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Do Extended Unemployment Benefits Lengthen Unemployment Spells? Evidence from Recent Cycles in the U.S. Labor Market

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  • Henry S. Farber
  • Robert G. Valletta

Abstract

In response to the Great Recession, the availability of unemployment insurance (UI) benefits was extended to an unprecedented 99 weeks in many U.S. states in the 2009-2012 period. We use matched monthly data from the CPS to exploit variation in the timing and size of the UI benefit extensions across states to estimate the overall impact of these extensions on individual exit from unemployment, and we compare the estimated impact with that for the prior extension of benefits during the much milder downturn in the early 2000s. In both periods, we find a small but statistically significant reduction in the unemployment exit rate and a small increase in the expected duration of unemployment. The effects on exits and duration are primarily due to a reduction in exits from the labor force rather than to a decrease in exits to employment (the job finding rate). Although the overall effect of UI extensions on exit from unemployment is small, it implies a substantial effect of extended benefits on the steady-state share of unemployment in the cross-section that is long-term.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19048.

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Date of creation: May 2013
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19048

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  1. Poterba, James M & Summers, Lawrence H, 1995. "Unemployment Benefits and Labor Market Transitions: A Multinomial Logit Model with Errors in Classification," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 77(2), pages 207-16, May.
  2. Poterba, James M & Summers, Lawrence H, 1986. "Reporting Errors and Labor Market Dynamics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(6), pages 1319-38, November.
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Cited by:
  1. Kelly, Elish & McGuinness, Seamus & O'Connell, Philip J. & Haugh, David & Pandiella, Alberto González, 2013. "Transitions In and Out of Unemployment Among Young People in the Irish Recession," Papers WP466, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
  2. Maria E. Canon & Mingyu Chen & Elise A. Marifian, 2013. "Labor mismatch in the Great Recession: a review of indexes using recent U.S. data," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue May, pages 237-272.
  3. Pollak, Andreas, 2013. "Employment Insurance and the Business Cycle," MPRA Paper 49358, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. David Neumark & Patrick Button, 2013. "Did Age Discrimination Protections Help Older Workers Weather the Great Recession?," NBER Working Papers 19216, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Johannes F. Schmieder & Till M. von Wachter & Stefan Bender, 2013. "The Causal Effect of Unemployment Duration on Wages: Evidence from Unemployment Insurance Extensions," NBER Working Papers 19772, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Peter R. Mueser & Colleen M. Heflin, 2013. "Aid to Jobless Workers in Florida in the Face of the Great Recession: The Interaction of Unemployment Insurance and the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program," Working Papers 1318, Department of Economics, University of Missouri.
  7. Julien Albertini & Arthur Poirier, 2014. "Unemployment benefits extensions at the zero lower bound on nominal interest rate," SFB 649 Discussion Papers SFB649DP2014-019, Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.
  8. Machikita, Tomohiro & Kohara, Miki & Sasaki, Masaru, 2013. "The Effect of Extended Unemployment Benefit on the Job Finding Hazards: A Quasi-Experiment in Japan," IZA Discussion Papers 7559, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Dave Reifschneider & William Wascher & David Wilcox, 2013. "Aggregate supply in the United States: recent developments and implications for the conduct of monetary policy," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2013-77, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  10. Michelle L. Barnes & Fabià Gumbau-Brisa & Giovanni P. Olivei, 2013. "Cyclical versus secular: decomposing the recent decline in U.S. labor force participation," Public Policy Brief, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

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