Like other government hand-out programs, the unemployment insurance system suffers from a substantial fraud problem. The Washington Post reports that 90 D.C. city employees and 40 former employees are being investigated for grabbing UI benefits to which they were not entitled. The cost of this fraud has been about $800,000 since 2009.
Extending the extra unemployment insurance benefits would be bad for the federal budget and bad for the economy, and there is a better long-term solution for unemployment than the current UI system.
A recent report from the U.S. Postal Service’s inspector general found that workers’ compensation costs for postal employees are unnecessarily high. The reasons according to the audit are stale federal laws and bureaucratic ineptitude at the USPS and the Department of Labor.
The Wall Street Journal reports on rising state and federal unemployment taxes at a time when unemployment remains high. Keynesian economists keep telling us that unemployment benefits have a stimulative “multiplier effect” on the economy. Unfortunately, that sticky little problem of the government having to suck resources out of the economy to pay for this alleged stimulus keeps getting in the way:
The Washington Post reports on a Labor Department decision that applies pro-union Davis-Bacon rules to the CityCenter development in Washington D.C. The ruling could push up costs on the project by $20 million by forcing firms to pay artificially high wages.
It’s darkly comical that the same entity responsible for killing countless private sector jobs with its taxes and regulations operates job training programs. Cato has been documenting the failures of federal job training programs for decades, but “do something” policymakers in Washington refuse to accept the reality that they’re not the solution to problems that they help create.
Many of the laws covering today’s workforce were written more than seven decades ago during the New Deal. Collective bargaining and the unemployment insurance system, for example, were both established in 1935. Since then, the U.S. labor force and industrial structure have vastly changed, which creates an opportunity to update the laws to better suit the modern economy.
When government officials come up with what they claim to be a wonderful new idea, I often think of an old Saturday Night Live skit from 1990 poking fun at commercials for blue jeans. The skit’s scene is a group of middle-aged buddies getting ready to play basketball in their new “Bad Idea Jeans.” Each guy optimistically announces a plan to do something that is actually a “bad idea.” For example, a character says “I don’t know the guy but I’ve got two kidneys and he needs one, so I figured…” and “BAD IDEA” flashes across the screen. (The skit can be watched here.)
With the nation's unemployment rate still above 9 percent and a steady stream of worrisome labor news (the latest statistic: 429,000 new unemployment claims last week), federal policymakers are facing pressure to do something about joblessness. The giant 2009 stimulus bill was supposed to cut unemployment to less than 7 percent by now — but that clearly hasn't worked as planned.
The National Labor Relations Board is in the news for meddling in Boeing’s decision to build some aircraft in South Carolina rather than in Washington state. To most economists, the idea that a small regulatory board in D.C. should try to centrally plan $1 billion of private business investment is crackers.