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Mnuchin: Take a job or get off unemployment

Secretary of the Treasury reiterated on Tuesday that the longstanding rules of unemployment eligibility still apply to those furloughed by COVID-19.

“If you offer a person a job … and that person does not take the job … then that person would not be allowed to get unemployment,” said Mnuchin.  

It’s hardly a revolutionary position—it’s the law. But it bears repeating.

Some now are making more money under the liberal definition of expanded unemployment benefits that passed in March than they would if working. The expansion was passed specifically to address the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“About 68% of unemployed workers who can collect unemployment will get benefits that top what they previously earned at work, University of Chicago economists Peter Ganong, Pascal Noel and Joseph Vavra wrote in a recent paper,” reports CBSNews.

That was a worry expressed by Republican Senators Tim Scott, Rick Scott, Ben Sasse and Lindsey Graham at the time of the passage of the COVID act.

The Democrats want to extend the benefits—set to expire at the end of July — until January.

Gary Cohn, former Director of the National Economic Council under Trump criticized the program and told people to go back to work.

“I’m confused why markets and others are surprised by the size of the weekly jobless claims. Unemployment pays more than going back to work for many. #PPP vs. unemployment is not a fair fight,” Cohn tweeted.

He also told Face the Nation: “If you get offered a job, you should have to take that job and you should come off of unemployment benefits.”

Indeed, in 2013, economists at the Federal Reserve studied the effects of unemployment benefit extensions under Obama as a result of the recession. They found “that benefit extensions raise equilibrium wages and lead to a sharp contraction in vacancy creation, employment and a rise in unemployment.”

As the libertarian think tank Cato noted at the time, those who voted for an extension of unemployment benefits did so in the mistaken belief that it would help stimulate the economy.  In fact, it just slowed job creation.

Unemployment is expected to as high as 25 percent before year-end.

Yahoo Finance tweeted: “In general, unemployment goes up the escalator and goes down the staircase,” fmr. Treasury Sec. @LHSummerssays. “So it will take some real time for us to recover from this, and my guess is we haven’t still yet hit bottom.”

That is correct. But the staircase will be shorter the quicker we stop unemployment incentives that stop job creation.

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