You may have heard before about how there was a coming wave of unemployed Americans who would all lose their extended unemployment benefits en masse.
Well, it’s finally happening, as shown by Monday’s personal income data for September, which fell 0.1% rather than rose. Much more is to come.
And so what we’re seeing is the first big bulge of jobless workers exhausting their benefits. Over the next few months, that bulge will become a wave. Things will become significantly worse next month when existing benefits expire. By April, nearly 4 million jobless Americans will have run out of benefits.
Optimists will say that waves of unemployed will be now forced to become less picky about jobs and simply earn an income, which will bring down unemployment:
The Casey Mulligans of the world are likely ecstatic about this turn of events; the disappearance of a major disincentive to find new work has vanished, and so employment should rise rapidly between now and the spring. If all of the newly benefit-less workers find new jobs, the unemployment rate will drop a good two percentage points.
sceptics will say however that the unemployed haven’t been too picky, and that there just aren’t enough jobs, even low paying ones, to absorb them:
If most of those falling off the rolls of benefit recipients can’t find new jobs, then the demand impact of benefit exhaustion—the blow to consumption—will swamp the boost to the economy from the lucky few who are able to find work. The drag on personal consumption growth will slow recovery, making life hard for other jobseekers.
American austerity begins.