On the other hand, consider three other numbers: (1) the minimum wage, which was $5.15 until July 24, 2007, ratcheted up over the next two years until it reached its current figure of $7.25 in July 2009; (2) federal unemployment benefits are now extended to a maximum of 99 weeks, or nearly two years; and (3) the number of Americans on food stamps has increased 37% since January 2009. Couple these with the federal mortgage assistance available, where homeowners behind on their mortgages can refinance, lower payments, lower interest rates, etc., and what have you got? Simultaneously you have government programs which:
- reduce incentives for employers to hire new people (high minimum wage); and
- reduce incentives for the unemployed to accept new jobs, even at low wages (free food, help with housing, free money in unemployment insurance).
Funemployment! It's the new normal.