Most everyone agrees that social welfare programs like unemployment aid offer needed relief to those desperately searching for work in this tough economy. Since the debate over President Obama's recovery package ramped up 18 months ago, economists have also tried to emphasize just how effective this type of spending is at stimulating the economy more broadly. Too often, it's a point that is overlooked in the jobs debate nationally.
This week, the Economic Policy Institute crunched some numbers in an attempt to quantify the impact stimulus spending has had on job growth. According to their back-of-the-envelope calculation, the total expansion of the unemployment benefit system since 2007 -- including a $25 boost in benefits and the extension of COBRA subsidies to the unemployed -- has supported 1.7 million full-time positions that would not have existed absent the spending. Those jobs, of course, raise additional tax revenue that the government can use anyway it sees fit.
Deficit-wary senators should keep that figure in mind when they take another vote next week to extend the filing deadline for emergency unemployment benefits.