Friday, October 24, 2014

Does one size fit all? Not on unemployment benefits

4/4/2013

In theory, a bill that would shrink the period to collect unemployment benefits from 26 weeks to as low as 16 weeks seems to be forward-thinking and worthwhile. The bill, which passed the Kansas Senate last week, would use a sliding scale based on the state’s unemployment rate to determine how long benefits would last.

Kansans now are eligible for 26 weeks of unemployment benefits. Under the proposal, starting in 2014, a person would be eligible for up to 16 weeks of benefits if the statewide jobless rate was under 4.5 percent, for 20 weeks of benefits if the jobless rate ranged from 4.5 to 6 percent, and 26 weeks only if the unemployment rate stood at 6 percent or higher.

The thinking is that the lower the jobless rate, the easier it should be to get a job. And that seems to make sense — at least on the surface.

The problem is that not all jobs are as easy to replace. Someone in a specialized field could require months to find another position in that industry.

And not all localities are equal. For example, a low jobless rate in Johnson County makes for a different environment than a high rate in Reno County. A person looking for work - any kind of work — in Hutchinson might struggle to find a job here, but because the economy is more prosperous elsewhere, that person’s clock would be ticking to find a job before the benefits run out.

In theory, this bill was a good idea, until you look closer and surmise that it is a cookie-cutter approach to this issue. It ignores the circumstances and pays little attention to the needs of the people.

Unfortunately, this type of legislation does little to meet the needs of the masses. When it comes to unemployment benefits in this state, one size does not fit all.

— The Hutchinson News

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