Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Whose unemployment ...

While reading a post on Paul Krugman’s blog, a thought (not strictly about his topic) suddenly struck me. You may remember conservatives not wanting to extend unemployment benefits because they claimed that people on unemployment do not look for jobs, instead they sit around and watch TV and drink beer until a week before their unemployment runs out, then they look. Many liberals, particularly anyone who has looked for a job (like myself), spoke up to point out how terrifying being unemployed is, and how hard we actually worked while unemployed to look for a job (six hours a day was what I heard recommended).

The thought that just occurred to me is – what if the converse is true right now? What if companies are not hiring because they know that workers have unemployment insurance (who may own houses and in any event have little reason to travel when there no job boom anywhere in the US). Companies and corporations may well figure that because there is unemployment insurance, voters will think that the unemployed are just fine. US businesses may be willing to gamble and see if Barack Obama is kicked out, replaced by a sympathetic Republican. Besides, companies are posting record profits by terrorizing their remaining workers with the prospect of losing their jobs.

This possibility makes even more sense if you think about the shape of unemployment these days. It is the people who did not better, and frequently worse, than finishing high school who have the 20% unemployment numbers. The people who got the college degree are only facing a 4.5% unemployment rate, the ones with a graduate degree seeing a 4% unemployment rate. So the people who look more like corporate officers who are having the easier time right now.

There has been lots of speculation (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/12/opinion/12tue1.html?_r=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/11/opinion/11douthat.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss) about why Republicans are refusing to allow any tax cuts in the debt ceiling deal. I believe Democrats are not happy that Obama put Medicare and Social Security on the table, but Obama was sort of saved when the Republicans refused to trade dismantling part of the safety net for any tax cuts at all. But I have to say I have no idea what is going to happen with the debt ceiling.

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