How Long Should We Keep Bribing People Not to Work?

Job seekers at a job fair in Uniondale, N.Y., in 2014 (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)
A $600 boost to unemployment benefits was a clumsy solution to a stupid problem, and it cannot continue once we reopen.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE T hree Republican senators raised an alarm in late March: Congress’s multi-trillion-dollar coronavirus bill would boost unemployment benefits by $600 a week — such a large amount that many people would make more if they were laid off than they would if they continued working.

It turned out there was a stupid, embarrassing backstory behind this provision. States administer unemployment benefits using antiquated computer systems, and they couldn’t process a new benefit formula that was even mildly complicated. If lawmakers wanted to hike unemployment benefits during the worst part of the crisis — a time when government policy was deliberately idling much

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