Should Unemployment Benefits Come with a Job Search Requirement?
I recently ran across an interesting story about what the Abbott Government—the federal executive Government of Australia—is doing with its work-for-the-dole program.
The story, “Job seekers to be forced to search for 40 jobs a month as Abbott government toughens obligations for unemployed,” is about just that. Beginning July 1, 2015, Australian job seekers will be required to look for 40 jobs per month and perform up to 25 hours of community service. These requirements are a part of the Government’s new, three-year, $5.1 billion job placement program.
As the story explains:
-Under the Abbott Government’s expanded work for the dole plans, unemployed people aged up to 49 will have to perform some work for jobless payments.
-Job seekers younger than 30 would have to work 25 hours a week under the expanded program, while those between 30 and 49 will be asked to do 15 hours’ work a week.
-Those aged 50-60 will undertake 15 hours a week of an approved activity, such as training.
In a story on couriermail.com, Assistant Employment Minister Luke Hartsuyker is quoted saying, “It is absolutely obvious that if you are sitting at home not looking for work, you are unlikely to get a job,” Mr Hartsuyker said. “What we want to do is motivate jobseekers to leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of a job.”
In America, the advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.9 percent for the week ending July 12, 2014. And the advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending July 12 was 2,500,000.
According to a CNN Money article, jobless Americans collected $434 billion in unemployment benefits from 2008-2011—with taxpayers footing $184.7 billion of the tab.
And a story by redalertpolitics.com references a 2014 Express Employment Professionals survey revealing that a large majority of Americans receiving unemployment insurance “become content over time living off of long-term benefits instead of finding a job.”
The survey of more than 1,500 adults (20 percent of whom received unemployment benefits) showed that 72 percent of polled adults receiving unemployment benefits “believe such compensation gives them a ‘cushion’ that allows them to ‘take their time in searching for a job.’”
The story explains:
Additionally, respondents receiving aid reported that they had more “freedom to not look for work for a while” the longer they were unemployed. Thirty-five percent of those on unemployment insurance and out of work between seven and 12 months said they enjoyed such freedom.
Sixty-two percent said receiving unemployment benefits has allowed them to “take time for myself.”
“They become dependent on government for their support instead of finding a job opportunity,” Bob Funk, chief executive officer of Express Employment Professionals, told Red Alert Politics.
Roughly half of those getting unemployment benefits agreed they “haven’t had to look for work as hard” thanks to the cushion those benefits provide.
We’ve all undoubtedly heard the debate around government assistance. Whether welfare or unemployment insurance, some have the tendency to view those receiving government help as “lazy” and “living off the system” while others view them as real people who need real assistance.
Filing for unemployment insurance has requirements that vary state-by-state. I know when one of my family members had lost her job in Ohio, she was required to list the number of jobs she had applied for during the week as she filed the claim. Yet, unlike the Abbott Government’s new policy, there was no set amount of jobs she had to apply for to receive assistance.
The Australian Government’s efforts seem to be an attempt to combat the effects detailed in the results of the Express Employment Professionals survey. That is, ensuring that those receiving unemployment benefits do not get too “comfortable” with the assistance but continue to vigorously apply for jobs and sharpen their skills through volunteer work.
Do you think America—or her states, rather—should adopt such a policy? Should unemployment insurance come with a job search and volunteer work requirement? Will “forcing” unemployed job seekers to constantly search for roles ensure they won’t be long-term unemployed, and therefore reduce the overall cost to taxpayers?