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Drug use may be impeding employment

Posted on December 22nd, 2011 Read time: 1 minutes

Are drug users who prefer to get high rather than search for a job wasting the government's unemployment benefits funds? That's the question posed by New York Republican Representative Tom Reed, who recently suggested that the unemployed can't find work "because of their own bad decisions," The Huffington Post reports.

The assumption isn't unfounded.

According to the government's National Survey on Drug Use and Health for 2010, unemployed people were more than twice as likely to use drugs than those with full-time jobs. Furthermore, drug use among the fully employed was 8.4 percent, far lower than the 17.5 percent for unemployed Americans.

Lawmakers in many states attempted to counteract this by pursuing jobless drug testing bills this year, The Huffington Post adds. Federal law doesn't allow states to deny unemployment benefits for reasons unrelated to the termination, although 20 states do have laws that disqualify workers from receiving benefits if they're fired for a drug-related reason.

"What you don't want to do is have somebody get to the final stages of applying for a job and then fail a drug test and then be denied their ability to work," Michigan Representative Dave Camp told the news source.

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