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How long should federal unemployment benefits last?

Michigan Works How long should federal unemployment benefits last? Marketplace Radio had an interesting interview with Heather Boushey of the Center for American Progress. and James Sherk, an economist at the Heritage Foundation about the debate over how long to extend unemployment benefits.

Both agreed that extensions of federal unemployment benefits are necessary. "It's natural to have extensions above and beyond the normal six months. The question is just how much above and beyond is appropriate," Sherk said.

Sherk argued that extended UI benefits simply prolong the length of unemployment.

Those who are unemployed and have the UI benefits are more selective about the jobs they search for. They look for jobs that are more close to home and then when the benefits run out, they then take jobs in different industries or in different states. That's a cost.

Boushey countered that argument by citing the current employment situation in the country.

First and foremost, we're in an economy where there's more than five workers seeking

every new job opening available. So the idea that somehow if we cut off folks' benefits or give them fewer weeks that they would just magically find jobs, even if they moved, is really just a fallacy.

The long-term unemployed who have are exhausted or are about to exhaust their unemployment benefits are lobbying Congress for additional weeks of unemployment benefits. but so far no legislation extending federal benefits beyond the current Tier IV has been introduced.

Meanwhile, Congress has yet to move on reconciling the legislation that would extend eligibility for federal unemployment benefits until the end of the year. That eligibility is set to expire June 2. If that deadline isn't extended, there will be many unemployed Americans who won't qualify for federal benefits at all.

Where do you stand on this issue? Would you prefer that Congress add additional weeks of unemployment benefits, extend eligibility for federal benefits until the end of the year or allow eligibility for federal unemployment benefits to lapse on June 2?

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