Here’s How Much You Can Get Paid Not to Work in Some States

Amid a national labor shortage, a new study found that, in many states, staying home can be more lucrative than going to work.


“If you pay people not to work and tax them when they do, don’t be surprised if you get unemployment,” economist Milton Friedman once said.


Insurance benefits and Affordable Care Act subsidies for certain families pay as well or better than the national median income in 24 states, according to the analysis for the Committee to Unleash Prosperity published last week.

  • “In 14 states, unemployment benefits and ACA subsidies are the equivalent to a head of household earning $80,000 in salary, plus health insurance benefits,” wrote University of Chicago economics professor Casey Mulligan and Heritage Foundation research fellow E.J. Antoni.
  • In three states — Washington, New Jersey and Massachusetts — the unemployment benefits and ACA subsidies are worth more than $100,000 a year on an annualized basis, though most states cap unemployment benefits at six months.
  • The comparison was based on the maximum payouts for a household of two unemployed adults, both age 60, and two minors, ages 15 and 17.


“The U.S. is ‘missing’ more than 3 million workers of working age that could be working and were working prior to Covid but are not today,” Mulligan and Antoni wrote. “This study shows that one factor contributing to the dearth of workers is the generous benefits paid to families without workers.”

  • A separate study by the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank, published in October, found that during the COVID-19 pandemic, “terminating emergency unemployment benefit programs caused a substantial increase in employment.”
  by   is licensed under    

Get latest news delivered daily!

We will send you breaking news right to your inbox

Have a tip? Let us know!