extended unemployment assistance still exists. "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," he wrote.

Furthermore, as he and others note, those who are receiving unemployment must meet certain requirements, including being available and actively searching for work. There's some evidence that the end of "extended UI," as it's called, results in people accepting work that they otherwise wouldn't. But the more likely outcome is that people simply leave the workforce altogether. In fact, that's what appears to have happened in North Carolina, which slashed unemployment last year.

Here's why that's a problem, once again according to Strain: "We should not want today's long-term unemployed to permanently exit the labor force simply because their UI 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."

If that's not persuasive, try these stats from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

From April 1959 to March 1985, the long-term unemployment rate when "extended UI" expired did not exceed 1 percent. In March of 1985, the long-term unemployment rate was 1.2 percent; in the last two recessions prior to the Great Recession (ending in February 1994 and December 2003, according to the BLS), the long-term unemployment rates were 1.3 percent.

Currently, the long-term unemployment rate is 2.6 percent - far above the rate when "extended UI" ended at any time in the last five decades.

There will be a time - hopefully in the New Year - when these benefits can be phased out. For those who are truly long-term unemployed, perhaps there are job training programs that can be paired with benefits, or relocation help that can get people to available jobs.

Absent those, however, there's no excuse for removing a lifeline that's keeping people from slipping through the cracks.


This may come as a shock, but a scientific study has determined that texting, eating, dialing a mobile phone, reaching for something away from the steering wheel or looking at a roadside attraction while driving could lead to a crash.

In other "news," 2+2=4, drunk driving is never a good idea, and the sky is blue.

Seriously, do we really need a study to tell us that driving with one hand while not watching the road is dangerous?

For the record, the study was by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development, and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Arizona, of course, has repeatedly rejected bans on texting while driving. The state Department of Public Safety, meanwhile, has said they're going to start targeting distracted drivers, including texters, whether there's a ban on texting while driving or not.

Good for them. When we're behind the wheel, it's time to pay attention to driving. If you're hungry, pull over. If you see a pretty view, pull over. And if your cell phone beeps, ignore it until you're not driving. No message is worth a wreck.

Related Stories:
• No local texting and driving ban planned, for now

Related Links:
• Why unemployment benefits should be extended – American Enterprise Institute
• New England Journal of Medicine – Distracted Driving Study

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2014
Article comment by: Just A Thought

Here's a thought. Before you go running to one of those Job Service providers remember this, most places that are going through these services have websites that you can apply through. Try that first, be aware that some companies insist you use the Job Services. However, if you can apply through a company website it can be the difference in a few dollars an hour because the Job Services do not do this for free.

Posted: Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Article comment by: True Facts

"See how many jobs there are and how many responses you get.

There's one problem, more times than not, someone fills out an application and doesn't follow up. I was taught to bug the heck out of them.

Where are you looking for jobs? If it's Kingman then you better get use to the idea that you will have to settle for a FAT Food job or manufacturing.

What does your resume look like? Find someone who is half way intelligent and have them proof read it. I couldn't believe how many applications I looked at that had misspelled words, missing words, and punctuation. Does your skills match your resume?

Posted: Sunday, February 9, 2014
Article comment by: You Don't Say

"First, five years experience tells us obama is not interested in helping people but finding votes, first for himself or any big government libs coming after him."

And this would of not even been necessary had the Republicans not been out trying to suppress votes. You see, the Republicans stance is if they can't get the votes, then by god nobody will be allowed to vote.

Posted: Friday, January 17, 2014
Article comment by: V Stokes

Bob...I've said in the past...that I agree with the limited benefits. It wouldn't be that difficult to figure out based on expected lifespan, amount paid in, inflation,etc. Also as I've said in the past...the same amount invested in a safe, low interest fund of some sort would probably pay more than SS and over a longer term.

I've also agreed with lifting the income cap on payments in. Its ridiculous to me that someone making millions only pays into SS on the first $117K.

As to the means test....well...with that it's just a redistribution of wealth by Federal edict. Not sure I could support that. I think you and I both know that the truly rich don't worry about or handle their own money. They pay people and those people get them their max return. Some are probably altruistic enough to turn down all the benefits they are eligible for...but many never even consider it.

Posted: Friday, January 17, 2014
Article comment by: Trained Observer

Any of you that feel that people should not get unemployment need to pretend you are looking for a job for about a month. Go ahead and apply for anything you find, whether you really need a job or not. See how many jobs there are and how many responses you get. You seem to think that jobs are easy to find, easy to get or somehow plentiful here. They aren't. If you want to work minimum wage, part time at fast food, you might be able to find something. Or not.

Posted: Friday, January 17, 2014
Article comment by: anonymous anonymous

Reality is for every 1 job there is 2.9 applicants might as well round that off to 3 to make sense, which means 1 job 3 people, now I know the right wingers are all math geniuses and they think that 1 job will provide work for all them unemployed 3 people but the math I learned in school says 2 end up unemployed! Extend the unemployment insurance until one has more jobs than unemployed folks its common sense, the Christian thing to do!

Posted: Thursday, January 16, 2014
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

“…some contribute very little and draw on it for many years.”

Actually the majority of us on Social Security have already or will draw more than we put into the system – the same can be said for Medicare. My contributions were at maximum for over twenty-five years, but I am confident I have drawn more than I put in. So what is your suggestion? Mine would be to shut us off when our benefit equals our contribution plus a modicum of interest. Personally that would effectively kill my Social Security, but would not impact my Medicare for a few more years (unless there is a major medical mess in my life).

Sounds fair to me, Vic, what do you say?

Another thought would be a means test preventing millionaires from drawing any benefits and don’t whine about “they paid into it!” No one “paid into it.” There is no Bob or Vic or Linda account. We all paid to support those drawing benefits when we worked.

Posted: Thursday, January 16, 2014
Article comment by: V Stokes

Ms Smith,
I know how SS works. The problem is that each successive generation is being burdened more and more as people live longer and continue to collect benefits. Also the fact that there are some that scam the system and collect benefits from a relatively young age while making little to no contribution.

Do you really think that using over one third of the governments expenditures each year on SS is a good idea? A business wouldn't last long if one third of their costs each year was paying retirement benefits.

As it is now...some contribute very little and draw on it for many years. Same as unemployment benefits.

Posted: Thursday, January 16, 2014
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

“…just like OBcare stealing 7.6Billion from medicare funds…”

Still incorrect and no matter how many times you and Linda post this garbage it will never be true.

Posted: Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Article comment by: Amaryllis Smith

V Stokes
Social Security was paid by our generation that went to those older than us as they had paid into it for those older than them.
Monies paid in should be earning interest.
Problem, just like OBcare stealing 7.6Billion from medicare funds, the elite in DC have robbed S.S. funds and there is A Lot of disability fraud out and about.

Posted: Friday, January 10, 2014
Article comment by: V Stokes

"collect money from a program way past the point that they made any contribution"

Oh...like Social Security?

Posted: Thursday, January 9, 2014
Article comment by: THE TEA PARTY IS ON KOCH

"like every other FED program this is another that needs to be torn apart and scrutinized because it is not benefiting those truly in need, it gives to those who are not!! .. So do you mean it gives to the corporations and super rich?

Posted: Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Article comment by: Frank Lee Speaking

How long should a person be allowed to collect money from a program way past the point that they made any contribution before we can stop calling it extended unemployment benefits and begin calling it what it is.......A welfare handout for freeloaders?


Posted: Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Article comment by: B. S. Checker

"Uhh, you do know that Obama cannot run for … oh never mind."

That doesn't mean he can't run or do something else that needs voter support.

"And the “job creators” with their massive tax breaks have done … oh never mind."

Created jobs. ..oh never mind.

"Sure I can, your making such a statement does not – as usual –make it true either.

You making such a statement does not-as usual-make it true either.

"That’s curious, since about 4 ½ years ago you “proudly” told us you had never taken unemployment compensation."

Maybe it was in the last few years or maybe they forgot or maybe.....oh never mind.

"Just more nonsense from a right wing opinion writer with no basis in fact – as usual."

Because it wasn't someone you agree with doesn't make it wrong.

"Of course you did."

I think, if you're honest, you do to. Like disability, it's not a failsafe system. Many people take advantage. If you can't admit that, you aren't being truthful.

But then, we have all become used to your unverified declarations of untruths and nonsense that everyone is expected to take as gospel just because YOU said it...oh never mind!


Posted: Monday, January 6, 2014
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

“First, five years experience tells us obama is not interested in helping people but finding votes…”

Uhh, you do know that Obama cannot run for … oh never mind.

“True compassion is working towards an atmosphere conducive to new hiring…”

And the “job creators” with their massive tax breaks have done … oh never mind.

“You can't name one good thing obama's stimulus package did…”

Sure I can, your making such a statement does not – as usual –make it true.

“I was on unemployment one time…”

That’s curious, since about 4 ½ years ago you “proudly” told us you had never taken unemployment compensation.

“Bruce Meyer in Unemployment Insurance and Unemployment Spells found higher benefits reduced the probability the unemployed will leave unemployment.”

Just more nonsense from a right wing opinion writer with no basis in fact – as usual.

“I personally knew people on unemployment, when offered a job, said no to wait out the end of their UI.”

Of course you did.

Posted: Monday, January 6, 2014
Article comment by: Amaryllis Smith

Then there is the "Seasonal" worker who works a months out of the year and then draws unemployment benefits. I rented from one of these people prior to my current residence. I submitted a letter to the miner ref. this issue. The person I was paying her mortgage parents were not happy with my letter. This person had no need of receiving unemployment as she is financially set up in family trust/incorporated whatever the hell they did. She can draw that UI and spend her off time traveling the world/country on it and does.

Like every other FED program this is another that needs to be torn apart and scrutinized because it is not only benefiting those truly in need, it gives to those who are not!!

Posted: Monday, January 6, 2014
Article comment by: H Q

Re: another company's responsibility now being paid for by
the taxpayers .
An excellent post thank you.now that Laron has received public funds for this program we the taxpayers should be informed as to it's progress & who other than them have benefited from these funds.
They already have received from the BOS @ taxpayers expense road improvement @there location while our neighborhood roads are a disaster !

Posted: Monday, January 6, 2014
Article comment by: mr. parker

@TFH and FH and ACR...:

"those Social Security checks that most conservative voters cash monthly." You're kidding right? Working people and their employers were forced into paying into SS. So, when they retire they shouldn't get paid? I know some liberals that might disagree with that as they cash their checks.

" Republicans are against extending the unemployment insurance is because this program requires companies to pay into it. " Well, you're technically correct. Employees don't contribute a thing into unemployment. They didn't earn it- unlike SS.

"if employees formed an association to lobby for their interest what do you think it would be called? And what is the chance any union would get public funding?"
It would be called useless, employees and unions don't create jobs.

I realize that the democrats have to pivot from the 0bamacare monstrosity and the old standby, class warfare is being dusted off again.

What are the democrats going to say when 0bama wants to bail out his friends at Big Insurance to cover up his "crowning achievement" and help those 6,000,000+ people buy back their old "junk" policies.

He's having a good time goofing off in HI, it would've been nice to show solidarity with the people if he took his vacation at his apartment in Chicago.

Posted: Monday, January 6, 2014
Article comment by: The Name Says It All

Knowledge, intelligence, desire to better one's self are positive attributes for which most would strive to accomplish.

Then we have pride in ignorance - Toodumtu Care.

Our written language is a way to convey meanings, ideas, positions. Some comments are so poorly written that it becomes impossible to understand what the author is attempting to convey.

Since a good majority of these poorly written comments in the Miner advocate for Republican ideas and positions, there is no need to state the obvious.

Posted: Monday, January 6, 2014
Article comment by: We're Screwed Because of Stagnant Ideology

Germany handled the recession and subsequent increases in unemployment in a very cleaver way. When companies started to lay off employees the German government urged companies to keep all their employees. Companies would reduce the hours worked to allow for reduced production. Employees were paid their normal wages with the government making up the difference in the hours not actually worked. Cleaver.

What do we do? We allow companies to lay off massive numbers (10-15 thousand) at a time. Those workers go on unemployment which is a fund paid into by companies. And a sizable amount of government subsidies go to these unemployed workers in the form of food stamps, etc.. When these workers exhaust their unemployment benefits, they are totally dependent on government money. Also, the longer these workers are without work, the more job skills are lost. When companies need to rehire, they have to retrain.

Now will the US ever do anything similar to the German plan. Nope. Certainly not with the Tea Baggers mentality dominating the Republican Party. The Republicans constantly hurt our county because they see government as "the problem". They are stuck in the Reagan era and nothing except growing old and dying off is going to change that.

Posted: Monday, January 6, 2014
Article comment by: WhatInthe World

Well everything is fine and dandy but AZ unemployment is only a big 248.00 Max Other states have the limit way up there so why would they want a low paying job when that's only what they get to start with. Or maybe they should let the extended unemployed workers,work at the DES call center that's a big mess average call time wait is about two hours, LOL and that's the new system.

Posted: Sunday, January 5, 2014
Article comment by: Toodumtu Care

Yep I suppose if I were knockin down in unemployement colse to what me take home pay was, i'd say "life is good".

However it appears that when this benefit is extended time after time, why the deuce should I go look for employement?? Life is good status quo.

Now I don't begruge any workin man or woman the benefit of unemployement benefits, However when it gets to the point that it's easier to do a "token" job search than to set on me fat behind and rake it in, this needs to stop. Only way to stop it is to cut off the source.

I haven't found in me reading of the Constitution where it says this ...government has to create jobs for the populace. Please someone, show me where it says that so I can sleep at night.

This sorry ...excuse of a president seems to lean to the socialist side of life, hand out the welfare, extend whatever freebees available. Someone ends up payin for all this crap, and it is always the taxpayer.

Half of the population of this country don't pay any tax, in fact a large portion of this population are livin on the gimme, gimme handout from this sorry ... government.

The only way to stop this debacle is at the precinct level. Elecct precinct chariman who will do the bidding of the local folks.

Posted: Sunday, January 5, 2014
Article comment by: R H

SURRRE !!! Why not ?. It's free money !. Corporate welfare and social welfare marching hand-in-hand into our wonderful BANKRUPT future . This is the problem with corporate interests feeding at the welfare trough : They can hire any manner of 'study groups' or PR firms to make the case for throwing fiat money at the economy via welfare disbursements . Sure , welfare queens buying soda and chips does put money into the economy but that money was stolen first from a working person. No one seems to get THAT part.

Posted: Sunday, January 5, 2014
Article comment by: mr. parker

When someone gets a graduated license under 18 years old, you can legislate that they may not use a cell phone without pulling over. We don't need new laws that restrict adults,the NEJM article shows that.
Most states have inattentive driving regulations which can be used against those who cause crashes or near crashes.
Police have MDT's(laptops), cell phones, radios and may be looking for someone or driving at a high rate of speed. More LODD are from accidents than gunfire.ODMP.org

"If the checks stop, then some workers probably will take a job that they wouldn’t otherwise have taken had their UI checks continued to roll in". AEI article.

For a while, people were getting 99 weeks of unemployment. During that time, they can easily get an associate degree or certificate in many useful fields. Are people who are unemployed taking advantage of MCC programs? Click on the website and then click on academics.
When I was younger, I worked at jobs I didn't like and I can't understand why someone who is laid off and will not be called back, won't take the initiative to support themselves and their families and take some "demeaning" job or re-train themselves at places like MCC.

Extending unemployment benefits is like giving a heroin addict more heroin to help them.

Posted: Sunday, January 5, 2014
Article comment by: Yep, Study Telling Us What We Know is Needed

Actually Alan, we probably do need a published study by a recognized and accepted group. We live with people that constantly say, "prove it". And even when 90% of a group says it is so they still say we don't believe it. Think Tea Party and climate change.

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