17 December 2010

Get Employed Sooner

Contrary to Assemblyman Alex DeCroce's assertion that the unemployed are "gaming the system" by not taking jobs, I would offer that the majority of people receiving unemployment benefits are making valid economic decisions for themselves and their families.

Look at it this way - a person who has been out of work for more than a month or two has probably taken the kids out of daycare, started cutting his own lawn, saved a bunch of money on gas, tolls, and lunches, etc. And I haven't even hit on all of the other opportunity costs of having to get up to work your nine-to-five job - or the stress that comes with the daily grind.

In order to go back to his previous lifestyle, that person will need to find a job that pays significantly MORE than unemployment. The trick is to hit that sweet spot - and it's different for everyone.

If the goal is to prod people back to work, the New Jersey legislature should start by creating a system where the tipping point comes sooner rather than later - perhaps by reducing benefits over time, making an undesirable job at week five look like a great job by week fifteen. Only then will we be able to fix this mess.

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