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Millionaires in MA Are Collecting Unemployment Benefits

Saturday, May 24, 2014

 

Federal tax data shows that millionaires and other high income earners have been collecting tax benefits just like the rest of the world.

For the most recent year available, 2011, the IRS reports that 189 millionaires had received unemployment benefits, accounting for $2.4 million. 49,302 people who had made $100,000 or more in the same year accounted for $532.6 million in unemployment benefits, accounting for 15-percent of all unemployment cases.

“Unemployment insurance is not an entitlement program so earnings, race, gender, etc. are not factors for eligibility,” said Ann Dufresne, the Communications Director for the Massachusetts Department of Labor and Workforce Development. “Anyone who has lost their job through no fault of their own can apply for unemployment benefits.”

Overall, 325,909 unemployment returns were filed in 2011 totaling almost $3 billion in unemployment benefits.

Millionaires vs. Working Class

Carpentry is one of the many professions that can be affected by unemployment, especially in New England. Seasonal weather trends make the winter months hard for carpenters to find work, leading many to hit the unemployment office.

According to James Turner, a business representative for the Worcester Local #107 branch of the Carpenters Union, around a quarter of carpenters are currently unemployed, which is quite a high number for a singular profession.  

While carpenters are certainly not millionaires – Turner says that if a carpenter works 50 weeks out of the year, which is a rarity, they average $70,000 per year – he certainly understands why millionaires who properly pay their taxes would be eligible to claim unemployment benefits.

“I think that if you are employed and if all of your filings are correct, then you should be entitled to unemployment,” said Turner. “I don’t think that someone with $1 million needs unemployment, but I support their right to it.”

Turner thinks that someone who makes $1 million shouldn’t claim unemployment benefits; after all if someone is making that kind of money, they should be able to save some away for tough times like losing a job. And while attention may be called to millionaires claiming unemployment, Turner questions the wage gap between that of a worker and a CEO.

“I wouldn’t want to deny anyone their rightful due,” said Turner. “I think the only people that would make that kind of money would be CEO’s and other people who would probably be on a salary. The reality is that the CEO versus the worker salary is grossly out of whack.”

Unemployment Benefits: Colorblind

The Department of Labor and Workforce Development says that people are not turned away from receiving unemployment benefits because the process is colorblind; the state does not judge applicants on any other factor than their current financial needs.

Dufresne says that millionaires who lose their job and are in need of financial assistance can be covered by unemployment in the same ways that the common worker would be. The only difference is that a millionaire may not see that same percentage that another worker may see because there is a cutoff amount.

“Pensions and severance may be looked at in making a determination on whether someone is eligible for unemployment or whether there will be offsets against the total amount of weekly benefits,” said Dufresne. “Keep in mind benefits are capped at $674 a week.”

Those Who Pay Should Reap the Benefits

Millionaires certainly have their fair share of money, which angers some people when they realize that they have been claiming unemployment benefits.

Surprisingly enough, some advocates who work with the working class are in support of millionaires claiming these benefits.

“I think that anyone who works should be able to collect unemployment benefits,” said Russ Davis, the Executive Director of Massachusetts Jobs with Justice. “We want millionaires paying into unemployment because then everyone can benefit from it.”

Davis says that it is only fair for millionaires to take part in benefits that they pay for. While acknowledging that $1 million is a lot of money and that someone who made that much money in a year shouldn’t need unemployment benefits, even if losing a job for a period of time, but it still doesn’t discredit their ability to claim the benefits.

Ultimately, Davis doesn’t think that millionaires collect such benefits are a problem. Rather than focusing on who is claiming unemployment benefits, Davis would like to see more improvements to the current system to get more money to people who need it.

“I don’t think that millionaires need the benefits, but I don’t see that as the problem,” said Davis. “I think that the problem is that people who need these benefits aren’t receiving enough money. I think that employers need to pay more for the benefits.”

 

Related Slideshow: MA Millionaires Received Unemployment Benefits

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1997

Total Number of Beneficiaries: 181,231

Number who earned more than $1 million: 22

Number between $500K and $1,000,000: 66

Number between $200K and $500K: 691

Number between $100K and $200K: 5,663

Total Amount Paid to those Earning $100K or More: $27.7 million

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1998

Total Number of Beneficiaries: 180,217

Number who earned more than $1 million: 24

Number between $500K and $1,000,000: 95

Number between $200K and $500K: 1,023

Number between $100K and $200K: 7,649

Total Amount Paid to those Earning $100K or More: $39.1 million

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1999

Total Number of Beneficiaries: 180,108

Number who earned more than $1 million: 51

Number between $500K and $1,000,000: 162

Number between $200K and $500K: 1,495

Number between $100K and $200K: 10,368

Total Amount Paid to those Earning $100K or More: $59.5 million

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2000

Total Number of Beneficiaries: 167,460

Number who earned more than $1 million: 83

Number between $500K and $1,000,000: 194

Number between $200K and $500K: 1,922

Number between $100K and $200K: 11,709

Total Amount Paid to those Earning $100K or More: $72.4 million

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2001

Total Number of Beneficiaries: 240,307

Number who earned more than $1 million: 98

Number between $500K and $1,000,000: 284

Number between $200K and $500K: 3,687

Number between $100K and $200K: 22,376

Total Amount Paid to those Earning $100K or More: $155 million

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2002

Total Number of Beneficiaries: 309,994

Number who earned more than $200K: 4,703

Number between $100K and $200K: 28,075

Total Amount Paid to those Earning $100K or More: $318.5 million

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2003

Total Number of Beneficiaries: 291,762

Number who earned more than $200K: 4,163

Number between $100K and $200K: 25,771

Total Amount Paid to those Earning $100K or More: $242.3 million

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2004

Total Number of Beneficiaries: 241,700

Number who earned more than $200K: 3,748

Number between $100K and $200K: 21,492

Total Amount Paid to those Earning $100K or More: $165.4 million

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2005

Total Number of Beneficiaries: 210,411

Number who earned more than $200K: 3,561

Number between $100K and $200K: 19,505

Total Amount Paid to those Earning $100K or More: $150.1 million

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2006

Total Number of Beneficiaries: 196,737

Number who earned more than $200K: 3,636

Number between $100K and $200K: 19,714

Total Amount Paid to those Earning $100K or More: $153.2 million

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2007

Total Number of Beneficiaries: 206,782

Number who earned more than $200K: 4,216

Number between $100K and $200K: 22,951

Total Amount Paid to those Earning $100K or More: $186.6 million

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2008

Total Number of Beneficiaries: 236,240

Number who earned more than $200K: 5,168

Number between $100K and $200K: 28,699

Total Amount Paid to those Earning $100K or More: $268.8 million

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2009

Total Number of Beneficiaries: 301,618

Number who earned more than $200K: 7,758

Number between $100K and $200K: 38,785

Total Amount Paid to those Earning $100K or More: $560.2 million

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2010

Total Number of Beneficiaries: 364,617

Number who earned more than $1 million: 219

Number between $500K and $1,000,000: 681

Number between $200K and $500K: 7,658

Number between $100K and $200K: 46,106

Total Amount Paid to those Earning $100K or More: $701.4 million

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2011

Total Number of Beneficiaries: 325,909

Number who earned more than $1 million: 189

Number between $500K and $1,000,000: 662

Number between $200K and $500K: 7,318

Number between $100K and $200K: 41,133

Total Amount Paid to those Earning $100K or More: $532.6 million

 
 

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