Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Unemployment Blog-a-Thon

Updated below

I was functionally unemployed for about two and a half years, starting just before the economic malaise that's affected just about everyone else around this country in one way or another. There are a few lasting effects from such a long period of unemployment and from the downturn in the economy. One of them is that - still - I have no full-time job. Little-to-no benefits. All told, I'm making about a third of what I was making before, if I'm lucky.

And a lot of other Americans (especially heads of household) are in the same boat. And, to be honest, things may not look up any time soon.

In fact, according to recent studies, there is one job opening for every five unemployed workers. Any which way it's sliced, 1:4 is not good odds.

And the fact that unemployment benefits are once again slated for debate in Congress (which has been acting awfully stingy at a time of crisis for middle and working class families, but can always seem to find ways of making more war) compounds the problem for this nation. Less money in the hands of those that need it leads to points of crisis. But as the Economic Policy Institute notes, extending unemployment leads to extra money floating around in the economy as well as extra jobs and extra hours for those who are currently working.

Extending the federally funded unemployment insurance extensions through 2011 would not only be a lifeline to the families of millions of unemployed workers, it also supports spending responsible for the existence of nearly half a million jobs. Furthermore, it would not only create new jobs, it would boost hours for workers who already have jobs. Both results would be welcome improvements because this recession has seen both job losses and cuts in hours for those with jobs... We find, using the CBO’s methodology, that the $65 billion spent on unemployment insurance extensions through 2011 would support 723,000 full-time equivalent jobs.

So what's to keep the US from extending the benefits? Perhaps the $65 billion price. So, single banks can afford to receive that money for use from the government, but spread out through millions of households on Main St.? Can't let that happen... Nevertheless:

The actual cost to the budget is far less than the sticker price of $65 billion. The 723,000 full-time- equivalent jobs created or saved means: (1) the government will bring in more revenue from the taxes paid on the wages earned by those who otherwise would not have jobs, and (2) it will spend less on safety net measures (for example, Medicaid and food stamps) related to unemployment. In other words, when jobs are created, it adds to government revenues and reduces government expenditures. Using a methodology described in Mishel and Shierholz (2010), we find that of the $104.7 billion increase in GDP related to continuing the unemployment extensions through 2011, some 37.4%, or $39.1 billion, will be recouped both in higher revenues, as more people and firms pay taxes, and in lower expenditures. Consequently, the effective cost to the budget of continuing the unemployment insurance extensions for a year is $25.9 billion instead of $65 billion.
Call your congressperson/reptile.


Seventy-three percent of voters want Congress to keep the extended unemployment benefits put in place to fight the recession, according to a new poll commissioned by the National Employment Law Project, and they don't care about the deficit.

With unemployment expected to hover above nine percent for the foreseeable future, nearly three out of four voters say "it is too early to start cutting back benefits for workers who lost their jobs."
Will the new Republican-led House (and Democrat-led Senate and White House) listen to the needs (and whims) of the American people? Or will they continue to push their so-called mandate (punishing the poor while rewarding the wealthy)?


  1. I feel your pain, I am currently making less than one-tenth what I made before the downturn.

  2. hflatorre6:57 PM

    What we are forgetting here is the 2 million 99er's most of them adults and as i am experiencing, people really don't want to hire you for various reasons. I am a machonist and i lost count of the resume's i have sent, not only in that fiels, and no response?

  3. hflatorre6:58 PM

    What we are forgetting here is the 2 million 99er's most of them adults and as i am experiencing, people really don't want to hire you for various reasons. I am a machinist and i lost count of the resume's i have sent, not only in that field, and no response?

  4. Good points, Hector.

    The 99'ers make up the size of a major metropolitan area all by themselves and I haven't heard much in the way of solutions for those people who've lost their benefits (thanks, Congress!).

  5. Back at work after being unemployed or underemployed since leaving Frito-Lay in September 2007. Attempted retail full-commission electronics sales for 18 months during the worst of the Great Recession and followed that with 12 full months without any job. Two weeks and two days training and I'm on my first "solo" day tomorrow. 245 mile run and six stops with an overnight outside of Beaumont... 8 stops on Thursday and back to the depot in Houston that evening. If I can keep it under the max DOT 14 hours per day and find all my stops I'll consider it a success. Route sales is where i started my "career" in 1984 and I might make something in the neighborhood of my income in the late 1990's.

  6. Thanks for sharing your story, David. Now, go break a leg!

  7. I had a fine old time on unemployment - I had the full 99 weeks thanks to the timing of my layoff, and I'm used to being poor, so it was a great break.

    I'm scared to death for my Mother though, who has maybe 14 more weeks of unemployment but is four years away (@63) from retirement. No one is going to take her and her multiple health problems on, despite her great skills and experience. Her one option is to apply for SSI, where there is a two-year backlog. I can't support her - I have no idea what's going to happen.

  8. wow. Thanks, HoN!

    Another great point about those who are most vulnerable to these shifts in economy. It seems like the in-betweeners (those who are between ages or incomes where either the safety net steps in to help or they can do fine all by themselves) live on the default lines, and when the economy breaks, they're the first to get sucked in and pulled down.

  9. Thanks for this great post. We added it to the MomsRising unemployment insurance blog-a-thon.

    Anita, MomsRising.org

  10. Thanks for checking it out and for inspiring this post, Anita and MomsRising.

  11. Even before the recession years ago, it has been hard to find jobs and the recession just made it worse. Not only do companies don't hire people, they also let some of their employees go. As for the unemployment benefits, I really hope that the government extends it, but not to the point of making people dependent on it. Surely some would want these benefits, but this is not an excuse for not wanting to find a job anymore. We all just have to persevere in finding the right job for us.

  12. Thank you for writing this terrific piece on unemployment. We've added it to the MomsRising blog-a-thon on unemployment here: http://bit.ly/9HcCL6
    All the best, Julissa, MomsRising.org

  13. thanks for sharing your story, this will be a good lesson. goodluck!



  14. Thank you Natalie, Julissa and gellie.

    Unfortunately, as we are aware now, Congress did not extend unemployment benefits. If there was a solid plan or we could see the recovery hitting the lower 98%, I might not be so worried. This is incredulous, though. Our stories need to spread and the plutocracy needs to be aware that we shall not stand for this.

    Time to take it to the streets.


Be kind. Rewind.