At the end of the month, federal unemployment benefits expire for two million Americans. These are the workers who have been jobless for more than six months, or an average of 40 weeks. They account for two-fifths of the unemployed, a share far in excess of the other recessions since World War II.
One argument for rejecting an extension of jobless benefits is to create an incentive to go back to work. Put aside that the number of unemployed greatly exceeds the jobs available. The jobless hardly are living easy on government checks. Less than half of the unemployed receive benefits. Fail to extend federal unemployment compensation, and the coverage drops to one in four.