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September 11, 2021

Thursday morning, the Labor Department reported that 310,000 Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week, the lowest number since the pandemic began.

Meanwhile, there is much wailing coming from the left over the fact that federal expanded unemployment benefits that were paying people more to stay home than to work have now expired. There are anguished cries of “What will people do to survive?!,” usually not followed by the suggestion that they take one of the 10 million job openings that are going unfilled.

To be clear: I don’t begrudge help to anyone who can’t work and really needs it. But it’s not the government’s job to keep paying able-bodied people to sit on their couches, which is driving small business owners out of business and saddling our grandchildren with unsustainable debt.

And while this won’t come as any surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention to economic numbers over the past few months, a new study confirms that states that ended the expanded unemployment benefits early enjoyed twice as much job growth as states that kept paying them.

The Mercatus Center researchers said these results are consistent with a long and extensive economic literature finding that higher unemployment benefits that essentially subsidize joblessness tend to discourage employment, whereas ending them “appears to motivate more workers to become employed.”

That conclusion would also be consistent with having at least two brain cells to rub together.

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