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Image via Shutterstock

It is the latest research to contradict Senate Republicans’ reasoning against extending the $600 weekly supplement that expired last week.

Results of a new study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that bigger unemployment insurance (UI) benefits help workers find better jobs that are more suited to their education and experience. It is the latest research to contradict Senate Republicans’ reasoning against extending the $600 weekly supplement that expired last week.

“Longer UI benefit durations decrease the mismatch between workers’ educational attainments and the educational requirements of jobs,” wrote Ammar Farooq, Adriana D. Kugler and Umberto Muratori, the study’s authors. 

A stronger safety net allows people to find more compatible employment instead of jumping on the first job offer that comes along, which is better for the worker, the employer, and the economy overall. Researchers found this was especially true for white women, people of color, and younger people, all of whom traditionally have less access to credit than white men.

The paper also pointed out the trickle-down effects of extending unemployment insurance: Less experienced or lower educated workers may be able to get a job sooner rather than remain unemployed because those positions that may have been taken by more experienced or higher-educated employees are now available. “When a worker waits to get another job that is better suited to their skills, they turn down other jobs that may also be better suited for others in the same labor market,” the authors write. 

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Unemployment insurance is perhaps the biggest block in stimulus negotiations between congressional Democrats and the White House. The Republican-led Senate remains at loggerheads over a second unemployment benefits package after allowing the first one, passed in March, to expire last week. Critics argue that the extra $600 a week was more than many workers received in salary, therefore disincentivizing people from returning to work. However, studies have shown that the majority of employers have not had a problem rehiring workers. 

Senate GOP leaders proposed slashing the supplemental unemployment benefit to $200 a week, leaving several states experiencing large spikes in coronavirus cases to suffer the biggest reduction in unemployment benefits. Democrats want to continue providing the additional $600 through January.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signalled on Tuesday that he would be willing to reverse his position and support the $600 federal unemployment insurance boost, provided he had President Donald Trump’s blessing. 

“Wherever this thing settles between the president of the United States and his team, who has to sign it into law, and the Democrat, not insignificant minority in the Senate and majority in the House, is something I’m prepared to support,” McConnell said at his weekly press conference. “Even if I have some problems with certain parts of it.”