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Jobless Benefits May Have Delayed Hoosiers’ Job Search


Photo: Burt Lum (Flickr)

Legislators are debating the pros and cons of offering unemployment benefits.

Ball State economist Michael Hicks says national research suggests that, at the height of the recession, nearly 13,000 Hoosiers might have been putting off a job search because of the extended length of time unemployment benefits are available.

Hicks says the problem with the research, which is based off national data from economists at Princeton, is that it does not drill down geographically. The Ball State economist says it is likely not as serious in Indiana for a variety of reasons, including the specialized manufacturing nature of the workforce.

Still, Kokomo Republican Senator Jim Buck says it is an issue that deserves consideration.

“It’s definitely a concern to the employers because they’re paying the unemployment premium,” he says. “But while it was designed originally as a safety net, it’s become a platform.”

A possible solution is stricter state scrutiny over the types of jobs those on unemployment are applying for, so that, for instance, high school dropouts are not applying to be college professors just to say they’re looking for a job.

But Hicks says that carries its own issues.

“Those also have costs,” he says. “There are administrative costs associated with them.  It requires the state hiring more people or buying more software.”

Hicks says he cautions against changing the unemployment system too much in the wake of such a significant recession.

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