Wonkblog reports that eight states are about to cut unemployment insurance. Conservatives tend to view this as a motivator, believing that removing unemployment insurance increases the incentive to get a job and will therefore increase employment. And under normal circumstances, that’s a reasonable argument.
The problem is, our economy is in a very bad place right now. There are 3.4 job seekers for every job opening, and I get the impression a lot of people just don’t understand the implications of that. It means that no matter how motivated the unemployed are, only a small number of them will be able to get jobs.
I’m reminded of a story I read last week about counter protesters who went to Occupy Wall Street protests and handed out McDonalds job applications. Last year McDonalds launched a national jobs day, offering 50,000 new jobs. They received so many applications that they decided to hire an additional 12,000 people, making for 62,000 new employees. Which left over 948,000 applications denied.
Simply put, there are not nearly enough jobs to go around. The rate at which the economy is adding jobs is much too slow to cover these people any time soon. And the longer a person remains unemployed the less attractive they are to employers. In fact, with the job market greatly favoring employers many have taken to not even offering jobs to people who have been out of work.
This is why liberals have been pleading for stronger government action to improve employment. The problem of unemployment is huge and it will not go away on its own. Ignoring it to focus on long term solutions or shifting our focus to deficit reduction leaves literally millions of Americans with no solution, a status-quo that we should find absolutely unacceptable.