Fox Thinks Earned Unemployment Benefits Create “Laziness” Among Jobseekers

Sandra Smith Thinks

Fox News accused jobseekers of “laziness,” hyping a survey showing more unemployed American workers becoming detached from the labor force while complaining that unemployment insurance has removed the motivation to take low-paying jobs.

On the May 22 edition of Fox News' Outnumbered, co-host Sandra Smith claimed that “part of the problem” with lingering unemployment in the United States is “laziness” on the part of unemployed workers. Smith claimed that choosing to collect unemployment insurance was evidence that potential jobseekers are “not incentivized” to accept positions that might they might refuse otherwise:

Smith used a survey from Express Employment Professionals as evidence of her claim that unemployment benefits breed “laziness,” but her statements distort the actual survey findings. While 47 percent of respondents did agree with the statement “I've completely given up on looking for a job,” they often cited the lack of available work as the reason for giving up hope. According to the survey results, “46 percent say there are no available jobs,” and one respondent even stated, “After searching for four years and being unsuccessful, I am tired of trying.”

Smith's implicit argument, that cutting unemployment benefits would urge workers to find new jobs, has already been disproven at the national level. In December 2013, the House of Representatives refused to pass a Senate extension of Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) for millions of Americans. More than 1.3 million Americans lost EUC benefits in the past several months. Of those, only 24 percent were currently employed as of March -- 49 percent remained engaged in unsuccessful job searches, and 26 percent had dropped entirely from the labor market.

Contrary to Smith's opinion, unemployment benefits are not keeping Americans out of the job market. A weak recovery -- held back by fiscal austerity -- is keeping Americans out of the job market.

Fox News has provided a safe haven for anti-safety net antagonists for years, and the network has a history of attacking unemployment benefits despite all evidence of their economic and social benefits.