U.S. Unemployment Benefits Aren't The Best In The World

By Jack Gee Cutting back on benefits, the U.S. has slipped back several rungs on the ladder of worker protection, according to a study by the International Labor Organization (ILO). The U.S. ranks with Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, and Britain in providing a low level of jobless benefits compared with more generous countries such as the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. Roger Beattie, author of the ILO report, said it was "nave" to argue that an entrenched system of benefits burdens the economies of European countries. He added: "People who are well protected are far more willing to accept the challenge to jobs of globalization and of moves to liberalize trade." Juan Somavia, Geneva-based ILO's director-general, commented: "Countries [that] are reluctant to hand out benefits to their unemployed could eventually suffer a destructive backlash by workers." The U.S. and Canada replace about 58% of wages for the unemployed. That is substantially more than New Zealand's 23% but below Spain's 77%. However, 75% of the world's 150 million unemployed get no jobless benefits at all.

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