Following the covid-induced lockdowns, many commented on the role the German model of Kurzarbeit could play in reducing unemployment. Other countries emulated the model. Looking at the experiences of Germany, the UK, Sweden and the USA, the article analyses the strengths and weaknesses of short-time working (STW) schemes. It asks whether STW has been well designed to have optimal short and longer run impact. It is quite effective as a short-term palliative, but in longer downturns, its weaknesses come to the fore. It is by no means clear that the UK needs a permanent replacement for the furlough.
- short-time working
- unemployment insurance