Senate Plans to Extend Jobless Benefits in Every State

The Senate announced a plan to extend unemployment benefits in every state by 14 weeks, and up to 20 weeks in states with high unemployment (more than 8.5 percent). We'll see if this passes, but it's much better than the earlier version of this bill, which would have only extended benefits in states with high unemployment. That was a rotten idea. As Barbara Kiviat from TIME wrote:


"a person living in Wenatchee, Washington would get an extra 13 weeks of benefits. The unemployment rate in Wenatchee is 5.9%. Meanwhile, a person living in McAllen, Texas, where the unemployment rate is 11.6%, would not get any additional benefits. That's because 8.9% of workers in Washington are unemployed, while 8.1% of those in Texas are"

She suggested that benefit extensions should perhaps go to counties with high unemployment rather than states, but obviously that runs in to the same problem of treating some unemployed people as more important than others. This Senate plan is a fairer idea, even if providing up to 20 additional weeks of benefits will be extremely costly.

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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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