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Gaming unemployment

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Extended federal unemployment benefits, set to run out June 2, aren't putting people to work. Left unchecked, they "help" those who are gaming the system.

Just ask some Michigan landscapers.

Nurseries have plenty of jobs but can't find workers, The Detroit News reports. Some prospective employees want to put off their start date until their benefits run out. Why get off the government's money train, right• Some insist on being paid in cash.

At $12 an hour on average, the difference in what a landscaper would make working (about $95 more per week after taxes) isn't enough incentive for some to give up the government dole. One former landscaper, unemployed for a year, says he'll look for work just as soon as his benefits expire.

Even he calls the extensions "crazy."

Notes David Littmann, senior economist for the free-market Mackinac Center for Public Policy, those federal checks -- for up to 99 weeks -- don't reduce unemployment but the incentive to find work.

It's no wonder Pennsylvania struggles to maintain its unemployment compensation fund when it's second only to California in what it pays out, according to the Commonwealth Foundation.

In all its incarnations and for all its "good intentions," government's welfare habit too easily becomes a lifeline for the listless.

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