Tales from the unemployment line: barriers facing the long-term unemployed

People stand in line as they look for jobs at the Miami Dade College Mega Job Fair in North Miami, Florida on Mar. 3, 2009.

Article Highlights

  • It is typical for long-term unemployment to increase following a recession, but the current levels are unprecedented

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  • Many workers who have been out of work for an extended period of time may never fully regain their financial footing

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  • The consequences of long-term unemployment are particularly damaging to our economy and society

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Chairman Harkin, Ranking Member Enzi, and Members of the Committee, my name is Alex Brill, and I am a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Thank you for the opportunity to provide testimony on the important topic of the status of long-term unemployment in the United States.

Brill's testimony Tales from the Unemployment Line

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As my testimony will describe, the recent improvement in payrolls and the unemployment rate are welcome news, but the plight of the long-term unemployed in the United States is considerable. The policies that have been executed since mid-2008 to foster an economic recovery have failed to deliver measurable results, and those most hurt by the current downturn are often the long-term unemployed. In fact, some policy actions taken by Congress and the Administration have likely exacerbated the duration of unemployment for some workers, the consequences of which are significant fiscal, economic, and social costs.

After a description of the recent and current labor market situation, my testimony describes the social and economic costs of long-term unemployment, followed by a description of the repeated and costly federal expansion of the unemployment insurance benefits program. My testimony concludes with recommendations of changes to the unemployment insurance program and other fiscal policy reforms necessary to address this issue comprehensively.

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About the Author

 

Alex
Brill
  • Alex Brill is a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he studies the impact of tax policy on the US economy as well as the fiscal, economic, and political consequences of tax, budget, health care, retirement security, and trade policies. He also works on health care reform, pharmaceutical spending and drug innovation, and unemployment insurance reform. Brill is the author of a pro-growth proposal to reduce the corporate tax rate to 25 percent, and “The Real Tax Burden: More than Dollars and Cents” (2011), coauthored with Alan D. Viard. He has testified numerous times before Congress on tax policy, labor markets and unemployment insurance, Social Security reform, fiscal stimulus, the manufacturing sector, and biologic drug competition.

    Before joining AEI, Brill served as the policy director and chief economist of the House Ways and Means Committee. Previously, he served on the staff of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. He has also served on the staff of the President's Fiscal Commission (Simpson-Bowles) and the Republican Platform Committee (2008).

    Brill has an M.A. in mathematical finance from Boston University and a B.A. in economics from Tufts University.

  • Phone: 202-862-5931
    Email: alex.brill@aei.org
  • Assistant Info

    Name: Brittany Pineros
    Phone: 202-862-5926
    Email: brittany.pineros@aei.org

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