PLEDGE NOW
Downscale Work and the Unemployed
The harsh new American debate over unemployment benefits. Should the unemployed just grab a shovel? Dig a ditch? Are those jobs even there?

Members of a road maintenance crew try to control a grass fire near Lincoln, Neb., using their shirts and boots, July 17, 2007. Dry conditions and 99 degree temperatures contributed to the fire. (AP)

Americans in huge numbers are out of work. Many for a long time. Now, unemployment benefits for the longest unemployed are running out.

Congress hasn’t extended the support. Republicans say no extension unless the new round is paid for now.

Some Republicans and tea partiers say the unemployment benefits themselves are a bad idea. That the unemployed won’t dig ditches – won’t take whatever job is out there – if they’re getting a government check.

With five unemployed Americans for every available job, that’s a hard line.

This Hour, On Point: When unemployment runs out.

– Bob Oakes

Guests:

Barry Bluestone, labor economist and Dean of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University. He is also founding director of the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern.

James Sherk, labor economist and senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation.

Katherine Newman, professor of sociology at Princeton University. She is author of “The Missing Class: Portraits of the Near Poor in America” and “Chutes and Ladders: Navigating the Low Wage Labor Market.”

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