Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fox runs with discredited theory in its assault on unemployment insurance

More tools for the 99ers and their argument: MediaMatters cites numerous sources which dispute Professor Robert Barro's claim that unemployment rates would be lower if unemployment benefits ended sooner rather than later.

"What we need now is more jobs, not bigger corporations."

"...And that means focusing on the demand side of the economy, not the supply side."

Robert Reich, concluding his article entitled "Warning: Why Cheaper Money Won't Mean More Jobs"

Sunday, August 29, 2010


I've taken the elevator pitch and formatted it onto a one-page PDF suitable for printing and faxing. Especially faxing.

Update 1: Version 2 is also available. It makes our point a bit more dramatically.

Update 2: both versions have been polished up to improve their appearance, and both have been linked in the Tools You Can Use section of our Act page.

If you have access to a fax machine, send a copy of this to your Senators. Use your cover sheet to add a personal message: that you're a constituent, that you're a 99er or know someone who is, this is how the bill will affect you if it passes or if it fails.

Use Congress Merge to reach your senator and their staff.

As always, please and thank you.

A Response To Conservative Camel

(The original blog post I'm responding to is posted on Conservative Camel.)


I came across your blog post while doing some research on S. 3706. You've written a thoughtful critique.

Please allow me to offer a rebuttal to some of the points you've made:

You've summarized the bill's provisions fairly and accurately. Senator Stabenow did sponsor the bill, and as of the August recess, it has eleven co-sponsors, including the Senators you mentioned.

You've speculated that Senator Stabenow picked a cutoff unemployment rate of 7.5% to benefit Democrats in the midterm elections and to benefit President Obama in 2012. It's certainly a possibility, but another possibility is that 33 states and the District of Columbia all have unemployment rates higher than 7.5%.

Consider the road the bill has to travel: it's currently in the Senate Finance Committee, but not on their legislative calendar. It will have to get onto their calendar, be reported out of committee, be scored by the CBO, pass the full Senate (after overcoming a Republican filibuster), pass the House, go through the reconciliation process and land on the President's desk in time to have an effect on the midterm elections. The odds of that happening in the fall term, which will only last 12 legislative days before the next break, are, unfortunately, slim to none.

Perhaps the simple act of introducing the bill will have some electoral benefit - that's a fair point to argue, since it sends the message that Senator Stabenow and her co-sponsors are "doing something." By the same token, though, the Senators on the Senate Finance Committee have already done something: they, along with the full Senate, have cast twelve votes on bills to extend emergency unemployment compensation, and the record of those votes is very, very clear.

Looking to the second part of your speculation, that passing S. 3706 will benefit President Obama in the Electoral College come 2012: yes, it will. As a general rule, anything that helps the economy benefits the sitting Administration. But was the 7.5% cutoff specifically chosen because it will benefit the Obama Administration? Only if you think that the 124 electoral votes in states like Texas, Georgia, Tennesee and the other red states in the list would swing to the blue column because of this bill, and that the 50 electoral votes from blue states under the 7.5% threshold will stay blue.

The next two points you make are the two that are least supported by evidence.

The first is that "many have started to refer to unemployment as 'funemployment.'" The term gained currency in 2004, several years before the current recession. It's telling that the blogger who popularized the term made this announcement over a year ago in their very last blog post:

And now, finally, I have a job.

Today, "Comment of the Day: Not-So-Funemployment" is more the rule than the exception.

The second point you make is that "many of the unemployed are weighing the relaxation of going to the beach or playing golf and collecting unemployment benefits against the drudgery and pay of some job that might be available."

I would love to see your source.

Many of the unemployed are quite literally killing themselves. Quoting an article by Annie Lowery in the Independent:

The unemployed commit suicide at a rate two or three times the national average, researchers estimate. And in many cases, the longer the spell of unemployment, the higher the likelihood of suicide.

I'm not sure if you understand the scope of the problem, and why a bill like S. 3706 is vital, but it boils down to three numbers:

  • 15 million. That's the number of unemployed people who are actively looking for work.
  • 3 million. That's the number of job openings across the nation.
  • 12 million. Fill every job opening, and that's how many people are left - to fill exactly zero job openings.

In your next paragraph, you conclude that "Unfortunately, our government is subsidizing laziness." That could not be further from the truth. When you say that "These extended unemployment benefit(s) de-incentivize people from stretching themselves, looking for work in another field or possibly starting their own business," you're right. Specifically, you're 1.6 weeks right.

Quoting from a recent study published at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco's Economic Research site:

The similar increase in duration for the UI eligible and ineligible groups suggests that extended UI had only a limited impact on unemployment duration. As of the fourth quarter of 2009, the expected duration of unemployment had risen about 18.7 weeks for job losers and about 17.1 weeks for leavers and entrants, using the years 2006-2007 as a baseline. The differential increase of 1.6 weeks for job losers is the presumed impact of extended UI benefits on unemployment duration.

Other people, most notably Senator Kyl from Arizona, have tried to make the same "benefits are disincentives" point, but the evidence suggests otherwise.

You mention the possibility of unemployed people starting their own businesses. Based on survey data from the NFIB, "poor sales" is the chief concern of small businesses. Opening up more small businesses will only have the effect of increasing supply, not increasing demand: one more vendor in the marketplace is one more vendor competing for sales that aren't there. Yes, the newly-minted small business owner is technically no longer unemployed, but has their situation actually improved? I would contend that no customers is exactly the same as no paycheck.

Your next paragraph describes how S. 3706 extends provisions of the HIRE Act, and here, you're on very sound footing - you've accurately summarized the bill.

Next, you mention evidence that the HIRE Act is creating jobs: that's not just Senator Stabenow's assertion: that's the conclusion of a report published by the Treasury Department.

You go on to say that "once again, a Democrat fails to understand basic business principles." I think you may be overlooking a critical economic principle yourself - the principle of the externality:

Definition: An externality is an effect of a purchase or use decision by one set of parties on others who did not have a choice and whose interests were not taken into account.

Classic example of a negative externality: pollution, generated by some productive enterprise, and affecting others who had no choice and were probably not taken into account.

Example of a positive externality: Purchase a car of a certain model increases demand and thus availability for mechanics who know that kind of car, which improves the situation for others owning that model.

In this case, there is a negative externality present in the market: corporations are increasing profits by increasing efficiencies. That sounds great, until you realize that those gains in efficiency are coming at the cost of jobs. Less jobs means less people able to afford goods and services.

If the interests of corporate America are aligned with the rest of the country, both groups win: companies see a growing demand for their goods and services because consumers have sufficient purchasing power. Robert Reich captured the argument nicely:

The reality is this: Big American companies may never rehire large numbers of workers. And they won’t even begin to think about hiring until they know American consumers will buy their products. The problem is, American consumers won’t start buying against until they know they have reliable paychecks.

S. 3706 helps align corporate and workers' interests, in just the way you've described: by extending the provisions of the HIRE Act, which have been shown to create jobs. Far from a misunderstanding of business principles, it's a savvy application of them.

You end with a summary that is thisclose to the argument for passing S. 3706: more jobs creates more demand. (Your "cut personal and corporate taxes" call, however, misses the mark - tax bills are at their lowest level since 1950, and a tax cut for someone with no income, like an unemployed worker, won't affect them in any material way.) If the HIRE Act has been responsible for 5.6 million jobs, I submit that as evidence that Democrats are truly interested in creating jobs. By focusing on the long-term unemployed, Democrats are demonstrating that they understand that people out of work the longest are likely to need the most help getting back to work. By creating a fifth tier of emergency unemployment compensation, Democrats are demonstrating that they understand the historic circumstances America is facing. Businesses receive tax breaks and credits for hiring and keeping employees: workers get the paychecks/benefits they desperately need. Economic demand rises to meet supply. Positive externality.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


August 28, 1963 - I Have A Dream - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves, who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so we have come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must ever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecutions and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends. And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right down in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I will go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day. And this will be the day, this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning, "My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!" And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring - from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring - from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring - from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring - from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring - from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that.

Let freedom ring - from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring - from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring - from every hill and molehill of Mississippi, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual,

"Free at last, free at last.

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last."

Friday, August 27, 2010


It's time to take a mental health day, and recharge for the week ahead.

On the agenda for next week: networking with fellow 99er bloggers and online activists, posting free ways to fax the Senators and staffers we need to reach, and reviewing the game plan for passing S. 3706.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Elevator Pitch for the Americans Want to Work Act

You're probably familiar with the "elevator pitch" - a concise summary that you can deliver in the time it takes to ride an elevator. This is the elevator pitch for S. 3706, the Americans Want to Work Act:

  • At least 1.3 million unemployed workers1 have exhausted their benefits.
  • The job market isn't keeping up: There are fewer than 3 million job openings2 for almost 15 million job seekers3.
  • We're caught in a vicious cycle: Businesses aren't hiring because their chief concern is poor sales, and people aren't buying because they've lost their jobs.
  • S. 3706 will break the cycle in two ways:
    1. by growing the workforce: 3706 will extend the HIRE Act, which is already credited with adding 5.6 million jobs4;
    2. by adding a fifth tier of unemployment benefits, which add $1.61 to the GDP5 for every dollar spent.
  • Please ask Chairman Baucus to add 3706 to his Committee's legislative calendar. Americans want to work.

Contact your Senators, especially if they're on the Senate Finance Committee. Ask to speak with the Legislative Director or the Legislative Assistant who deals with jobs and the economy. Deliver the pitch. Thank you.

Suggestions on how to hone the argument are greatly welcomed.


  1. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. This number does not take into account people who have stopped looking for work after 99 weeks.
  2. BLS JOLTS News Release, August 11, 2010
  3. BLS Employment Situation Summary, August 6, 2010
  4. "Nationally, from February 2010 to June 2010, businesses have hired an estimated 5.6 million new workers who had been unemployed for eight weeks or longer, making those businesses eligible to receive billions in HIRE Act tax exemptions and credits for hiring long-term unemployed workers." (source)
  5. source: Mark Zandi, Moody's Analytics (PDF link)

A No-Brainer

When they return from the August recess, the Senate Finance Committee may be asked to look at renewing the Bush tax cuts for high-income earners. From the Wall Street Journal:

Washington business groups are urging Democratic leaders not to use procedural shortcuts to bring major tax legislation to the Senate floor later this year, arguing that it would be 'a grave disservice to the historical and constitutional role of the Senate.' What they’re not saying: such an approach would also offer a better shot at passage of legislation that would extend Bush-era tax breaks for high earners - families making more than $250,000 a year - due to expire at the end of the year.

The Finance Committee may also have another bill to consider: S. 3706, the Americans Want to Work Act.

If the Committee is serious about addressing the economic problems we're facing, passing 3706 should be a no-brainer. Based on the models Mark Zandi at Moody's put together, extending unemployment benefits will add $1.61 to the GDP for every dollar spent. By comparison, extending the Bush tax cuts will add 32 cents for each dollar spent... and that's if all of the Bush tax cuts were extended.

It should be a no-brainer, but we know it's not going to be that easy. The Finance Committee has a decidedly partisan voting record when it comes to extending unemployment, and Senators Kyl, Hatch and Bunning are all on the record against extending benefits, if not against unemployed men and women themselves.

Passing S. 3706 would be a win-win solution that could help break the vicious cycle of low demand, and jump start the virtuous cycle of increased demand. Here's how:

  • Today, poor sales is rated as the single most important problem businesses have1.
  • Today, loss of income is affecting 14-15 million unemployed workers and their families, most especially the roughly 1.5 million (or more) 99ers who have exhausted their benefits.
  • That's the vicious cycle: businesses aren't hiring because sales are bad, and people aren't buying because unemployment is bad.
  • If passed, 3706 will provide extended credits for businesses to hire the long-term unemployed, and add a fifth tier of EUC for the 99ers.
  • If passed, the paychecks and benefits created by 3706 will go right back into the economy as people pay for the things they need.
  • That's the virtuous cycle: more people with increased purchasing power lead to increased sales. As sales increase, businesses will be able to hire more employees to meet increased demand.

Choosing to extend the Bush tax cuts for high earners will help the well off, but won't fix the unemployment problem. Passing 3706 will help everyone, high earners and unemployed alike, by proving a better return (1.61 vs 32 cents) for the stimulus dollars spent, and growing the economy that much more.

  • NFIB Small Business Economic Trends, August 2010 - 29% of respondents rated poor sales as the single most important problem, followed by taxes (22%) and gov't regulations/red tape (15%) (source) Also see the related story by Ezra Klein in the Washington Post.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Republican Message To The Unemployed

The following table tallies the votes that members of the Senate Finance Committee have cast on extending tiers of unemployment insurance benefits. The table is sorted by the number of 'yes' votes, and each row is colored to show the Senator's party affiliation.

Senate Finance Committee
Voting Record On Unemployment Insurance Benefits
Senator Party State Votes to Extend UE State Unemployment
Max Baucus D MT 12/12 7.30%
Jeff Bingaman D NM 12/12 8.20%
Maria Cantwell D WA 12/12 8.90%
Thomas Carper D DE 12/12 8.40%
Kent Conrad D ND 12/12 3.60%
John Kerry D MA 12/12 9.00%
Chuck Schumer D NY 12/12 8.20%
Debbie Stabenow D MI 12/12 13.10%
Ron Wyden D OR 12/12 10.60%
Blanche Lincoln D AR 11/12 7.40%
John Rockefeller D WV 11/12 8.60%
Bill Nelson D FL 10/12 11.50%
Robert Menendez D NJ 9/12 9.70%
Olympia Snowe R ME 9/12 8.10%
Chuck Grassley R IA 5/12 6.80%
Jon Kyl R AZ 5/12 9.60%
Pat Roberts R KS 5/12 6.50%
Michael Crapo R ID 4/12 8.80%
John Ensign R NV 4/12 14.30%
Orrin Hatch R UT 3/12 7.20%
Jim Bunning R KY 2/12 9.90%
John Cornyn R TX 2/12 8.20%
Michael Enzi R WY 2/12 6.70%

Three data points merit attention:

  • North Dakota has a very enviable 3.6% unemployment rate, but Senator Conrad of ND has voted 12 of 12 times to extend unemployment insurance benefits.
  • Nevada is on the other end of the scale: at 14.3%, it leads the nation in unemployment, but Senator Ensign of NV has only voted in four out of 12 instances to extend UI benefits. Nevada's unemployment rate is over a full point higher than that of Michigan, but it was Senator Stabenow who introduced S. 3706 - Senator Ensign is not on record as either a co-sponsor or a supporter.
  • Maine, with an unemployment rate of 8.1%, ranks 21st - slightly better than the country as a whole. Senator Snowe of ME has voted 9 out of 12 times to extend benefits.

In fact, with the exception of Senator Snowe, each of the remaining Republican Senators on the Committee have voted to extend UI benefits less than half of the time.

In previous recessions, emergency unemployment benefits were the norm, lasting from 25 to 33 months as seen here:

click to view full-size

The evidence is clear: the Republican Party is more than willing to tell the nation's unemployed, in the words of Senator Bunning, "tough shit".

Monday, August 23, 2010

We Interrupt Our Regular Programming... remind our readers of what General Colin Powell said, on October 19, 2008. The words he spoke then, on Meet The Press, are equally relevant in today's manufactured controversy over the Park51 project in lower Manhattan:

I'm also troubled by... what members of the (Republican) party say. And it is permitted to be said such things as, 'Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.' Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he's a Christian. He's always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no, that's not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, 'He's a Muslim and he might be associated terrorists.' This is not the way we should be doing it in America. I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay was of a mother in Arlington Cemetery, and she had her head on the headstone of her son's grave. And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone. And it gave his awards - Purple Heart, Bronze Star - showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death. He was 20 years old. And then, at the very top of the headstone, it didn't have a Christian cross, it didn't have the Star of David, it had crescent and a star of the Islamic faith. And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, and he was an American. He was born in New Jersey. He was 14 years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he can go serve his country, and he gave his life. Now, we have got to stop polarizing ourself in this way. ... But I'm troubled about the fact that, within the party, we have these kinds of expressions.
The image General Powell was referring to:
Elsheba Khan at the grave of her son,
Specialist Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

$1.00 in UI Benefits = $1.61 in GDP

Mark Zandi, the Chief Economist at Moody's Analytics, testified before the Senate Finance Committee in April of this year.

The data he presented is well worth remembering in light of the Americans Want to Work Act.

The critical piece of data: each dollar of unemployment insurance benefits paid turns into $1.61 of GDP in one year's time. Returns on investment as high as that are hard to come by.

I've added the table below to the Stat Pack page.

Economic Category/Activity GDP Growth
Tax Cuts
Nonrefundable Lump-Sum Tax Rebate 1.01
Refundable Lump-Sum Tax Rebate 1.22
Temporary Tax Cuts
Payroll Tax Holiday 1.24
Job Tax Credit 1.30
Across-the-Board Tax Cut 1.02
Accelerated Depreciation 0.25
Loss Carryback 0.22
Housing Tax Credit 0.90
Permanent Tax Cuts
Extend Alternative Minimum Tax Patch 0.51
Make Bush Income Tax Cuts Permanent 0.32
Make Dividend and Capital Gains Tax Cuts Permanent 0.37
Cut in Corporate Tax Rate 0.32
Spending Increases
Extending Unemployment Insurance Benefits 1.61
Temporary Federal Financing of Work-Share Programs 1.69
Temporary Increase in Food Stamps 1.74
General Aid to State Governments 1.41
Increased Infrastructure Spending 1.57
Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) 1.13
1. The bang for the buck is estimated by the one-year dollar change in GDP for a given dollar reduction in federal tax revenue or increase in spending.
2. The bang-for-the-buck estimates are based on simulations of the Moody’s Analytics econometric model of the U.S. economy.
3. Source: Moody's PDF link

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Death And Joblessness

Annie Lowrey, writing in The Washington Independent, on unemployment and suicide:
The unemployed commit suicide at a rate two or three times the national average, researchers estimate. And in many cases, the longer the spell of unemployment, the higher the likelihood of suicide.

Please share this article with anyone you see criticizing anyone who's unemployed. Ask them if they're okay with the blood of a neighbor, a fellow American, on their hands.

Monday, August 16, 2010

...Strong Words To Follow*

Here are some numbers for your blackboard:

14,623,000unemployed workers
2,937,000available jobs

Those are Americans you're so casually dismissing. Hard-working Americans who want to get back to work. Who are working just as hard to find a job as they did when they had a job.

Get a job, you say? Get two?

Get your head out of the sand.

*I'm sure there are those who know the start of the quote.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

#99ers, We Need To Make Our Voices Heard

...whether it's getting in touch with people who are familiar with unemployment advocacy, or how a bill becomes a law.

...if you have a few minutes to add some information into a spreadsheet, or send a fax to your Senator.

Any time you can spare is greatly welcome.

We have a to-do list.

And we could use your help.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

An Open Letter To President Obama From A 99er

Dear Mr. President,

I am a 99er. I’m sure you already know what that is, but to clarify: A 99er is a person who has exhausted all available unemployment benefits, including all 4 Tiers of federal EUC as well as state extended benefits.

I was originally laid off in December of 2007 from a job I had held for 12 years. I have sent out multiple copies of my resume daily and filled out countless job applications since then. About a month ago, I finally got my first callback and interview.

My first. Since December of 2007.
Please read the complete letter here.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Americans, Desperate For Help

Vote Yes: The Americans Want To Work Act

Read about the bill. The Americans Want to Work Act provides incentives for businesses to hire and it provides a bridge for job seekers, by:

  • Creating an additional tier of benefits for those who have exhausted their unemployment insurance;
  • Extending the successful HIRE Act payroll tax exemption through the end of 2011;
  • Doubling the general business tax credit to encourage businesses to hire the hardest hit Americans.


As of 8/13/2010, the Americans Want To Work Act has one sponsor and nine11 co-sponsors. The goal is a filibuster-proof 60 yes votes.

Quoting from "EspiritE"

Bill Status for the 99ers “American Want to Work Act – S.3706” I spoke to Nancy Pelosi’s & Harry Reid’s offices as many of you are aware the bill was introduced last week by Senate Stabenow and supporters of the bill last week. At this point it’s tracked to go through some of the regular bill processes as in routing to the Congressional Budget Officer a.k.a. CBO & the Taxation Committee simultaneously and then continue through the legislative process debate, vote, pass, and sign. At this point no one is anticipating this occurring during the recess, but continue the calls.

Here's how you can help:

  • Look up your Senators' names and your state's unemployment rates. Scroll back up here when you're ready.
  • Be pleasant and polite. Please and thank you.
  • Phone the United States Capitol switchboard at 1 (202) 224-3121, and ask the switchboard operator to connect you to your Senator's office.
  • Introduce yourself: "Hi, I'm..." and tell the person you're talking to where you're from. A phone call from a constituent carries much more weight than a call from out of state.
  • Express your concerns about your state's unemployment rate.
  • Tell the person you're speaking to that the job numbers just don't add up: the latest reports show that there are 4.3 million job openings1 for 14.6 million unemployed people2.
  • The number you're most concerned about: there are at least 1.4 million workers who have been unemployed for at least 99 weeks. When Congress authorized additional support for the unemployed, they didn't do so for the 99ers.
  • Senator Stabenow's bill, S.3706, can help the 99ers.
  • Ask the person you're talking to if the Senator will co-sponsor S.3706, the Americans Want to Work Act.
  • If they will, great!
  • If the Senator's office says no, please ask why, then thank them for their time.
  • Whether the Senator is a yes or a no, get in contact with me and let me know. I'll update the list.

Other Ways To Help

  • Spread the word - tweet this to your friends and followers: ask your Senator to support Senator Stabenow's legislation - the Americans Want To Work Act - #p2 #tcot #99ers
  • Track the bill's progress on GovTrack or Thomas
  • Write to your Senators - each of them has a contact form on their website. Here's the note I sent to mine:
    Dear Senator Gillibrand,

    Unemployed New Yorkers need your voice.

    Recent statistics from the Labor Department show that there are at least four unemployed workers for every job opening - an unsustainable situation for those who have lost careers, life and retirement savings, and perhaps even the roof over their heads.

    Senator Stabenow has introduced S.3706, the Americans Want To Work Act, which will help the 99ers - New Yorkers who have used up the current tiers of unemployment benefits - by giving businesses incentives to hire the unemployed, as well as to create a fifth tier of benefits.

    Senator Schumer is a co-sponsor of the bill.

    Will you please add your name as a co-sponsor, and will you vote yes to S.3706?

    Thank you,


Senators, Unemployment Rates and Vote Status

StateNamePartyUnemploymentBill Status
AlabamaRichard ShelbyRepublican10.3 
 Jeff SessionsRepublican  
AlaskaLisa MurkowskiRepublican7.9 
 Mark BegichDemocratic  
ArizonaJohn McCainRepublican9.6 
 Jon KylRepublican  
ArkansasBlanche LincolnDemocratic7.5 
 Mark PryorDemocratic  
CaliforniaDianne FeinsteinDemocratic12.3 
 Barbara BoxerDemocratic  
ColoradoMark UdallDemocratic8.0 
 Michael BennetDemocratic  
ConnecticutChris DoddDemocratic8.8Co-sponsor
 Joe LiebermanIndependent Democratic  
DelawareTom CarperDemocratic8.5 
 Ted KaufmanDemocratic  
FloridaBill NelsonDemocratic11.4 
 George LeMieuxRepublican  
GeorgiaSaxby ChamblissRepublican10.0 
 Johnny IsaksonRepublican  
HawaiiDaniel InouyeDemocratic6.3 
 Daniel AkakaDemocratic  
IdahoMike CrapoRepublican8.8 
 Jim RischRepublican  
IllinoisDick DurbinDemocratic10.4Co-sponsor
 Roland BurrisDemocratic  
IndianaRichard LugarRepublican10.1 
 Evan BayhDemocratic  
IowaChuck GrassleyRepublican6.8 
 Tom HarkinDemocratic  
KansasSam BrownbackRepublican6.5 
 Pat RobertsRepublican  
KentuckyMitch McConnellRepublican10.0 
 Jim BunningRepublican  
LouisianaMary LandrieuDemocratic7.0 
 David VitterRepublican  
MaineOlympia SnoweRepublican8.0 
 Susan CollinsRepublican  
MarylandBarbara MikulskiDemocratic7.1 
 Ben CardinDemocratic  
MassachusettsJohn KerryDemocratic9.0 
 Scott BrownRepublican  
MichiganCarl LevinDemocratic13.2Co-sponsor
 Debbie StabenowDemocratic Sponsor
MinnesotaAmy KlobucharDemocratic6.8 
 Al FrankenDemocratic  
MississippiThad CochranRepublican11.0 
 Roger WickerRepublican  
MissouriKit BondRepublican9.1 
 Claire McCaskillDemocratic  
MontanaMax BaucusDemocratic7.3 
 Jon TesterDemocratic  
NebraskaBen NelsonDemocratic4.8 
 Mike JohannsRepublican  
NevadaHarry ReidDemocratic14.2Co-sponsor
 John EnsignRepublican  
New HampshireJudd GreggRepublican5.9 
 Jeanne ShaheenDemocratic  
New JerseyFrank LautenbergDemocratic9.6Co-sponsor
 Bob MenendezDemocratic  
New MexicoJeff BingamanDemocratic8.2 
 Tom UdallDemocratic  
New YorkChuck SchumerDemocratic8.2Co-sponsor
 Kirsten GillibrandDemocratic yesCo-sponsor
North CarolinaRichard BurrRepublican10.0 
 Kay HaganDemocratic  
North DakotaKent ConradDemocratic-NPL3.6 
 Byron DorganDemocratic-NPL  
OhioGeorge VoinovichRepublican10.5 
 Sherrod BrownDemocratic Co-sponsor
OklahomaJim InhofeRepublican6.8 
 Tom CoburnRepublican  
OregonRon WydenDemocratic10.5 
 Jeff MerkleyDemocratic  
PennsylvaniaArlen SpecterDemocratic9.2 
 Bob Casey, Jr.Democratic Co-sponsor
Rhode IslandJack ReedDemocratic12.0Co-sponsor
 Sheldon WhitehouseDemocratic Co-sponsor
South CarolinaLindsey GrahamRepublican10.7 
 Jim DeMintRepublican  
South DakotaTim JohnsonDemocratic4.5 
 John ThuneRepublican  
TennesseeLamar AlexanderRepublican10.1 
 Bob CorkerRepublican  
TexasKay Bailey HutchisonRepublican8.2 
 John CornynRepublican  
UtahOrrin HatchRepublican7.2 
 Robert Foster BennettRepublican  
VermontPatrick LeahyDemocratic6.0 
 Bernie SandersIndependent  
VirginiaJim WebbDemocratic7.0 
 Mark WarnerDemocratic  
WashingtonPatty MurrayDemocratic8.9 
 Maria CantwellDemocratic  
West VirginiaJay RockefellerDemocratic8.5 
 Carte GoodwinDemocratic  
WisconsinHerb KohlDemocratic7.9 
 Russ FeingoldDemocratic  
WyomingMike EnziRepublican6.8 
 John BarrassoRepublican  

  1. Job openings - the Conference Board (via US News and World Report)
  2. Employment Situation Summary -
  3. Unemployment Rates for States -