Rasmussen finds much public skepticism over '99-ers'

A Friday Rasmussen poll of adults finds some skepticism of the temporary 99-week unemployment benefits regimen, which Congress is very likely to extend soon.

The result is a real head-scratcher — nearly half believe that such a long benefit period is counterproductive, yet at the same time half believe that 99 weeks of unemployment is either the correct length of time to or too short:

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that nearly half (49%) of adults, in fact, think providing unemployment benefits for 99 weeks increases the number of people who remain unemployed. Just 28% disagree, while another 23% are not sure. (To see survey questions, click here.)

Unemployed Americans are now eligible for up to 99 weeks of combined state and federal unemployment benefits because of emergency legislation passed by Congress. This legislation is now up for renewal.But 41% think 99 weeks for benefits is too long, while 16% say it’s too short a period. Thirty-four percent (34%) feel the benefits period is about right.

Perhaps one reason for the skepticism about the lengthy benefits arrangement is the finding that 58% of adults think it is possible for anyone with a college degree and willing to work to find a job within 99 weeks. Only 22% don’t think it’s possible for someone like that to find employment in a nearly two-year period. One-in-five (20%) are undecided.

Objections to the 99-week program are often presented as a straw man, as though it implies that the unemployed are lazy bums. A much more accurate formulation of this view is that with 99 weeks of unemployment benefits, the unemployed — especially those with more skills, better education, and a higher level of savings — can be a lot more picky about taking a job than this economy would otherwise warrant.

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