The Republican candidate for governor in Pennsylvania says that extended unemployment benefits discourage the jobless from looking for work.
"The jobs are there, but if we keep extending unemployment, people are just going to sit there," Pennsylvania attorney general Tom Corbett told radio reporter Scott Detrow last week. "I've literally had construction companies tell me, 'I can't get people to come back to work until -- they say, 'We'll come back when unemployment runs out.'"
This week Corbett said he "didn't mean it to be insensitive."
Corbett joins the ranks of GOP candidates Rand Paul in Kentucky and Sharron Angle in Nevada, not to mention several members of Congress -- including Democrats -- who suspect the jobless of preferring not to work.
Like the others, Corbett said business owners have told him they've had hiring trouble because potential workers prefer to collect unemployment checks. Also, like the others, Corbett declined to name the businesses.
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There are currently five people looking for work for every job opening, according to the Department of Labor, and only 67 percent of the nearly 15 million unemployed receive benefits in the first place. For all the anecdotes about business owners having hiring trouble, there are job ads flatly stating that the unemployed need not apply. But suspicion of the unemployed, coupled with wariness of the deficit, has led to an epic holdup in Congress over reauthorizing benefits for people who've been jobless for six months or longer. The benefits lapsed at the end of May, causing some 2.1 million so far to miss checks.