Keep up with the news by installing RT’s extension for . Never miss a story with this clean and simple app that delivers the latest headlines to you.

 

Recession saw US millionaires claim millions in unemployment

Published time: April 06, 2013 03:43
AFP Photo / Scott Olson

AFP Photo / Scott Olson

Poring through IRS data can uncover some interesting statistics, apparently, as reports show that in the midst of the economic downturn, $80 million in unemployment benefits have been doled out to American millionaire households.

Some 3,200 households reporting an adjusted gross income of over $1 million collected jobless assistance payments averaging $12,600, for an overall record $29.9 million, in 2010. The real question is, of course, how is it even possible for such households to qualify for the benefits?

According to Bloomberg, in a 2011 bid to prevent millionaires from cashing in on unemployment, the House of Representatives included a 100 per cent tax for unemployment benefits for single filers with incomes over $1 million, and married filers with incomes of over $2 million.

That provision was not included in the final bill signed by President Obama, nor was there any other attempt to reconcile unemployment benefits for million-plus earners and taxation on those benefits.

Heidi Shierholz, an economist with the Washington-based Economic Policy Institute, claimed to Bloomberg that overall, the unemployment benefits system is still sound, as 68 per cent of payments went to households earning under $50,000.

And it may come as a relief, Gary Burtless of the Brookings Institution points out, that the aggregate number of millionaires who collected in September of 2010, the year unemployment peaked, make up just 0.035 per cent of the 9.2. million Americans on unemployment.

Still, the concept of such high-earning households - and, accordingly, households with greater savings and assets - collecting benefits from a government fund as strained as unemployment insurance might strike some as an issue stinging the '99%' of Americans.

It was not long ago, in 2008, when an emergency unemployment measure was enacted to cope with the long-term jobless - that meaning Americans who had been unemployed for at least 26 weeks. As Bloomberg points out, that program was amended some 11 times, with many jobless Americans collecting for as many as 99 weeks.

So, should there be a measure enacted to prevent the country's highest earners from taking advantage of the unemployment insurance system? States distribute these funds based on payroll taxes, so in that technical sense even a millionaire household is as entitled to payments as any other American household.

But the issue many critics of the current unemployment system point to is the program’s inability to account for other criteria, such as household savings, and perhaps even existing household debt prior to a loss of employment. An equitable, and more importantly sustainable financial net should be able to discern real need.

Comments (13)

Anonymous user 09.04.2013 01:56

You see people in bentleys shopping their ebts. America is a welfare paradise to those gamers

Anonymous user 08.04.2013 21:25

They should qualify. They made millions and moved their assets out of the country.

 

Bob Foster 08.04.2013 15:37

I think both Soc. Sec and Unemployment compensation should have a threshhold..

View all comments (13)
Add comment

Authorization required for adding comments

Register or

Name

Password

Show password

Register

or Register

Request a new password

Send

or Register

To complete a registration check
your Email:

OK

or Register

A password has been sent to your email address

Edit profile

X

Name

New password

Retype new password

Current password

Save

Cancel

Follow us

Follow us