Thousands of Millionaires Collect Unemployment Benefits — Dollars and Sense
According to a study by the Congressional Research Service, roughly 2,360 millionaires collected unemployment insurance benefits in 2009. The study, titled “Receipt of Unemployment Insurance by Higher-Income Unemployed Workers,” determined that 2 percent of unemployment insurance claims received in 2009 were to millionaires, adding up to nearly $21 million in benefits.
“It sounds scandalous when you hear that millionaires are going to collect unemployment insurance,” said Bill Frenzel, guest scholar at the Brookings Institute and former Republican member of Congress. “On the other hand, millionaires get unemployed too and have made payments into the unemployment insurance.”
However, while some empathize with millionaires receiving unemployment benefits, others disagree with it completely. “Sending millionaires unemployment checks is a case study in out-of-control spending,” said Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. "Providing welfare to the wealthy undermines the program for those who need it most while burdening future generations with senseless debt."
Reports from Sen. Coburn’s office indicate that between 2005 and 2009, $74 million was paid to millionaires in the form of unemployment insurance benefits.
Senator Coburn recently introduced a bill titled “Ending Unemployment to Jobless Millionaires,” which seeks to disallow unemployment benefit disbursement for those reporting $1 million or more for the previous year.
The bill was introduced in 2011 and is currently in limbo within the House of Representatives.