Americans Reluctant to Extend Unemployment Benefits to 99 Weeks, Open to 52 Weeks

At the end of December, Congress will determine whether to continue extending unemployment benefits beyond 26 weeks (about 6 months) to 99 weeks (about 23 months).

As of November 2011, national unemployment stood at 8.6 percent; nearly half have been unemployed for 27 weeks or more. (See BLS estimates for unemployment). States typically provide up to 26 weeks' worth of unemployment benefits, and the federal government has provided the extension up to 99 weeks. (For more discussion click here.)

The December 2011 Reason-Rupe poll asked 1,200 Americans on both landline and mobile phones how long they thought unemployment benefits should be. About a third of Americans prefer the states’ six month limit, and about another third believe it should extend seven months to 18 months. A little less than a quarter believe benefits should extend 99 weeks or more. In the sum, the majority (60 percent) reaches consensus at about one year or less. This means that Congress would probably get the most support for extending unemployment benefits to 52 weeks, rather than 99 weeks.

To better understand what Americans think about unemployment, the poll asked whether they thought those unemployed over a year were trying hard to find jobs but couldn’t, or if they could find jobs if they wanted to. Americans are divided, with 48 percent believing those unemployed over a year are trying hard to find jobs and 44 percent believing the unemployed could find jobs if they wanted to. 

When somebody loses their job, for how many months should they receive unemployment benefits? (OPEN-ENDED)


Find full Reason-Rupe Q4 2011 poll results, question wording, and methodology here.

The Reason-Rupe Q4 2011 poll collected a nationally representative sample of 1,200 respondents, aged 18 and older from all 50 states and the District of Columbia using live telephone interviews from December 1-13. Interviews were conducted on both landline and mobile phones. The margin of sampling error for this poll is +/- 3 percent.

Follow Emily Ekins on Twitter @emilyekins

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    The chart doesn't match the prose very well.

  • Y Szasz||

    But the carpet matches the drapes!

  • Auric Demonocles||

    No alt-text? And after I complimented you in the video. What nerve!

  • Paul||

    Ekins doesn't do alt-text. If you watch her video you'll see why she's so way above alt-text.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Ekins doesn't do alt-text.

    Who the fuck do you think I am?

  • Paul||

    Someone who likes him some alt-text?

  • Paul||

    Wait wait wait wait... the news (NPR) is all a-twitter about how employment is surging back. Green shoots and jobs from every limb!

    Everyone is hiring. Happy days are here again! The stimulus worked! The Stimulus dead-enders can suck it!

  • ||

    Does that mean I can stop worrying about getting curb stomped?

  • protefeed||

    Lowering the high unemployment rate by paying people to stay unemployed, while refusing to end a minimum wage which prohibits employers and employees from engaging in employment -- what could possibly go wrong with that fine plan?

  • ||

    Question here. My understanding is that (in the current bill) they are talking about extending "long term" unemployment benefits, which I take to mean to the same people who got such an extension last spring, and the year before that. I'm assuming this is supposed to be a temporary recession-fighting measure ... due to the supposed stimulus benefits of paying people who are out of work.

    Am I mixed up about something or is the current bill not about extending benefits to people who have already been unemployed for more than a year?

  • Paul||

    I'ts my understanding that they're trying to extend the extensions on previous unemployment benefit extensions.

  • ||

    Which they don't have to budget for because it's "temporary" and therefore will expire when the extension expires, right?

  • Grace Onderpresher||

    If someone loses their job and it's not their fault, they should be entitled to unemployment benefits as long as they are unemployed. We Americans take care of our own!

  • Gojira||

    C. Too simplistic, but I do give you credit for not going hysterical with hyperbole.

  • Grace Onderpresher||

    Curses, foiled again!

  • unemployed long time||

    That's me, the guy who won't -- shit, I mean can't -- find a job. So I head on down to the unemployment office and give 'em the Goodfellas routine.

    I can't get a job? Fuck you, pay me.

    I can't prove I've even been looking? Fuck you, pay me.

    It's been 2 years already, what the hell have I been doing other than surfing the web at Starbucks? Fuck you, pay me.

    The government is out of money? Fuck you, pay me.

  • Public Sector Union||

    The government is out of money? Fuck you, pay me.

    I agree!

  • ||

    Oh wow, very cool indeed. I liek the sounds of that.

  • ||

    Unemployment numbers are comprised of those that are in the job market for the past 30 days. It does not include those that have not been in the job market in the last 30 days: people who have given up looking; those that have gone off unemployment because it has run out. One solution to unemployment is High Speed Universities check it out

  • ||

    Many folks have paid in a lot more than they will ever receive,oh, btw nice job cursing,people !


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