As mentioned here yesterday, and discussed widely in both print and televised media (Rachel Maddow and Hardball so far), Republican candidate for governor, Tom Corbett, is getting a lot of bad press. His remarks (can be heard here) that unemployed Pennsylvanians would rather take unemployment than find work, and that jobs are plentiful, have hit a nerve.
His Democratic opponent, Dan Onorato, has set up an online petition for people to ask Corbett to apologize. Onorato has also responded to Corbett saying:
“This is a fundamental difference between me and my opponent, and I don’t know what world Tom Corbett is living in,” Onorato said. “Our economy is struggling, families in Pennsylvania are hurting, and Harrisburg insiders like Tom Corbett aren’t doing anything to help them. Tom Corbett doesn’t even recognize there’s a problem, so it’s no surprise that he has no real plan to improve our economy or actually create the jobs that in his mind already exist.”
Steven Benen of the Washington Monthly writes:
Corbett not only seems confused about economic conditions, but his animosity about the jobless' attitudes is awful. Yes, I can appreciate the fact that an unemployed worker who's exhausted his/her benefits will be more desperate to take any job than an unemployed worker who's still receiving public aid. But this dynamic matters a whole lot more when there are plenty of job opportunities for those who want them. That's just not the current reality.
The Wall Street Journal recently ran a story on the general controversy over whether or not extending unemployment benefits affects job seeking. "Long recession ignites debate on jobless benefits," by Sara Murray (7/06) is detailed but provides a concise synopsis of research:
A 2000 study by David Card of the University of California at Berkeley and Phillip Levine of Wellesley College looked at a one-time 13-week extension of jobless benefits in New Jersey. It found that in normal times, such an extension added about one week to the duration of unemployment. If that study's formula was applied to the current recession, the typical spell of unemployment would be about 4.2 weeks longer than normal.
In times when jobs are scarce, Mr. Levine argues that any disincentive to work is minimal. A recent Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco study arrived at the same conclusion: Those who were eligible for unemployment benefits were out of work just 1.6 weeks longer than those who weren't receiving benefits.
It was brought home to me this morning when someone told me there were 180 responses to a job ad for an administrative assistant in their office. Some of those applying had law degrees or PhDs. That's a bad job market.