Millionaires are raking in unemployment benefits

The very rich pocketed almost $30 million in jobless payments in 2010, a jump of 44% from only a year earlier.

By Aimee Picchi Apr 5, 2013 12:01PM

Image: Wealthy woman (© moodboard/Corbis)The very rich are a lot like the rest of us when it comes to losing a job: They receive unemployment benefits, just the same as a millworker or office assistant. 

What's startling about the trend is that the number of millionaires receiving unemployment benefits has skyrocketed, with nearly 3,200 households earning adjusted gross income of more than $1 million receiving jobless payments in 2010, according to Bloomberg.

That means the government shelled out $29.9 million in jobless benefits to million-dollar earners in 2010, according to Bloomberg, citing IRS data compiled by the media company (2010 is the latest year for which this data is available). 

That's a 44% jump from the previous year, when the government paid out $20.8 million in unemployment payments to the roughly 2,300 millionaires applying for aid, based on earlier figures published in a report from the Congressional Research Service.

The issue raises a few questions for all taxpayers, such as why unemployment benefits aren't means-tested and whether a culture of entitlement is pervading America, a popular criticism of Republicans and right-leaning citizens. 

"So many people are taking advantage of government support that they probably feel like, why shouldn't they take advantage of it, too?" George Walper Jr., president of market research firm Spectrem Group, told Bloomberg. 

Several bills have been introduced that would limit unemployment benefits for workers with high incomes, according to the January Congressional Research Service report. Yet so far, the proposals haven't gone anywhere. 

Disadvantages to putting in place means-testing for unemployment benefits include complicating an already complex tax form, as well as for potential administrative costs to outpace the savings, the report noted. 

While the IRS doesn't release information about specific filers, 20% of the millionaires receiving jobless benefits are from New York, where the securities industry is based, Bloomberg points out. Wall Street firms such as JPMorgan Chase (JPM) cut about 32,000 jobs from January 2008 through 2012, raising the possibility that some of those $1 million earners are laid-off bankers or brokers. 

But it's unlikely that unemployment benefits will help an investment banker maintain his standard of living. 

After all, the typical millionaire household in New York received an average of $13,590 in unemployment benefits in 2010, according to Bloomberg. That's not even enough to pay for one semester of kindergarten at many Manhattan private schools.

Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi.

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Apr 5, 2013 1:12PM

Who ever pays into the system, should be able to benefit from the system...regardless of how wealthy you are.

Someone tell me why SELF-EMPLOYED people are not allowed unemployment benefits?  The self-employed pay double unemployment insurance [employee & employer], then why do they not get the benefit if needed?

Apr 5, 2013 12:51PM
Let's remember folks - where do unemployment benefits come from? They come from payments made by the business owners that pay into a fund. This author is under the false impression it comes from your taxes - WRONG!
Apr 5, 2013 1:47PM
Don't matter how much money you got/saved from working!  if you are fired you get benifits! End of story!  now what pisses me off is the illegals who cross the border and get benifits, food stamps, welfare, etc etc etc never worked legally here!
Apr 5, 2013 1:15PM
while i have a net worth of > a million i worked extremely hard x 40+ yeras. being laid off last year was tough. we put (2) kids thru college, have a wife who works at a great job.  we also saved whatever and whenever we could over 33 years to obtain our nest egg. that said, $$$ paid out by me between taxes, ssi and employers matches over the years have added up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. getting $660 per week before taxes x 72 weeks is not raping the system.

They pay into it just like the rest of us and therefore are entitled to it.


To the comments below:

Hey Someone, we do pay into unemployment, that cost is passed on to the consumer, we are that consumer, so indirectly, yes, we do pay and so I am right.  Just read omgitsmike's response.


Apr 5, 2013 12:41PM
Hey, it is INSURANCE...  Pay the claim.  wealth plays no part in a policy payout.

Maybe democrats should stop calling their welfare programs "Insurance"...  

We have a 70% increase in food stamps since Obama, a 125% increase in disability, a decrease of 8 million people working....

We have the 47% leech class not paying any Federal Income taxes...

Welcome to Obama's socialism....
Apr 5, 2013 2:05PM
Unbelievable some of the stuff I am reading here. If you paid insurance on your house and your house burns down you people think that the insurance shouldn't pay because of how much a person has in the bank?   What kind of communist, socialist idiot expects someone to not collect from an insurance system (required by law no less), unemployment insurance; if they find themselves unemployed? If you can't collect then you shouldn't have to pay in. Has common sense left people in this country completely?
Apr 5, 2013 1:30PM
They paid for the benefits. They should receive them.
Apr 5, 2013 12:55PM

leave it alone---they pay taxes---they should get benefits.

the 261 dollars per week is the max pay anyone gets----but it goes up or down a few dollars depending where you live. The amount of taxes millionaires pay over a lifetime is probably bigger than my and your paychecks combined.

Well if they paid there taxes they also have a right to get un-employment checks and that's that
Apr 5, 2013 2:00PM
They paid in to the system, and there's no logical reason they shouldn't be allowed to reap the benefits. Makes a helluva lot more sense than providing bundles of freebies for those whose sole career is based on "entitlement" collection.
Apr 5, 2013 12:56PM
LETS SEE they have control of your money  threw  401k they are feeding  you . they will have control of your medical  shortly  they want your  guns  and they. want your religion  does anybody see a pattern  here  its  called socialism.  keep voting  for  democrats  and you get  what  you  voted  for   complete government  control. enjoy or start voting  out the  old  and voting  in the  new  starting  in 2014  both  parties.  read up  on these  people  and  vote  for  how  they talk  and  walk  not for which  party  they  resent
Apr 5, 2013 1:57PM
Unemployment benefits are meant to help cover expenses when unanticipated lack of work occurs. I suspect the majority of high earners who take these payments have contributed more than their fair share to support this system while they were EARNING their wealth.
Apr 5, 2013 1:13PM
I can understand that if someone has net worth of over a million, but no current income, then he/she should get unemployment benefits because they paid for it just like anybody else.  But how do you get approved for unemployment benefits if you're still pulling in over a million dollars a year (as the second paragraph states)?  Is that a misstatement? 
Apr 5, 2013 12:57PM
More proof, despite what they say, the Democrats also do not want to close the loopholes that help the rich. Democrat or Republican, it does not matter, they all protect the people who write the big campaign donation checks.
Apr 5, 2013 1:46PM
When I got unemployment they took into account my vacation pay, severance and what ever money I had in the bank  and I Could NOT get full benifits because of that money I had recieved. So if millionaires have money in the bank how do they get unenployment benifits? That doesn't seem right.
Apr 5, 2013 2:55PM
This is a stupid article and the author is trying to "bash the rich" which seems popular. But she obviously doesn't realize that they pay into the unemployment system like everyone else so why shouldn't they get to use it when they are unemployed? Stupid article, stupid author, and I was stupid enough to read it.
Apr 5, 2013 2:15PM
It shocks me how many people on this thread don't understand that you pay into unemployment insurance funds with every paycheck you get. It works the same way as any other insurance... you pay a "premium" (in this case, through taxes) and when you suffer an injury (in this case, becoming unemployed) you are entitled to a benefit. I'm sure no one complains when the rich pay into the fund, so no one should complain when they get the benefits. Also, there's a fairly low cap on how much anyone pays and on how much anyone can get. 
Apr 5, 2013 12:30PM


Apr 5, 2013 1:31PM
There is no cheese that is quite as good as the free government cheese. 
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