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Unemployment Benefits Recipients Do More, Not less, to Look for Work

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Laura ClawsonHere’s a picture that’s worth a thousand words. Unemployed people who were receiving unemployment insurance benefits were more likely to have engaged in five out of six ways of looking for work, according to a study (PDF) by Carl Van Horn and Cliff Zukin of the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development.

UI_job_search-3

From August 2009 to August 2011, Van Horn and Zukin tracked a group of people who had been unemployed at some point between September 2008 and August 2009, surveying them repeatedly to find out whether they were still unemployed, whether and how they were looking for work, and whether they were receiving or had received unemployment benefits, among other things. They found that people were looking hard to find jobs:

In the month before the survey was conducted, 76% of these unemployed workers applied for a job with an employer, 68% scoured newspaper job advertisements, 66% examined online job boards, 59% contacted friends or family members about a job, and 57% sent an e-mail to a potential employer. Finally, 54% called a potential employer about a job. Six in ten unemployed workers reported that they had spent at least two hours looking for a job on three days of the previous seven-day week. One in four said they spent at least two hours looking for work on five days of the previous week. Despite their efforts to find employment, only 56% made it to a job interview. Of those who were interviewed for a job, the majority
had at least three or more interviews.

And, as the chart shows, people who received unemployment insurance were more, not less, likely to have called or sent an application or email to an employer, used an online job board, or looked at classified ads, while people who did not receive unemployment benefits were more likely to have contacted a friend or family member about a job. Add that to the pile of evidence weighing against Republican claims that jobless people are slackers and that unemployment benefits make people want to stay unemployed.

This blog originally appeared in Daily Kos Labor on December 14, 2011. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Laura Clawson is labor editor at Daily Kos. She has a PhD in sociology from Princeton University and has taught at Dartmouth College. From 2008 to 2011, she was senior writer at Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO.


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