Among one of the more misguided notions in the debate over unemployment insurance is that any job is a good job and unemployed workers should take what they can get. Not surprisingly, this isn’t only bad for workers but the economy as well particularly when there aren’t enough jobs to go around.
As part of the unemployment insurance changes that went into effect in July 2013, a new definition of “suitable work” was established. By this definition, after 10 weeks of receiving unemployment insurance, someone would have to take any job that they are offered that pays 120 percent of their weekly unemployment insurance payment. If they didn’t they would lose unemployment insurance.
Of course, in a labor market where there are 3 unemployed workers for every job opening, the chances of getting a job offer are slim. And the reality is that many of the jobs that are being created pay less than the jobs that were lost.
So what does this “suitable work” provision mean to workers? A jobless worker who is receiving the average weekly benefit amount of $245 would have to take any job that pays $15,288 a year. That is well below the poverty threshold for a family of four and a quarter of what it actually takes to make ends meet in our state. A jobless worker at the maximum benefit amount of $350 would make $21,840, still below the poverty threshold for a family of four. Read More