Larry Elder

Economist Neumark, whom I recently interviewed on my radio show, examined the last 20 years of minimum wage research, over 100 papers. He said that "two-thirds" of the studies "show actual harm."

Second, unemployment benefits. Is it cruel not to extend them? Well, what if research shows that extending benefits simply prolongs the job search? What if studies show most unemployed people wait until their benefits are about to run out before they intensify their job search?

Recall professor and Obama economist Alan Krueger. Wrong on the minimum wage, he got it right on unemployment benefits. In 2008, he co-authored a study on unemployment benefits. Does extending them affect the initiative of those who are out of work?

Krueger said yes: "We find that time allocated to job search is inversely related to the maximum weekly benefit amount for (unemployment insurance) eligible workers. ... We also find that job search increases sharply in the weeks prior to benefit exhaustion." In short, Krueger found that the more generous the benefit, the longer the out-of-work remain out of work.

How about Lawrence Summers, former Treasury secretary under Bill Clinton and former Obama economics adviser? In 1999 he said: "(One) way government assistance programs contribute to long-term unemployment is by providing an incentive, and the means, not to work. ... Unemployment insurance and other social assistance programs (cause) an unemployed person to remain unemployed longer."

How about Larry Katz, the chief economist at the Labor Department during the Clinton administration? He argued that extending unemployment compensation benefits decreases the incentive to get out and look for a job. Workers, he insisted, are almost three times more successful in finding jobs when benefits are just about to run out.

Crowley wonders why an unemployed or minimum-wage worker would vote Republican. Well, jobs, for starters. The worst economic recovery in 80 years has given us millions of discouraged, dropped-out workers. The labor force participation rate -- the percent of American civilians 16 years and older, either working or actively looking for work -- has fallen from 66 percent in 2008 to 63 percent today, the lowest in more than 35 years. Add in the workers who simply gave up, and the current 7 percent unemployment rate rises to nearly 10 percent.

This explains why an unemployed or underemployed worker might, just might, think GOP. Jobs, jobs, jobs.


Larry Elder

Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit www.LarryElder.com.