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You Know Times Are Hard When Millionaires Are Collecting Unemployment Checks

I thought this was fascinating. Sure, they're entitled to the money - but I can't imagine an unemployment check being much help with the bills when you're in this income bracket: After the economy slipped into recession in 2008, millions of

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I thought this was fascinating. Sure, they're entitled to the money - but I can't imagine an unemployment check being much help with the bills when you're in this income bracket:

After the economy slipped into recession in 2008, millions of Americans received unemployment benefits to make ends meet -- including almost 3,000 millionaires.

According to U.S. Internal Revenue Service data, 2,840 households reporting at least $1 million in income on their tax returns that year also collected a total of $18.6 million in jobless aid. They included 806 taxpayers with incomes over $2 million and 17 with incomes in excess of $10 million. In all, multimillionaires reported receiving $5.2 million in jobless benefits.

Those numbers are a minuscule fraction of the 9.5 million taxpayers who reported receiving $43.7 billion from jobless benefits in 2008, up from 7.6 million recipients reporting $29.4 billion in benefits in 2007. Still, economists said they are surprised so many people with seven-figure incomes claimed benefits.

“It’s a larger number than I would have expected,” said Alan Viard, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington research organization. “But, people at any income level can lose their jobs.”

The first 26 weeks of unemployment benefits are paid by states. Nationally, benefits average about $300 per week. Because unemployment benefits are insurance, funded with taxes paid by employers, the program isn’t need-based like welfare. A millionaire who loses his or her job is entitled to benefits the same as a laid-off factory or restaurant worker, Viard said.

After the economy slipped into recession in 2008, millions of Americans received unemployment benefits to make ends meet -- including almost 3,000 millionaires.

According to U.S. Internal Revenue Service data, 2,840 households reporting at least $1 million in income on their tax returns that year also collected a total of $18.6 million in jobless aid. They included 806 taxpayers with incomes over $2 million and 17 with incomes in excess of $10 million. In all, multimillionaires reported receiving $5.2 million in jobless benefits.

Those numbers are a minuscule fraction of the 9.5 million taxpayers who reported receiving $43.7 billion from jobless benefits in 2008, up from 7.6 million recipients reporting $29.4 billion in benefits in 2007. Still, economists said they are surprised so many people with seven-figure incomes claimed benefits.

“It’s a larger number than I would have expected,” said Alan Viard, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington research organization. “But, people at any income level can lose their jobs.”

The first 26 weeks of unemployment benefits are paid by states. Nationally, benefits average about $300 per week. Because unemployment benefits are insurance, funded with taxes paid by employers, the program isn’t need-based like welfare. A millionaire who loses his or her job is entitled to benefits the same as a laid-off factory or restaurant worker, Viard said.

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