Does paying unemployment benefits create higher unemployment?

man looks at job board
man looks at job board

There's been some jumping on the bandwagon by more people who now believe that by giving the unemployed up to 99 weeks of unemployment checks, we have fostered a climate where they have no incentive to get a job. The argument goes that if we just stopped giving these freeloaders money, they'd go get a job already and the unemployment numbers would decrease. Are these people getting their news from the Cartoon Network?

They are right about one thing: If jobless benefits were cut off, those unemployment statistics would indeed decrease. The number of actual people without jobs wouldn't diminish, of course, but the government would stop counting them and thus the statistics for unemployment would go down. Government unemployment statistics are drawn from the number of people who file unemployment claims in the previous 4-week period. So if we eliminated unemployment benefits and there are no claims being filed, there are no unemployed people to count and voila! the problem vanishes. Talk about putting your head in the sand.