Sara Gagne-Holmes of Maine Equal Justice Partners thinks that a proposal to extend emergency unemployment compensation for up to 99 weeks for yet another year is a good idea (“Maine Voices: Letting long-term unemployment benefits expire will cost even more jobs,” Dec. 27).

On the contrary, it’s time for this program to lapse. Extending unemployment benefits in a deep and prolonged recession is one thing, and is a policy most Americans support. Continuing to do so after the economy has been expanding for five years and the unemployment rate has declined significantly is a very different matter. By what criteria will the emergency ever end?

There is abundant evidence that constantly extending benefits simply prolongs unemployment. As a recent, rigorous study by economists Marcus Hagedorn, Fatih Karahan, Iourii Manovskii and Kurt Mitman puts it, “our estimates imply that unemployment benefit extensions account for most of the persistently high unemployment after the Great Recession.”

Ms. Gagne-Holmes’ contention that failure to extend benefits for another year would result in 675 lost jobs in Maine and 240,000 nationally is especially dubious, in part because it doesn’t account for the increase in employment that occurs whenever unemployment benefits are about to expire, or immediately after, because workers no longer have an incentive to hold out for the perfect job.

Instead of extending another welfare program, why not create job opportunities for low-skilled workers by waiving minimum-wage requirements for a year? Doing so would raise employment discernibly, and would do more for the economy than having the federal government borrow $25 billion a year for a program that discourages work.

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