For the millions of Americans who’ve lost their job, especially young people, unemployment is no longer a transitional season but a pathway out of the workforce entirely. A new poll of unemployed Americans reveals the discouraging situation they face and sheds light on how government benefits dull the job search urgency.

According to a Harris Poll of 1,500 unemployed Americans this April, 47 percent have completely given up on looking for a job, although nearly all (91 percent) are hopeful of finding employment within the next six months. The reality and their hopes are very different as 46 percent of respondents reported not having had any job interviews in the prior month and 23 percent reported that their last interview was in 2012. In fact, 60 percent said looking for work has been harder than they expected.

How does government play a role? Lawmakers point to the importance of unemployment benefits as the compassionate way of helping workers as a transition between jobs. However, according to the respondents who actually receive them, unemployment benefits cause them to be more casual and take time in their job search. Four out of five Americans who receive benefits said that if their unemployment compensation were to run out prior to their finding a job, they would “search harder and wider for a job.” This raises issues about whether benefits should really be extended or allowed to run out.

The Weekly Standard reports:

The poll also shows that a significant percentage of the unemployed are not currently receiving jobless benefits. Only 20 percent said they were currently receiving unemployment compensation. But among those receiving government assistance, the poll suggests the aid may be diminishing their incentive to find employment:   

However, in a response that raises issues about whether unemployment compensation should be extended or allowed to run out, 82 percent of those receiving benefits said if their unemployment compensation were to run out prior to their finding a job, they would “search harder and wider for a job.” Only 18 percent say they would “be in such despair that I will give up looking for work altogether.”
48 percent agree that they “haven’t had to look for work as hard” thanks to unemployment compensation.

72 percent agree that compensation has been a “cushion” and 62 percent agree with the statement, “It has allowed me to take time for myself.”

The situation is especially difficult for young people as more than half of all unemployed are under 40 and one third are under the age of 30. Given that many young people have never had a real job, their career development may be stunted in its early ages. How long will it take for them to catch up to their peers? Or will they ever catch up?

When Americans who want to work are forced out of the economy, it hurts our overall productivity. Unemployment does create a great opportunity for self-starters to create work for themselves and start their own businesses, but that doesn’t happen without investment or savings.

The President and progressives are focused on stirring up class warfare, but what most Americans want is a job!

Employment provides financial security, independency, and self-worth. Americans don’t want or need more government handouts but a government that creates policies to promote economic growth in the private sector such as lower taxes and less burdensome government regulation.