I was a day ahead of the congressional calendar when I said there were 12 days left for the House to act on 99er – unemployment benefits exhaustees – legislation. There are now 11 days until the House takes its summer recess.
From yesterday’s post, which bears repeating:
While Congress is expected to address unemployment legislation this week, that legislation isn’t intended to help the 99ers – those that have exhausted all their state maximum allowed benefits. The reason for the countdown call is that the House of Representatives goes on its summer break a week earlier than usual on July 30, which means that 99er legislation would have to passed by that date in the House. That leaves little time to push Congress into acting responsibly for the very long-term unemployed.
So the House willl be off as of July 30, and not return until Sept. 13. The recess had been scheduled to start August 2.
“The revised schedule allows ample time to both continue our work to create jobs, promote fiscal responsibility, and investigate the BP oil spill, as well as have members in their districts hearing directly from their constituents,” said Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat.
Read more: http://blogs.mcclatchydc.com/washington/2010/06/house-extends-its-summer-break.html#ixzz0u5Po7WxP
I don’t have the same faith as Rep. Hoyer in the House addressing all those goals. After all, it’s taken the Senate six weeks to get to the point where they can pass unemployment legislation.
Again, with that little time to act, there needs to be a concerted effort at Congress, to put language in a current bill or design a stand-alone bill that addresses the growing ranks of 99ers. Just to be clear, 99 weeks is the maximum allowed weeks that some states allow the jobless to collect unemployment benefits. Some states allow less, but all those that are exhausting benefits are considered 99ers, or benefit exhaustees.
How dire is it for the very long-term unemployed?
Nearly 46 percent, or 6.8 million, of the nation’s nearly 15 million unemployed have been out of work for more than 27 weeks – the official definition of long-term unemployment.
A Pew study says half of those, 3.4 million, have been unemployed for more than a year. And that’s by a conservative measure, not counting those who are working part time because they can’t find full-time jobs or are too discouraged to look.
The long-term unemployed have lost jobs in every sector, but hardest hit are those in information, manufacturing, transportation, and wholesale and retail trade. Even in health and education, this economy’s strongest sectors, one in five who lost jobs is still out of work a year later.
Even in the worst prior recession, in the early 1980s, the rate of long-term unemployment did not rise above 26 percent.
“It affects the social fabric of society,” said Rutgers University public-policy professor Cliff Zukin, coauthor of a recent study on the long-term unemployed.
Zukin worries that the slightly improved jobs numbers will draw attention away from the plight of the long-term unemployed.
“It’s almost like the victims in Haiti and in New Orleans: They are forgotten,” he said. “For those people who are long-term unemployed, I think they think the nation doesn’t care anymore.”
Read more: http://www.philly.com/inquirer/front_page/20100718_Philadelphia-area_jobless_look_to_this_week_s_Senate_vote_on_extending_benefits.html#ixzz0u5RnCNNs
Watch sports videos you won’t find anywhere else
Get a job at McDonald’s!?
How can a government stop caring for its citizens most in need? What may be influencing the decisions Congress makes about the very long-term unemployed is the constant and ill-conceived thought that those who are unemployed should go find work at McDonalds, or some other retail outlet. I have read that rant more than I care to because it fails to look at the facts, such as:
How many McDonalds are going to hire a $50,000 a year laid-off welder or a $75,000 a year out-of-work computer programmer or nurse? Both would likely leave McDonalds immediately if offered a job in their field. Businesses are not in the business of hiring those that don’t fit their needs.
McDonalds employs 385,000 people across the US. With 6.8 million long-term unemployed needing a job, McDonalds would need to expand by 20 fold to accommodate them with jobs.
There are only so many minimum wage jobs to go around and businesses are being very selective since they have a large pool of workers to choose from.
The competition is extreme and employers are not hiring haphazardly and in cases they may be firing people to hire less expensive help:
Wanted: Greater Qualifications
Van Horn notes that the number of online job ads can be misleading; employers might post ads, even when there are no openings, to see if there are qualified workers willing to do current employees’ jobs for less pay. A company may also be required to post a vacancy even if it already has a preferred candidate.
Another hurdle for job seekers: Employers are pickier now. June Shelp, vice president of the Conference Board, says ads tend to feature stricter qualifications, eliminating many potential applicants. With millions of people unemployed and college graduates entering the workforce, “[companies] have a better chance of asking for exactly what you want.”
For many, securing a new job has thus been impossible. In a survey of 908 unemployed people published by Rutgers in May, two-thirds of those who were jobless in August 2009 had still not found work by March; 16 percent had been unemployed for more than two years. Most of those who did find work took pay cuts and diminished benefits. “While the worst phase of the Great Recession is behind us, the vast majority of jobless Americans have not found new jobs,” states the Rutgers report.
The labor market has stagnated, says Van Horn. While there are glimmers of improvement quarter by quarter, businesses must continually add hundreds of thousands of new jobs before we can say employment is truly growing again, he says. “We fell a long way and climbing back up takes a long time.”
The long-term unemployed also get a bum rap:
for not being diligent with their job search. I have received hundreds of letters from those who have sent out hundreds of job applications and resumes without getting hired. One of those job seekers is SAM, who sent me his job search history and all the jobs he’s applied to. Here is a small sampling of that extensive job search:
Finishing Leader 07/17/2010, Construction Equipment Mechanic 07/17/2010, BuyersRoyalty Operations Corp 07/17/2010, Assembly Workers 07/17/2010, Quality Control 07/15/2010, Assembly Line Worker 07/15/2010, Packer 07/15/2010, Quality Control Inspector Plastics 07/14/2010, Laboratory Technician 07/14/2010, Machine Operator 07/14/2010, Orthopedic Polisher 07/14/2010, Paint Prep 07/13/2010, RV Technicians 07/13/2010, Carpenter 07/09/2010, CNC Operator 07/05/2010, Experienced RV Production 06/25/2010, Machine Operators 06/23/2010, Mold Technician 06/22/2010, Grounds/Facilities Maintenance Helper06/22/2010, Quality Control Inspector 06/22/2010 Furniture Upholsterer 06/22/2010, Entry Level Manager Trainee 06/20/2010, Kitchen/Bath Remodel Person 06/18/2010, Food Preprocessing Worker 06/18/2010, Quality Inspector 06/18/2010, Machine Operator 06/17/2010, Installation Technician 06/15/2010, Production Supervisor 06/08/2010, Paint Prepper 06/08/2010, Skilled RV 06/01/2010, Supervisor 05/26/2010, General Production/Machine Operators 05/26/2010, Utility Locate Technician 05/25/2010, Appliance Delivery and Installation 05/24/2010, General Labor 05/23/2010, Order picker 05/20/2010, Truss Manufacturing 05/20/2010
That’s just a small sampling of the jobs applied to by SAM and that’s though a single outlet. SAM has also applied for work outside this state sponsored outlet. SAM did have some part-time positions as well during that span, which ended up costing him $100 a week in benefits. Doing the right thing can often be the wrong thing when it comes to the unemployment system. I’ll have more on SAM’s situation in an upcoming post.
Do you have a verifiable job search profile that you’d like to share with others? Send me your work search history and I’ll post it so others can see that the unemployed are not just sitting things out waiting for a job to drop in their laps [email protected]
Another issue I have is how some in the media and Congress come up with non-verified stories of how the unemployed are being offered jobs, but are reusing them in order to keep collecting unemployment benefits.
Where is the proof to those workers-are-turning-down-jobs statements? They are nowhere to be found. Here’s an example:
Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett on Friday accused some jobless Pennsylvanians of choosing to collect unemployment checks rather than going back to work, prompting swift criticism from his Democratic opponent and one of the state’s top labor leaders.
http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2010_07/024674.php “The jobs are there. But if we keep extending unemployment, people are just going to sit there,” Corbett told Harrisburg radio station WITF at a campaign stop in Elizabethtown. “I’ve literally had construction companies tell me, ‘I can’t get people to come back to work until . . . they say, “I’ll come back to work when unemployment runs out.”
I have yet to see this statement verified by any evidence. These are the type of statements that stick in people’s minds and it causes great harm to the long-term unemployed who are then seen as lazy.
Another reason for the need for long-term – 99 weeks and beyond – unemployment benefits is that companies are literally telling the unemployed not to apply for job openings:. Here’s an example of that discrimination:
Unemployed? Do Not Apply
In a current job posting on The People Place, a job recruiting website for the telecommunications, aerospace/defense and engineering industries, an anonymous electronics company in Angleton, Texas, advertises for a “Quality Engineer.” Qualifications for the job are the usual: computer skills, oral and written communication skills, light to moderate lifting. But red print at the bottom of the ad says, “Client will not consider/review anyone NOT currently employed regardless of the reason.”
President Obama also agrees that the unemployed are doing their best to find a job:
On Saturday, during his weekly radio and internet address, Obama blasted Republicans for blocking efforts to extend the time unemployed Americans can receive government benefits.
“Some Republican leaders actually treat this unemployment insurance as if it’s a form of welfare,” he said. “They say it discourages folks from looking for work. Well, I’ve met a lot of folks looking for work these past few years, and I can tell you, I haven’t met any Americans who would rather have an unemployment check than a meaningful job that lets you provide for your family.”
Use that above link to see an interview with Sen. Mitch McConnell and how he weasels out of the unemployment benefits question and wonders to the deficit spending meme. Sen. McConnell and his Republican and Conservative Democrat cohorts are more concerned about your children’s burden of a tiny fraction of deficit spending, then feeding and sheltering your children now. Seems like a bizarre comparison to me, but that’s how many who are voting against extending unemployment benefits think.
Now is the time for all in Congress to drop the opposition to helping unemployment benefits exhaustees – the 99ers. Don’t blame the unemployed for being unemployed. Most would gladly change places with any employed person to feel the relief of a steady paycheck instead of an unemployment check that barely meets their monthly needs.
If Republicans and Conservative Democrats can vote for approving a trillion$ tax cut for the wealthy, a trillion$ unfunded war effort, a $550 billion unfunded and uncompetitive Medicare prescription drug plan and $700 billion unfunded Wall Street bailout, they can come up with enough funds to help those that need help most, the 99ers.
How much a a percentage of the deficit would it cost over 10 years if Congress allowed another $34 billion for 99er benefits? $34,000,000,000 / $10,000,000,000,000 = 0.0034. When you think of it in that sense, it’s even more disturbing that Congress has waited this long to act for the 99ers.
For additional information on how you can help the 99er cause, please see my article: 99er and Tier 5 countdown: 12 days. Unemployment legislation needed before July 30 House recess. There you will find a letter you can send to Congress as well as links to other worthwhile 99er causes and advocates.
I’ll have more on this issue throughout the week. What follows is a letter I received this weekend from someone who is concerned and frightened about her current unemployed situation:
It’s 2:03am, I CANNOT sleep, I don’t know what I’m going to do if Congress DOES NOT act on this unemployment situation. I have a feeling they’re dragging their feet so that they can take yet another 2-week break and leave unemployed individuals such as myself in a horrible financial situation. I am not a blogger, however I have started a blog about my personal story. This is so scary to me, I’m worried about families I don’t even know. When this economic disaster started in 2008, I remember a man in Southern California taking the life of his 5 children, his wife and then himself. I’m praying tragedies like that does not happen…
Hmmmm…Where do I start? I was laid off October 2008, I went on interview after interview after interview. I registered with a number of staffing agencies, when I would call the agencies they would tell me, it’s really slow right now, no jobs are coming in, this is the part that Congress pretend to be unaware of. It wasn’t until stimulus dollars were put out there before companies began hiring again, a lot of the jobs that were created are temporary jobs. I’m a single parent taking care of 3 children, I have totally and completely depleted my savings since I’ve been laid off. I worked as a contractor and was paid weekly. I was the Executive Assistant for two VP’s) prior to being laid off, my bring home pay after taxes was over $1,000 per week, when I worked overtime, I was at $1,200+ per week AND I was receiving child support in the amount of $400 per month. I wasn’t wealthy, but we were comfortable and I was holding it down for my household.
To hear Congressmen say “let them starve”, “they’re lazy”, “they don’t want to work” is an insult to the 3rd power. Why don’t they take a 50% pay cut to help with the deficit since they care so much. My unemployment was $433 per week, doesn’t come close to what I was earning, but it helped. Currently I have NO INCOME. I received my last unemployment check Thursday, June 17, 2010. My ex-husband was laid off, I have NOT received child support payments in approximately 14 months. I am not on welfare, I do not receive food stamps and I am NOT on any housing subsidy programs. I am BARELY making it. I have depleted all of my funds, the scary thing, if Congress continue to drag their feet, my children and I will be facing homelessness, no money to pay August rent. What kind of crap is this. Oh and we do have to pay taxes on the unemployment monies we have received, either way it goes, unemployed or not we’re still paying into the system.
This is enough to drive a person crazy. I can’t believe the situations I’m facing, it’s unreal. I may not have internet service anymore after tomorrow, no money to pay the bills. L-(
I am sure many of you can relate to Solitary Parents story.
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How has unemployment affected you and your family? Have you applied for hundreds of jobs and received no job offers? Have you been rejected for a job because you are unemployed? Have you been rejected for a job because of your credit score? Has age discrimination played a part in your job hunt? Send your letters to [email protected]
Congress.org has a great media contact list:http://www.congress.org/congressorg/dbq/media/
Another media contact list is located at:http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_oet&address=358×1903
Keeping the Tier 5 and extended unemployment issues alive is going to be up to you, so be sure to contact your congressional representatives as often as you can. You need to continue to pressure Congress to act responsibly and to extend benefits for those unable to find work. Send your representative a fax using FaxZero.com. As has been mentioned in the comments section, you can send up to two free faxes a day.
Here’s a great site where you can find both state and federal contact information: http://conservativeusa.org/mega-cong.htm
Please send your comments and questions to [email protected]
I’ll post updates as they are made available. You can also view my updates and new posts at Twitter: http://twitter.com/layofflist
You can also follow numerous unemployment issues on Facebook. My profile is located at Rochester Unemployment-Examiner (dash between Unemployment and Examiner).