Enhanced Unemployment Benefits in Wisconsin and Disincentives

From WPR, “Top Wisconsin Republicans Call For Ending Enhanced Unemployment Benefits”:

Two of the Legislature’s top Republicans say they’ll pass a bill that would cut off federal unemployment insurance benefits that were added during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying they’re no longer needed and they’re making it harder for businesses to find workers.

This is an interesting assertion given the following (admittedly imprecisely measured) statistics:

Figure 1: Wisconsin employment (blue, left log scale), and unemployed (red, right scale), both seasonally adjusted. Source: BLS. 

Total unemployment has generally fallen, only rising slightly (2700) since February through April.

In addition new and continuing claims have fallen over the last four weeks (through file week ending 5/8):

Figure 2: Wisconsin initial unemployment claims (blue), continued claims (orange), by file week ended. Source: BLS.

Now it is possible that in the absence of enhanced unemployment benefits, unemployment claims would’ve been lower.  DWD Chief Economist Dennis Winters is skeptical that they have been important thus far.

Guo et al. (2021) conclude (nationwide, not Wisconsin specific):

In this report, we analyzed the impact that enhanced UI benefits had on the probability of employment during the COVID-19 pandemic. We found no evidence that the enhanced benefits influenced tge employment probability, and most replacement rate ratio groups had employment trends compared to the base period. We also found that individuals who would benefit the most from UI (higher RRR) faced lower unemployment rates compared to others. Additionally, this group re-entered the labor market faster than other groups, especially during the reopening period. These results are similar to our findings when incorporating the weekly and hourly wage controls. Lastly, we examined the effect of COVID-19 policies implemented in various states to measure their effect on the labor market. The observed policies generally decreased employment probabilities significantly. Moreover, we find
significant negative effects of these measures on the probability of employment prior to the CARES Act implementation. Along with the limited duration of the enhanced UI benefits and the difficulty of turning down a job in pandemic, our results suggest that many of these negative labor market dynamics preceding the increase in UI may have been overshadowing the possible effects of the CARES Act.



79 thoughts on “Enhanced Unemployment Benefits in Wisconsin and Disincentives

  1. pgl

    Something tells me that Princeton Steve is going to be all upset that Junjie Guo, Noah Williams,
    Arwa Alalwani, Zhi Jiang, Jiashun Pang, Stefan Smutny, and Linhua Zeng are not team players. After all Princeton Steve is fanning the flames that the enhanced unemployment benefits are the reason we are not back to full employment. After all – he is not going to get another invite to Fox and Friends if we take actual research seriously.

  2. pgl

    “Lack of access to reliable, affordable child care, the ongoing impacts of the pandemic on demand at restaurants and the fact that many folks in those industries had to shift to other work during the pandemic due to the impact on the restaurant industry are more important factors,” said the Main Street Alliance state manager Shawn Phetteplace.

    There are other reasons why people are not ditching their kids and rushing into the work place so they can get paid low wages and increase their chances of getting the virus? There may be other things we can do? Oh come on man stop with this fake news from the socialist agenda and follow the lead of Princeton Steve – chief economist for Fox and Friends. MAGA.

  3. SecondLook

    Framing the debate about the impact of unemployment benefits as an economic issue sidesteps what the motivations really are: a case of American Toryism in regards to how best to deal with the lower classes – particularly those of color.
    Alan Cranston once said, “We shouldn’t have In God We Trust as our official motto, but plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose…

    1. macroduck

      How dare an elected official in the U.S. spew forth foreign lingo. Dang elitist! And besides, he’s talking atheist talk. Stinkin’ libril!

  4. Ivan

    The interesting part is that we will get to test the right wing narrative that high benefits are the reason employers are not able to find employees and economies have not bounced back. There will be a lot of states cutting the enhanced benefits and a lot that are not saying no thanks to those federal dollars. Some of those states cutting benefits will use money on hiring bonuses.

    Facts from surveys suggests that there are a lot of potential workers who are blocked from taking work (lack of childcare, sick or taking care of sick spouses/relatives). Others are scared to go back – and only some of those can be forced to go back by taking their benefits away. So there will be a large number of people who when the benefits are cut simply will take a similar cut in weekly spending (or borrow money). It is doubtful that the positive effects on labor shortages (by forcing the relatively small number who can be forced back to work) will make a lot of difference on labor shortage. But it will have some marginal effect to help curtail wage pressures.

    So from a GDP point of view the red states will lose consumption from refusal of $300 per week federal dollars per unemployed person. They will also lose wage pressure and increased consumption from those low wage people who otherwise would have been enticed back to work with higher wages (rather than loss of benefits). Can anybody give me a theoretical framework for how the refusal of that $300 would be good for the economy of those states?

    I know the data on labor shortages and wage increases and GDP eventually will allow us to compare the outcomes of keeping or taking away those $300 per week. My predictions and rationales are given above. For those who will try to come up with twisted excuses to explain away the real world outcomes without changing their favorite narratives, please put those explanation up front now – so we can have a fact based discussion on where each of us failed.

    1. macroduck

      OK, I’ll have a go.

      The economic rationale for not accepting federal money to pay enhanced jobless benefits is the very same as for not accepting federal money for expanded medicare. Which is widely understood and does not require repetition here. Because everyone knows it. Already. So that’s why, OK?

  5. EConned

    It is an interesting with many suggesting expanded benefits are a factor in employees unable to find employers. I would like hunk that employers are assessing the marginal impact so Menzie’s line “This is an interesting assertion given the following (admittedly imprecisely measured) statistics” is very shortsighted. Also, Wisoncon’s LFPR is still low (yet increasing) and some would say this would matter as much, if not more, than Menzie’s selected statistics. I do recall that Altonji at Yale coauthored a paper recently supporting the findings from Guo et al. At the same time, researchers an NBER working paper from researchers at Chicago found “ 69% of UI-eligible unemployed have comprehensive replacement rates above 100% and the median comprehensive replacement rate is 134%”. As such, won’t employees think on the margin? I know I would. This research is far from over.

    1. EConned

      Geez I must stop typing on my phone. Hahaha Too many typos to correct. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    2. pgl

      “This is an interesting assertion given the following (admittedly imprecisely measured) statistics” is very shortsighted.

      Shortsighted? Oh yea – if the evidence does not support your right wing views – ignore the evidence. Got it!

      1. EConned

        Yes, shortsighted. I don’t know what you mean by “right wing views” – what have I ignored? I literally referenced other data of LFPR being down. Also, just because I cite other data doesn’t mean I disagree with the linked research. You’re acting like a clown.

        1. pgl

          “Also, just because I cite other data”

          Other data? You cherry pick a quote from a paper you cannot even bother to tell us what the title is or who wrote? Sorry dude – this sounds like a claim from a lying troll.

          1. EConned

            Seriously, instead of acting like an adult who is interested in discussing an issue and commenting “hey, that’s interesting. Do you mind providing a link to that reference” you act like this. If you want to act like a kid, you’ll be treated as such – and with that, you can find it yourself.

          2. pgl

            May 22, 2021 at 3:37 pm

            We have to ask pretty please for you to actually provide what your alleged source was??? Now you make think you are an adult but the kids in your sandbox are snickering at you.

    3. pgl

      “researchers an NBER working paper from researchers at Chicago”.

      These researchers have names. The paper has a title. I’m sure there is a link to this paper. Provide it if you want to be taken seriously. Or are you afraid we will get to read what they said in full?

          1. EConned

            No, the Saturday comment was for you to relax. Not an excuse for not citing anything. You lose. Again.

        1. pgl

          Proper citations is being disgruntled? Excuse me but you have to be the laziest excuse for an economist ever. Or maybe you are not an economist after all.

          1. EConned

            Disgruntled because your comments make you sound like a lazy, bitchy, and entitled sophomore. Also, lol at “proper citations”… you aren’t my professor – go get bent.

        2. Baffling

          Coming from the guy who cried about how the comment section makes it hard to have serious discussion. Econned you continue say one thing and do the other.

          1. pgl

            He is calling us lazy but he cannot be bothered to cite the name of the author, the title of the paper, or even a link. This troll is hanging himself with his whining.

          2. EConned

            Baffling… I fully admit that I am guilty of *continuing* the trend when it is present. I don’t think you can point to an instance of me *starting* such. There’s a difference, IMO.

          3. Baffling

            Econned, then you also seem to believe only you have the right to the final word.
            There is no difference whether you start or continue, that is simply rationalizing your behavior to justify committing the same act you just criticized.

    4. 2slugbaits

      EConned “ 69% of UI-eligible unemployed have comprehensive replacement rates above 100% and the median comprehensive replacement rate is 134%”. As such, won’t employees think on the margin?

      The problem is that it assumes people are simultaneously ultra-rational when it comes to thinking at the margin, but those same people are bumbling and completely myopic idiots who somehow fail to notice that the enhanced unemployment benefits will expire in September. Choosing to remain unemployed right now in order to get an extra $900 (at most) between now and September seems like a really bad trade-off. Anyone rational enough to engage in marginal analysis is surely smart enough to realize that the time to find a job is when the labor market is tight and employers are offering sign-on bonuses. The last thing you want to do is hold out until September when there is apt to be a far less advantageous labor market. Strike while the iron is hot. Is not working really worth $900 and the likely prospect of much crappier job choices in September? I don’t think so. A more likely explanation for the depressed labor force numbers is that people have good reasons for not being able to work. For example, within the 18-34 age group (i.e., young families) the number of men in the labor force is only 1.25% below its Feb 2020 peak; however, the number of women in that age group is still 3.89% below its Feb 2020 peak. That suggests that young women in childbearing years are unable to re-enter the workforce due to family responsibilities rather than laziness. Those women probably won’t be able to re-enter the workforce until their kids go back to school in…wait for it…September!!!, which is also the month that the enhanced benefits expire. Another reason for the depressed labor force number could be that COVID left us with a lot of “long haulers” who will never be as productive as they once were. I know people who were young and healthy adults before COVID, but having survived it they are now just a shell of their former selves.

      If inflation does ever become a problem, my guess is that it will be because the labor supply curve has suffered a permanent negative shock. Biden is counting on the labor supply curve rebounding. If Biden is right, then I don’t think we’ll see inflation. If he’s wrong, then we might.

        1. SecondLook

          I believe that for most states, there is a continuation of regular unemployment benefits along with the $300 weekly, until September.
          Of course, it’s not enough for most – although I haven’t recently seen any studies comparing prior incomes to current unemployment benefits across an earning spectrum that was based on hard numbers.
          It is possible that for some of the working poor that qualified, (using the 2018 figure of individual income below approx 13,000), their benefits are substantial enough for them to hold off as long as possible from reentering the job market. However, that is likely a marginal number.

          Regardless, this isn’t an employment issue as much as a morality play…

      1. pgl

        Do you know the paper he is citing? He refuses to tell us and personally I do not trust trolls like this.

        1. EConned

          “He refuses to tell us”. I refuse? Ahahahahahahahhahaah. No one has asked but because you made such a stink about it, I’m certainly not going to do the Google search on your behalf.

          You’re certainly one of the biggest children I’ve come across on this blog.

          1. pgl

            By now you classmates in the sandbox have just deserted you for being utterly worthless.

      2. Baffling

        Child care issues are a huge problem, and will not be rectified until kids return to school safely in September. It will be a tight labor market at least until then.

        1. EConned

          Here is Jason Furman, Melissa Kearney , and Wilson Powell III…
          “While school closures and ongoing childcare challenges have substantially burdened parents and children alike, they do not appear to be a meaningful driver of the slow employment recovery. This means that the factors responsible for the slow employment recovery and depressed labor supply are issues that are not exclusively related to the struggles of working parents, such as the continued concern about the threat of getting COVID-19 at work or expanded unemployment insurance benefits and eligibility.”

          1. baffling

            interesting report, but i think some of the outcome is a bit misleading. a lot of the report is arguing that unemployment was not exacerbated by parental burden. people were laid off whether they had kids or not. i do not think this is in dispute. much of the report revolves around year over year data from the first quarter. the issue of the recovery, and lack of workers, is really an issue from the second quarter going forward. they do not really have the data to support this going forward. this report is a good start, but premature. it needs to be revisited in december of this year, after we get results from the summer and fall. the problem is not who lost their job, the problem is who tried to get a job once the recovery began.

            i will also point out another deficiency in the report. it only counts parents in the analysis. this pandemic has impacted grandparents, aunts, uncles, and teenagers/twentysomthings who have had to pitch in and contribute to helping with child care, to various degrees.

          2. EConned

            baffling –
            I disagree with your assessment. It’s sensible to compare pre-pandemic labor market metrics with post-pandemic labor market metrics. It’s a way to assess how labor markets have performed during the recovery relative to a baseline. And, it’s clear that the core of the analysis is an assessment of how much childcare challenges have slowed the US jobs market recovery.

            Your comment “ the problem is not who lost their job, the problem is who tried to get a job once the recovery began.” again misses a crucial point. The argument that childcare is a primary driver hampering the recovery is largely without merit if those who need childcare weren’t the ones largely impacted by job losses. The authors aren’t asserting no impact – just that the data suggests it’s negligible to the explaining the bigger picture.

            Your comment “ it only counts parents in the analysis. this pandemic has impacted grandparents, aunts, uncles, and teenagers/twentysomthings who have had to pitch in and contribute to helping with child care, to various degrees” makes me think you’re new to research in the social sciences. Research data aren’t perfect and you have to work with what’s available. And, cherry-picking imperfections is easy from one’s sofa. Parents are impacted the most and this is a quality analysis that pokes a big hole in comments like “Child care issues are a huge problem, and will not be rectified until kids return to school safely in September. It will be a tight labor market at least until then.” from people like you. But then again, maybe if you contact Furman, et al. to suggest they conduct an RCT in a lab. 😉

            Overall it seems you may be misunderstanding the approaches used by Furman, et al. But, of course, you’re always welcome to publish a formal rebuttal and/or analyses.

          3. baffling

            “The argument that childcare is a primary driver hampering the recovery is largely without merit if those who need childcare weren’t the ones largely impacted by job losses.”
            but that is not what the report indicates. your argument would be true if the data said parents did not lose jobs. but that is not what the data said. parents did lose jobs. what you (and the authors) seem to be assuming is that the rehiring process is done in the same proportion to the unemployment process. what i ask is if there is evidence of this? and since we are still in the recovery phase, i don’t think the authors have data on this yet.
            “makes me think you’re new to research in the social sciences. Research data aren’t perfect and you have to work with what’s available. ”
            you are correct, i do not do social science research. but i understand data is not perfect. that said, if you produce research that will impact policy, you better make sure that your sample population and your policy population are similar, don’t you think? much of the complaints about lack of workers revolves around minimum wage workers. a lot of the people involved are from broken families and extended families. this may not be the dominant feature, but i would guess it is not insignificant. it was not addressed in the research, or if so i missed it.
            if you want to use this report to poke holes in the child care thesis, these are relevant issues which should have answers.
            anecdotally, i know several mothers who worked prior to the pandemic, and have chosen to remain home until fall. how many others are doing the same? and how many would need to do so to impact the labor market. it may take fewer than we actually think. that would be an interesting study to complete, don’ t you think?

          4. EConned

            baffling – I’m wondering if maybe you’re skimming the research. Please read it in its entirety. After, if you still come away not acknowledging that aggregate job losses aren’t explained by excess job losses among those most in need of childcare, I am at a complete loss. Also, please leave your anecdotes at the doors of Mar-a-Lago with the anti-vaxxers who note that the late great Henry Aaron died shortly after receiving his COVID vaccine. *insert eyeroll*

          5. EConned

            Also, I’d be remiss to point out that your comment
            “ your argument would be true if the data said parents did not lose jobs. but that is not what the data said. parents did lose jobs.”
            is a perfect case of obfuscation and twisting both my comments and those of the authors. It’s a truly sophomoric attempt at debate and has no place in serious discussion. Pair such comments with your anecdotes and I think I’m done with this ‘discussion’. Best of days to you!

          6. Baffling

            Econned, job losses are not the issue in the recovery. Its job gains today, and who is making them. You seem pretty sensitive to legitimate questions to the study.

  6. ltr


    January 4, 2018

    Unemployment rates in Wisconsin and Minnesota, 2007-2021

    (Indexed to 2007)


    January 4, 2020

    Unemployment rates in Wisconsin and Minnesota, 2021

    (Indexed to 2020)

    [ Unemployment rates in Wisconsin and Minnesota have fallen far faster in the wake of this recession than in the wake of the last recession. Unemployment insurance benefits would not seem to be meaningfully limiting job seeking. ]

  7. ltr


    May 16, 2021

    Unemployment Pay May Again Require a Job Search. Is It Too Soon?
    The requirement, eased because of the pandemic, is being reimposed. Some say it presents an undue hardship.
    By Sydney Ember

    A tenet of the American unemployment system has been that anyone collecting benefits, in good times and bad, must look for work.

    That quid pro quo changed early in the pandemic. Profound fears of contagion and the sudden need for millions of workers to become caregivers led states to lift the requirements for reasons both practical and compassionate.

    But as vaccinations increase and the economy revs back to life, more than half of all states have revived their work search requirements. Arkansas and Louisiana did so months ago in an effort to push workers off their swollen unemployment rolls. Others, like Vermont and Kentucky, have followed in the last few weeks.

    The rest may be on the way. President Biden on Monday ordered the Labor Department to “work with the remaining states, as health and safety conditions allow,” to put such requirements in place as the pandemic abates….

    1. pgl

      “Profound fears of contagion and the sudden need for millions of workers to become caregivers led states to lift the requirements for reasons both practical and compassionate.”

      I suspect most people get this. But not Princeton Pompous. You see – he is twisting the data to make a claim that people are abusing UI to cheat the system. I guess this is his new strategy to get an invite to Fox and Friends.

    2. ltr


      May 20, 2021

      As Paycheck Protection Program Runs Dry, Desperation Grows
      Overwhelmed lenders and panicking borrowers are in a frenzy to grab the remaining money in the small business relief program.
      By Stacy Cowley

      The government’s $788 billion relief effort for small businesses ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic, the Paycheck Protection Program, is ending as it began, with the initiative’s final days mired in chaos and confusion.

      Millions of applicants are seeking money from the scant handful of lenders still making the government-backed loans. Hundreds of thousands of people are stuck in limbo, waiting to find out if their approved loans — some of which have been stalled for months because of errors or glitches — will be funded. Lenders are overwhelmed, and borrowers are panicking.

      “Some of our lenders have been getting death threats,” said Toby Scammell, the chief executive of Womply, a loan facilitator that has nearly 1.6 million applications awaiting funding. “There’s a lot of angry, scared people who were really counting on this program and are afraid of being shut out.” More funding seems unlikely. Congress twice extended the program in December and March, anteing up nearly $300 billion total in new aid, but there is little indication that it will do so again.

      The relief program had been scheduled to keep taking applications until May 31. But two weeks ago, its manager, the Small Business Administration, announced that the program’s $292 billion in financing for forgivable loans this year had nearly run out and that it would immediately stop processing most new applications….

  8. Steven Kopits

    Wisconsin’s’ employment levels had been falling organically prior to the pandemic by about 18,000 per year. Do the math, and employment levels in April 2021 are just about where the trend would have taken it. Put another way, April employment levels in Wisconsin appear normal given pre-pandemic trend lines.

    By contrast, continuing unemployment claims are around 80,000, about three-quarters higher than the 45,000 we would have expected for the current level of employment. The somewhat curious interpretation is that UI is not encouraging unemployment; rather people who might not otherwise have been working are gaming the system to claim unemployment to which they otherwise would not have had a right.

    The other interesting interpretation is that the tightness in labor markets may not be transitory and is, in fact, not an artefact of current stimulus payments and unemployment benefits.

    In any event, there is no indication in the employment data to suggest that other than routine unemployment benefits are warranted.


    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      Steven Kopits: Peak to peak, Wisconsin employment had been growing 2846/year. NFP grew 10155/year. If you are looking at employment post 2018M03, you might think about how a trade intervention by the Trump administration (and associated dollar strength) might have affected matters.

      1. pgl

        Where Trump’s trade policies “organic”. What – that is not what Princeton Steve meant by that term but then again I doubt even he knows what “organic” means in this context.

      2. Steven Kopits

        Menzie –

        The data are insufficient to draw unambiguous conclusions about trends. Clearly, the employment situation after Jan. 2018 begins to deteriorate in Wisconsin, and employment turns negative yoy in May of that year. And then the numbers implode after March 2020, but perhaps pandemic factors were also partially influencing employment by Jan and Feb of that year.

        So what’s a ‘normal’ level of employment in Wisconsin today? I think a purely technical analysis does not yield an unequivocal answer. It’s probably between 2.98 – 2,99 million, but it could possibly be below 2.98.

        In any event, I think that a 3.9% unemployment rate suggests that extraordinary unemployment measures are not warranted.

        1. pgl

          “The data are insufficient to draw unambiguous conclusions about trends.”

          But you tried to do exactly that. OK – your interpretation was rather stupid but hey!

    2. pgl

      “Wisconsin’s’ employment levels had been falling organically prior to the pandemic by about 18,000 per year.”

      It is a good thing you provided the BLS given how incredibly imprecise your latest statement happened to be. From 2011 to 2017, Wisconsin employment rose considerably. Now yea – Trump’s stupid trade policies reversed that trend. I doubt Wisconsin farmers would be amused by your calling this “organics” whatever that dumb term was meant to convey. But do you really think Trump’s stupid trade policies will continue to lower employment? Seriously dude? Please learn to write coherently.

      1. Steven Kopits

        From May 2018, Wisconsin employment was falling every month on an year on year basis. This trend continued until April 2021, when of course the year-on-year comparisons are favorable.

        1. pgl

          Now you finally put a time line on it. Dollar appreciation and trade wars? Cone on dude – start THINKING for a change. Damn!

    3. pgl

      “The somewhat curious interpretation is that UI is not encouraging unemployment; rather people who might not otherwise have been working are gaming the system to claim unemployment to which they otherwise would not have had a right.”

      I’m sorry but this is word salad gibberish. Now maybe you have “evidence” that the employment to population ratio is where it should be (but of course your little evidence here misses a lot) so maybe you are saying there has been a surge in labor force participation rates so people who do not want jobs can game the UI system. But wait – the participation rate is actually lower than what it was pre-pandemic.

      So let me rename your word salad to a downright lie. Again – try learning how to write coherently. Damn!

    4. Dr. Dysmalist

      “continuing unemployment claims are around 80,000, about three-quarters higher than the 45,000 we would have expected for the current level of employment.”

      I don’t think you can compare pandemic unemployment enrollment to pre-pandemic enrollment. The federal legislation expanded the definition of unemployed to include gig workers and others who weren’t on a formal payroll. As far as I know (and I’m open to correction), these people would be considered part of the labor force and counted as employed, at least on the household survey, but they would never have been eligible for unemployment compensation pre-pandemic. Their inclusion during the pandemic shifted the unemployment compensation numbers upward. I think you’re comparing apples and oranges.

      They also will not be eligible once the $300/week ends, whether by their state opting out early or because the federal program ends in September. The unemployment rolls will shift downward as a result. Therefore, you will be able to compare pre- v. post-pandemic (or post-CARES Act), but the pandemic numbers are sui generis.

    5. macroduck

      “Organic” and “nothing in the data” are both simply rhetorical gimmicks. In the absence of a thoroughgoing review of changes in eligibility rules and in employment practices, the “organic” claim just babble. I see no such review. “Nothing in the data” amounts to a conclusion based on nothing. Well, based perhaps on squinting through the lens of partisan hackery. Just saying stuff doesn’t make it true.

      1. macroduck

        Continuing unemployment claims are up roughly 2 million from the pre-pandemic level. Non-farm employment is down roughly 8 million. The labor force is down roughly 3.5 million. That leaves about 2.5 million people who are looking for work but have not found jobs and are not receiving jobless benefits.

        So the increase in those receiving jobless benefits is smaller than departures from the labor market and smaller than the increase in the number of people looking for work but not receiving jobless benefits, but the problem with the labor market is that too many people are getting jobless benefits? Wow.

        Also, let us not ignore the fact that one goal of jobless benefits is to provide a counter-cyclical influence for the economy. With 8 million fewer people employed now than at the pre-pandemic peak, an objective person might see the need need for such an influence. A person wearing partisan blinders might, instead, see “nothing in the data”.

      2. Dr. Dysmalist

        Well, there is “nothing in the data” when you don’t even look at all of it but only the parts you think support your case. In other words, the usual.

  9. joseph

    Steven Kopits: “By contrast, continuing unemployment claims are around 80,000, about three-quarters higher than the 45,000 we would have expected for the current level of employment. The somewhat curious interpretation is that UI is not encouraging unemployment; rather people who might not otherwise have been working are gaming the system to claim unemployment to which they otherwise would not have had a right.”

    Kopits never fails to amaze me with twisted paths his brain can take.

    So his thesis is that these people gaming the system collecting unemployment benefits are those who would have been expected to have stopped working by now anyway. You see, they aren’t excess unemployed. They were just slightly prematurely unemployed by the pandemic who wouldn’t be working now anyway.

    This is analogous to his claim that hurricane victims are not excess deaths. They are just slighly premature deaths of old people who would have died anyway.

    1. pgl

      Stevie must not get that those collecting UI are counting as looking for work as in the fact that the labor force participation rate should be soaring under his fact free thesis. This rate however is below prepandemic levels. Yes Princeton Steve is citing BLS he has never understood.

    1. pgl

      Noise? Cleaning up the Census count? Meat packaging plants opening and then closing? OK – I clearly have no answer for that one!

  10. ltr


    May 22, 2021

    Yuan Longping, the father of hybrid rice

    CHANGSHA — Chinese scientist Yuan Longping, whose lifelong research helped feed the world’s most populous country and beyond, died of illness at 91 on Saturday.

    Yuan, a household name in China, is renowned for developing the first hybrid-rice strain to substantially raise yields. He passed away at a hospital in Changsha, capital of central China’s Hunan Province.

    Having spent over five decades in hybrid-rice research, the academician with the Chinese Academy of Engineering helped China work a great wonder — feeding nearly one-fifth of the world’s population with less than 9 percent of the world’s total arable land.

    The passing away of Yuan set off an outpouring of mourning, gratitude and remembrance among the Chinese public, transcending generational, professional and other differences. He garnered a high level of respect in the nation, where decades ago, people suffered from hunger and deprivation.

    Yuan was born in 1930 in Beijing. When he was young, he saw with his own eyes that people were not getting enough to eat.

    “I saw heartbreaking scenes of people starving to death on the road before 1949,” recalled Yuan.

    Yuan graduated from Southwest Agricultural College in 1953 and then devoted himself to agricultural education and research.

    Rice is one of the most important staple foods for Chinese. Yuan’s pioneering research on hybrid rice began in 1964, and after nine years of painstaking research and intensive testing, his team successfully cultivated the world’s first high-yield hybrid-rice strain in 1973.

    Hybrid rice was subsequently grown across the country and farmers reaped incredible output after switching to Yuan’s hybrid varieties. In the years that followed, his work set multiple world records for hybrid-rice yields.

    Hybrid rice recorded a yield about 20 percent higher than that of conventional rice strains. Now its annual accumulated planting area in China has exceeded 16 million hectares, or 57 percent of the total planting area of rice, helping feed an extra 80 million people a year.

    Last year, the third-generation hybrid rice developed by Yuan’s team achieved a yield of 911.7 kg per mu (about 13.7 tonnes per hectare) in an experiment in Hunan. Combined with an early-season rice yield of 619.06 kg per mu, the same plot achieved a total yield of 1,530.76 kg per mu in a year. The output is equivalent to 22.96 tonnes per hectare.

    “In a country with a large population and little arable land, the only way to ensure national food security is to increase the yield. So raising productivity is a constant theme in my research,” Yuan once said in an interview.

    His research not only helped end starvation in China, but has also transformed the world’s food situation, with new records constantly established.

    Since the 1980s, Yuan’s team has trained over 14,000 technicians in hybrid-rice plantation methods in more than 80 developing countries, providing a robust food source in areas with a high risk of famine.

    Now the annual plantation area of hybrid rice outside China has reached 8 million hectares, and the average yield per hectare is about 2 tonnes higher than that of local varieties.

    Globally, more than 820 million people were hungry in 2018, according to a UN report. If hybrid rice were planted in half of the world’s 147 million hectares of paddy fields, the additional yield alone could feed another 500 million people, Yuan once said.

    The focus of his research in recent years shifted to exploring sustainable methods for maintaining food security….

  11. ltr


    Dean Baker @DeanBaker13

    Fun fact for those claiming the $300 weekly unemployment insurance supplement is keeping people from working: The ratio of hires to opening is 75.7 in the South, compared to 74.0 for the country as a whole.


    Defying Critics, Biden and the Fed Insist the Economic Recovery Is on Track
    Confidence from the White House runs counter to warnings from Republicans, some investors and even a few liberal economists.

    8:02 AM · May 23, 2021

    Since wages are lower on average in the South, the $300 supplement is a larger share of the pay of a typical unemployed worker. Therefore if it is a major disincentive, we should expect hiring to be harder in the South, not easier.

  12. sammy

    In Oregon, a typical unemployment benefit is $400 per week. Add in the $300/week enhanced unemployment benefit you get $700/week or $17.50 per hour.
    If you are employed at $15/hr. you would earn $600 per week. So you can earn $700 a week staying at home, or $600 per week going to work for 40 hours.

    Which would you do?

    1. Baffling

      You are basically providing an argument for raising the minimum wage, because it is too low. Every boss who complains about the difficulty in finding workers while keeping wages low is simply unfit for the job. Inflation has been held in check by the minimum wage worker for three decades now. They are hardly the group who should be paying for this feat.

    2. pgl

      $15 an hour? Does everyone in your world work for slave wages. Here is something you might want to check out – the BLS provides both mean and median wages by occupation:


      At the time of this reporting average wages for a lot of professions was a lot better than the slave wages your buddies get. Heck the median wage for even religious workers exceeded $16.

    3. 2slugbaits

      sammy Easy choice. I would take the permanent $600/wk job and pass on the temporary $700/wk non-job. It’s a no brainer. Why? Lots of reasons. One reason is that those enhanced unemployment benefits will expire in September and if you aren’t working today you have no guarantee that you’ll be able to find a job after they expire. In fact, the likelihood of finding a good job decreases the longer you are unemployed. Don’t believe me? Read some of the empirical studies using duration or survival models. Those $400/wk regular unemployment benefits have a “sell by date” too. Also, it’s a lot easier to find a better job if you already have a job. And don’t forget that having a job means you’re paying into FICA, which will improve your retirement income. You would have to be extremely myopic and have a very high temporal discount rate to accept the $700/wk option. But then again, myopic is a pretty fair description of the typical MAGA supporter, so I shouldn’t be surprised that’s your preferred choice.

      1. Sammy

        Some people would make the same choice as you, but the possibility of a 4 month paid vacation at higher pay rate than you would going to work 40 hrs a week would certainly be a DISINCENTIVE for going back to work for many.

        1. baffling

          its really not an incentive for people who are actually interested in working long term. given the option of a 4 month paid vacation and nothing afterwards, or long term employment prospects, i have faith that most people will look at the long term prospects. sammy, you seem to have a very low opinion of people and their goals. you say this is a disincentive for going back to work for “many”. could you please give me, in percentage, what you mean by “many”?

  13. ltr


    May 23, 2021

    Nearly 500 mln COVID-19 vaccine doses administered across China

    BEIJING — More than 497.27 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines had been administered across China as of Saturday, the National Health Commission said Sunday.

    [ About 14 million vaccine doses are being administered daily, with 3 Chinese vaccines being used. ]

    1. ltr


      May 23, 2021

      As India Stumbles, One State Charts Its Own Covid Course
      Kerala uses tracking of patients and supplies, a network of health care workers and coronavirus “war rooms” to succeed where the national government has fallen short.
      By Shalini Venugopal Bhagat
      When India’s second coronavirus wave slammed the country last month, leaving many cities without enough doctors, nurses, hospital beds or lifesaving oxygen to cope, Sajeev V.B. got the help he needed.

      Local health workers quarantined Mr. Sajeev, a 52-year-old mechanic, at home and connected him with a doctor over the phone. When he grew sicker, they mustered an ambulance that took him to a public hospital with an available bed. Oxygen was plentiful. He left 12 days later and was not billed for his treatment.

      “I have no clue how the system works,” Mr. Sajeev said. “All that I did was to inform my local health worker when I tested positive. They took over everything from that point.”

      Mr. Sajeev’s experience had much to do with where he lives: a suburb of Kochi, a city in the southern Indian state of Kerala. Kerala officials have stepped in where India’s central government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has failed, in many ways, to provide relief for victims of the world’s worst coronavirus outbreak….

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