The Congressional Research Service (CRS), a group that works exclusively for the U.S. Congress, issued a report with one of the greatest titles I’ve ever seen on a government document:

Receipt of Unemployment Insurance by Higher-Income Unemployed Workers (“Millionaires”)

Now the first nine words are nothing special, typical policy-wonk speak. But whoever added in the word “millionaires” with scare quotes and parentheses is a genius. Most people would have been nodding off around the word “Insurance” but seeing millionaires (that’s such a quaint word nowadays) in the title makes you wake up and ask, “Wait, are they saying that millionaires got unemployment insurance?”

The answer: Yes. Yes they did. Millionaires have indeed been getting unemployment insurance. In fact, almost 3,000 of them in 2008 were on the dole:

Among tax filers with [adjusted gross income] of $1 million or more, 2,840 reported receipt of unemployment benefit income in 2008 and 2,362 tax filers reported receipt of unemployment benefit income in 2009. This represents 0.02% to 0.03% of all tax filers that reported receiving unemployment benefit income.

Admittedly, in the grand scheme of welfare programs 2,840 isn’t all that many people. But another 7.46 percent (816,669 tax-filers in 2008) took in between $100,000 and $200,000.

Keep in mind that this is based on adjusted gross income—income minus allowances for personal exemptions and itemized deductions. We’re not talking about farmers that made a million and then spent $990,000 paying for seed and farm equipment. This is the actual money you have left over after you’re accountant has worked her magic.

Because of layoff and cutbacks I’ve been unemployed twice since 2008. Neither time did it even occur to me that I should file for unemployment. I assumed (correctly, thank goodness) that I would soon find work. If I had been out of work for an extended period of time or had no savings then I would headed down to the Employment Office to take advantage of the safety net. But I believed at the time—and still do, for that matter—that unemployment insurance should be reserved for those in need.

I know it’s not popular to deny people a place at the public trough, but I’m going to take a bold stance and say that if you are in a household making $1 million a year you probably should turn down that unemployment check. In an era of political divisiveness, that should be one type of welfare reform that we can all agree on.

(Via: The Atlantic)

  • GRBW

    I certainly agree with your conclusion that millionaires should probably turn down unemployment insurance. However, since it’s not welfare, let’s go a step further. Since it’s insurance, the companies that choose to exempt themselves should probably not have to invest in (pay for) unemployment insurance on the behalf of millionaires.

    • Joe Carter

      ***However, since it’s not welfare, let’s go a step further. ***

      There was once a time when it was not welfare (at least not in the technical sense). But unemployment benefits have been extended past the point where they are covered by the insurance premiums. Now they are largely coming directly out of the pockets of the taxpayers.

  • The Sanity Inspector

    I have no idea what life is like on that level of the food chain, so I don’t know if this is fair or not.