NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Jobless Benefits Expiring For Some Workers

February 22, 2002

Despite growing signs that the economy is in recovery mode, the jobs pool continues to shrink and unemployed workers are exhausting jobless benefits in numbers not seen since the early 1970s -- however, the U.S. workforce is much larger today.

  • The U.S. Conference Board reported yesterday that its index of leading economic indicators rose 0.6 percent in January -- following an upward revision to a 1.3 jump in December.
  • Nevertheless, the Labor Department says new jobless claims rose 10,000 to 383,000 last week.
  • And the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities contends that nearly 81,000 workers are exhausting their jobless benefits every week.

All this is background to the political debate over extending unemployment benefits by 13 weeks -- which Democrats want, but which Republicans remind them won't create a single job.

Historically, Congress hasn't moved quickly to extend unemployment benefits. During the past three recessions, Congress waited at least 13 months before adding extra weeks to unemployment benefits. It has been 11 months since the current recession began last March.

Employment gains generally lag behind in an economic recovery -- and economists say that could be particularly true this year as productivity remains high. High productivity rates suggest less need for additional workers even as demand for goods and services increases.

Source: Russell Gold, "As Jobs Pool Continues to Shrink, Unemployed Are Using Up Benefits," Wall Street Journal, February 22, 2002.


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