The Washington Post

Rand Paul: Long-term benefits a ‘disservice’ to the unemployed

(Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Extended jobless benefits actually contribute to the intractable problem they try to mitigate, says Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

The share of the unemployed who have been out of work for 27 weeks or more—a group known as the long-term unemployed—has swelled over the past few years to its largest level since World War II. For those individuals, getting back to work has proven difficult. Employers prefer to hire workers who have been unemployed for shorter periods than longer ones, even if those out of work longer have more relevant experience, according to research.

As a result, Paul says, allowing the unemployed to continue getting benefits in the long-term is “a disservice.”

“When you allow people to be on unemployment insurance for 99 weeks, you’re causing them to become part of this perpetual unemployed group in our economy,” he said on Fox News Sunday. If the unemployed stopped receiving benefits sooner, they would be back to work sooner, he suggested.

Extended benefits expire at the end of the year, meaning job-seekers in most states will only get 26 weeks of unemployment insurance, instead of 43 or more in most. That deadline represents an immediate cutoff for 1.3 million people, according to the National Employment Law Project. Paul's comments came in response to President Obama's call for an extension of those benefits.

Niraj Chokshi reports for GovBeat, The Post's state and local policy blog.



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