Summers: ‘Completely Inappropriate’ to Have ‘Excessively Generous’ Unemployment Benefits That Pay More Than Working

During an interview aired on Friday’s edition of PBS’ “Firing Line,” economist Lawrence Summers argued that one reason for the job shortage is that we have “completely inappropriate” unemployment benefits “on excessively generous terms where we’re giving people more money for not working than they would have earned working.”

Summers said, “I think we’re having job shortages for a combination of reasons. Some people still feel unable to work given the risks associated with COVID, though that’s changing fast. Some people retired during the COVID period, and they’re just not going to come back to work. I think we made a decision that may have been appropriate when we first made it, but by now is completely inappropriate, to provide unemployment insurance on excessively generous terms where we’re giving people more money for not working than they would have earned working. I think that problem will tend to solve itself over the summer as states pull back their unemployment insurance programs and the thing ends in September.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

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