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Portfolio > Economy & Markets > Fixed Income

‘Hey, Buddy, Can You Spare a Million Dollars?’

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Well, this is rich. After the economy slipped into recession in 2008, almost 3,000 millionaires received unemployment benefits to make ends meet.

Bloombergreports that 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.

According to the news service, 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.

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. As Bloomberg notes, a millionaire who loses his or her job is entitled to benefits the same as a laid-off factory or restaurant worker.


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