On either side of the Atlantic, different narratives are playing out among the unemployed, the Wall Street Journal reports. While Americans left jobless by the recession struggle to pay insurance and bills, Europe’s social safety nets provide many with the majority of their former incomes and cover health-care costs. But the high price tag of these programs will likely slow European recovery.
Where one Illinois worker saw his $5,000 monthly salary shrivel to $1,400 in unemployment benefits, a German’s take-home shrank by just 20% when he lost his job. That figure shrank after four months, but generous unemployment benefits last another year. And where the American has been forced to give up health coverage, the German is provided for—and can still afford to take a week’s Mediterranean vacation.