October 27 2010

Women Want Jobs, Not Unemployment Checks

Carrie L. Lukas

IWF has already written about the recent NEC report on women and the economy (see here and here).   But here's one aspect of the report that hasn't been mentioned. In listing all of the ways that the Administration has been assisting women in the economy, the report highlights payments, such as unemployment benefits, that have gone to women. As the executive summary puts it:

In 2008 and 2009 women accounted for 40 percent of Unemployment Insurance recipients, making this program extremely important to the economic health of women and their families. From July 2008 to August 2010 about 6.9 million women were helped by the extensions of unemployment benefits.

Over $13.6 billion in economic recovery payments of $250 each were provided to seniors and veterans. A significant percentage of these payments have gone directly into the hands of women.

Certainly, the existence of unemployment benefits has benefited women who are out of work (and, if we are going with this logic, much of the 60 percent of unemployment benefits that went to men also benefited women since many men and women's finances are intertwined). And, in the world of Keynesian logic, their ability to spend this money and buy things has helped prop up businesses that might have otherwise failed.

Yet the pervasiveness of transfer payments like unemployment is hardly something for the Administration to brag about. In fact, the scope of unemployment benefits-with nearly 7 million women receiving payments-could also be understood as evidence of their economic policies' failure.

Women want jobs to be available, not unemployment checks. Sending out unemployment checks is at best band-aid economic policy. It would be much better for the Administration to focus on why it is that there is so much unemployment in the first place and try to bring down barriers to private sector job creation than to have to find ways to ameliorate the effects of joblessness.

Unfortunately, the Administration's policy prescription of choice for creating jobs (dumping federal government money into state and local government's and public work projects) has proven a bust. Time to try something new perhaps? This report suggests the Administration doesn't think so, but voters seem to have a different opinion.

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