Study: Jobless benefit recipients spend more time looking for work

Zachary Roth

As Congress continues to mull whether to extend unemployment benefits, a new government study bolsters the case for doing so.

Jobless Americans who receive benefits spend more time looking for work than those who don't receive them (pdf), according to a new study by Congress's non-partisan Joint Economic Committee. The finding undercuts the claim, advanced lately by some opponents of unemployment insurance, that benefits act as a disincentive for the jobless to find work.

In fact, the report finds: "[S]ince Congress enacted federal unemployment benefits, time spent looking for a job has tripled among the long‐term unemployed who are out of work as a result of job loss."

Why would those who receive benefits look harder? The report doesn't speculate, but it's likely in part because they're required to. Recipients of federal unemployment insurance have to demonstrate that they're actively looking for a job. In addition, those without benefits may have less time to devote to a job search, because they're forced to focus on getting by in the short-term.

We wrote earlier this week about the impact on the unemployed if Congress fails to extend benefits.