Showing posts from March, 2011

What not to do with lemons

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Quote of the Day, Bob Herbert Edition

From op-ed writer Bob Herbert's final column in the New York Times, "Losing Our Way""Welcome to America in the second decade of the 21st century. An army of long-term unemployed workers is spread across the land, the human fallout from the Great Recession and long years of misguided economic policies. Optimism is in short supply. The few jobs now being created too often pay a pittance, not nearly enough to pry open the doors to a middle-class standard of living."

The National: Jobs View From the Streets

A surprising source provides reporting on the 99ers: The National, Abi Dhabi's English-language newspaper:The collective voice of the multitudes of US unemployed is not being heard. And the worry is this rate of joblessness and under-employment may become an accepted norm.(full article here)

A Response To "Addicted to Unemployment"

Lee,I'm writing this to respond to your piece about people "addicted to unemployment." I'm hoping to show you that we as a nation are facing a problem most of us have never faced before - one that demands a set of responses we wouldn't normally have to consider.I want to try to keep it as politically neutral as possible, and I hope you'll call me out if I stray from that ideal.First off, here's a picture of what we're facing. The 2007 recession cut deeper into jobs and is likely to last longer than anything we've experienced in the post-WWII era:source: CalculatedRISK

HARO - Job seekers: Headhunter seeking unemployed for career makeover TV series

Seeking unemployed OR underemployed* individuals who need to get jobs and back on their feet.Renowned headhunter Stephen Viscusi is seeking unemployed men and women in the greater NY or LA area who have been out of work for one (1) year of greater to participate in a career makeover project for a major TV network. Mr. Viscusi will provide significant career advice by analyzing and providing help with everything from resumes, job interview skills and wardrobe, all with the intention of getting your job, and life, back on track.Seeking individuals in EVERY field, both while and blue collar fields. Individuals must: - be between the ages of 25-50 years old - be a high school or college degree - be able to send in a current resume - have had a former annual salary between $45-100+K at one point in time - be able to list three (3) things that you've lost since being unemployed (or underemployed) - not have appeared on any other reality docu-series If you're down-and-out, looking fo…

An Open Letter to Missouri State Senator Jim Lembke

Update - 3/23/2011 - State Senator Lembke and three colleagues are continuing to filibuster the bill. Tim Sampson at the Missouri News Horizon has the story:For nearly a month, the legislation, which has already passed the House of Representatives and is expected to pass the Senate easily if ever comes up for a vote, has been blocked by an ongoing filibuster orchestrated by four conservative Senators protesting what they see as wasteful government spending.It's a position that has put Republican Senators Jim Lembke, Rob Schaaf, Brian Nieves and Will Kraus at odds with many, including their own party’s leadership, who failed to break the filibuster before lawmakers adjourned for spring break this week.Originally posted 3/02/3011(via webmail)Dear Senator Lembke,The US Bureau of Labor Statistics will publish its latest numbers over the next few days, but there are two numbers that you and your staff need to be made aware of.The first is 3.2 million - that's the total number of jo…

House GOP Willing To Chat About 99ers, H.R. 589

Arthur Delaney, writing in tonight's Huffpost Hill, reports:Republican leaders in the House of Representatives have agreed to meet with two Democrats to discuss longshot legislation for the long-term unemployed. Barbara Lee and Bobby Scott initially received zero support from Republicans for their bill to create another 14 weeks of jobless aid because doing so would add roughly $16 billion to the federal budget deficit. Lee and Scott later announced they'd be open to finding budget cuts to offset the cost of the benefits, so House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) have agreed to meet with them sometime in the next few weeks to discuss possible cuts to fund the benefits.

Paul Krugman: The Forgotten Millions

Paul Krugman, writing in the New York Times:More than three years after we entered the worst economic slump since the 1930s, a strange and disturbing thing has happened to our political discourse: Washington has lost interest in the unemployed.Jobs do get mentioned now and then — and a few political figures, notably Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House, are still trying to get some kind of action. But no jobs bills have been introduced in Congress, no job-creation plans have been advanced by the White House and all the policy focus seems to be on spending cuts.Please read Krugman's piece in its entirety. It should serve as a call to action for all of us who care about the 99ers, the unemployed and the underemployed.

Congresswoman Nita Lowey, On The Record

Just about three weeks ago, a local MoveOn representative organized an "Invest In America Speak Out" event at the local office of our Congresswoman, Nita Lowey. Rep. Lowey wasn't able to meet with us, but her District Director did. At the event, I was able to hand deliver a letter asking Rep. Lowey to co-sponsor H.R. 589.Today, I received Rep. Lowey's response, which I've quoted in full below. (text highlights mine)Thank you for contacting me regarding unemployment benefits. I appreciate the benefit of your views and welcome the opportunity to respond.On December 17, 2010, I voted for the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010. The law extends expanded unemployment benefits for thirteen months for laid-off workers, up to a maximum of 99 weeks of assistance. The previous extended benefit program expired on November 30, and the new law makes the benefits retroactive.The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has found ext…

Florida's HB7005 - An Argument For H.R 589?

The Florida State Legislature is considering a bill, HB 7005, that will restructure state unemployment insurance benefits.By "restructure" we mean "cut back". (This is the same state that wanted to require its unemployed to perform mandatory volunteer service in exchange for benefits.) Key features of the bill:State unemployment benefits would be cut from 26 to 20 weeks.If Florida's unemployment rate drops to 5%, the state would limit benefits to 12 weeks.Employers will have new authority to challenge a fired or laid-off worker's claim.Let's focus on issue 2: the state is proposing to tie unemployment benefits to the state's unemployment rate. As the unemployment rate goes down, so do benefits.
You can see where the case could be made: if the demand for workers creates a "full employment" situation (which is typically defined as 3-4% unemployment), then the odds of a worker finding a replacement job increase and the need for a full maximum …

"Speaker Boehner, Where are the jobs? "

ConcernedInKY has a talent for video production. This is his latest message: Back in December 2009, Speaker Boehner discussed the Democrats' "job-killing agenda" What a difference a year makes: in February, Speaker Boehner infamously dismissed Republican job-killing proposals with a casual "so be it." Remember, Mr. Speaker:"Americans want their leaders to focus on jobs and the challenges facing our economy"Whose words are we quoting? Speaker of the House John Boehner

On Wisconsin!

Watch live streaming video from theuptake at

Rep. Elijah Cummings speaks out against the repeal of "Bridge Loans"

(h/t Crew of 42 - if you haven't added Lauren Victoria Burke to your Twitter and RSS feeds, what are you waiting for?)If you open a dictionary and turn to the definition for "righteous anger," you'll see Congressman Elijah Cumming's speech below:

Bad News, Good News

Bad news: from tonight's HuffPost Hill:DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - House Speaker John Boehner says he hasn't read the letter from Barbara Lee and Bobby Scott, who have offered to try and find $16 billion in budget cuts to fund 14 weeks of unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed. "As Speaker Boehner walked to the House floor I asked him if he had seen the letter Reps. Lee and Bobby Scott sent to him on Wednesday, March 9th," reports Lauren Burke. "He said he had not seen the letter yet. When I asked him if there was any possibility he'd meet with Lee and Scott he simply repeated he hadn't seen the letter and walked on to the House floor for votes." [Crew of 42]
Good news: from the same article on Crew of 42:"Yesterday afternoon, as House Republicans voted to end foreclosure assistance, I spoke with Rep. Barbara Lee on the status of her unemployment insurance extension bill, H.R. 589. 'We're looking for the money, we're working w…

Seen In Tonight's HuffPost Hill

DEAR 99ERS: CONGRESS JUST ISN'T THAT INTO YOU - Barbara Lee and Bobby Scott announced yesterday they're willing to abide by the House GOP's cut-as-you-go rules in their effort to give the long-term unemployed 14 more weeks of benefits, which would be a pretty big concession since Democrats tend to insist that UI bennies be deficit spending. So far, nobody seems very interested in the offer. "The wealthy and powerful didn't have to wait for their unpaid-for tax breaks and there is no reason why these workers should have to wait for this aid that they urgently need," said Lee spokesman Joel Payne in a statement. "And if Republicans are principally opposed to providing aid for these unemployed workers to help them make ends meet and contribute to our economy, they should just say so." Just say so, you guys! (source)

Guest Post: To UCubed: I apologize.

(This is a guest post from Barry Silver, originally posted on Unemployed but Organized for the 21st Century on March 10, 2011.)In the past months I have been highly critical of UCubed in at least two posts. I didn't think my posts were mean spirited or vindictive. I still don't think that way. I felt 99ers needed more from UCubed. I still believe that, too. I must admit I was working with a wrong set of assumptions. I felt that since UCubed had a Director and a budget, UCubed should be doing more on behalf of the long term unemployed. Until this week.UCubed had been aggressively publicizing elections for state directors. On Monday, I received an email from UCubed Executive Director that elections had to be cancelled. Only one person in one state had stepped up to run. For the sake of full disclosure that one person wasn't me. As the saying goes, "When you point a finger at someone else, remember there are three fingers pointing back at you."I do believe 99ers nee…

House Democrats - Twitter Town Hall on the Budget & GOP Spending Bill

Mark your calendars for Thursday, noon Eastern timeFrom the event announcement posted on the House of Representatives Democratic Caucus website:On Thursday (March 10, 2011) House Democrats will hold a Twitter Town Hall about the Budget from noon to 1:00 PM EST.To follow along, visit or follow our Democratic Member of Congress Twitter List.To ask a question, simply add "#AskDems" to your question or e-mail, let's try to come up with a short list of questions. The one question I'd like to see answered:72 Democrats are co-sponsors of H.R. 589. Will the caucus members present who are not, add their names in support? #AskDems #99ers #HR589Let's try to engage the representatives in a positive way: please and thank you. We're all frustrated, frightened and angry at times - but a meeting with members of Congress isn't the best time to vent. We want to encourage their support, not have them recoil un…

Representatives Lee and Scott, In Letter, Request Meeting with Boehner, Cantor, Camp to Discuss Bill to Give Emergency Benefits to Long-Term Unemployed Workers

March 9, 2011

Media Contact: Joel Payne, (202) 225-2661

Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA) sent a letter to Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp requesting a meeting to discuss H.R. 589, a bill to extend emergency benefits to long-term unemployed workers. Representatives Lee and Scott introduced the legislation last month, and they want to meet with House Republican leadership to discuss options to address the costs of the bill. The legislation currently has 72 additional House co-sponsors.

H.R. 589 would provide 14 weeks of emergency unemployment benefits to workers who have exhausted all their benefits and are still unemployed. Many of these long-term unemployed workers are relying on this assistance to support their families, make ends meet and contribute to our economy.

Full Text of the Letter Below:

Dear Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader Cantor, and Chairm…

Florida Proposing Limiting Jobless Benefits (Updated)

Originally posted 2/19/2011, updated 2x belowFrom WCTV-TV:New Limits on Jobless Benefits Moves Ahead in House
Breaking along party lines, a Republican-dominated House committee Thursday okayed a proposed rewrite of state unemployment compensation laws – cutting eligibility for Florida’s jobless and making it harder to claim benefits.You can read the full story on WCTV's website.Key features of the proposed bill (HB 7005):State unemployment benefits would be cut from 26 to 20 weeks.If Florida's unemployment rate drops to 5%, the state would limit benefits to 12 weeks.Employers will have new authority to challenge a fired or laid-off worker's claim.You can track HB 7005's progress on's wrong with Florida? You may remember HB 509, a proposed bill that would have made it mandatory for the unemployed to perform community service in order to receive unemployment insurance benefits.2/25/2011 - Update 1 - the South Florida Sun-Sentinel is reporting t…

POPVOX, H.R. 589 and the 99ers

"It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much."
- Yogi Berra Congressional staffers say that messages from their constituents are getting lost. When Congress receives some 300 million emails per year, that's not hard to imagine. Add in the phone calls, letters, faxes, Facebook posts, tweets, et al, and it's no wonder that it's impossible to get a conversation going.Coming from a ten-year background working with a number of advocacy organizations, Rachna Choudhry knew the problem well. At a dinner party with Marci Harris, then a legislative counsel in Congressman Pete Stark's office, the conversation touched on ways to address the problem. Here's how Rachna described it:I first met Marci at a dinner party two years ago. When the host mentioned that she was a congressional staffer, I immediately perked up. I was, after all, working for an advocacy organization whose purpose was to inform Members of Congress and influence the p…

ISO Discouraged Workers

Media Outlet: The Washington Post
Deadline: 05:00 PM EST - 8 March

Hi everyone! I am working on a story about discouraged workers and looking to talk to folks who might fall into this category. Discouraged workers are people who would theoretically like to work, but have largely stopped looking for a job because of the economy. Perhaps they are considering this a forced early retirement, are living with family, decided to stay at home with their children or have gone back to school. Any help is much appreciated. Thanks!

CNBC Video: Unemployed Need Not Apply

(h/t @kindnessplaza)
Christine Owens, of the National Employment Law Project, discusses whether employers can discriminate against unemployed applicants. Related: Mitchell Hirsch's guest post concerning discrimination against unemployed workers by employers looking to hire.

Wise Words

Quoting House Speaker John Boehner:"Americans want their leaders to focus on jobs and the challenges facing our economy"Mr. Speaker, that is exactly right. Americans want a growing economy that creates jobs……and not, as the GOP proposes, a shrinking economy that would continue to shed jobs:"A confidential new report prepared by Goldman Sachs for its clients says spending cuts passed by the House of Representatives last week would be a drag on the economy, cutting economic growth by about two percent of GDP." (source)"(Zandi) predicted it would cut economic growth by 0.5 percentage points this year and an additional 0.2 percentage points next year, which he said would mean 700,000 fewer jobs in the U.S. by the end of 2012." (source)"Bernanke doesn't agree with Mark Zandi or Goldman Sachs about the total impact of spending cuts. But he agrees that spending cuts will have a negative effect on economic growth in the short term.""The odd thi…

As Seen On The Internets

"A unionized public employee, a member of the Tea Party and a CEO are sitting at a table. In the middle of the table is a plate with a dozen cookies on it. The CEO reaches across and takes 11 cookies, looks at the tea partier and says, 'Watch out for that union guy, he wants a piece of your cookie.'"

Recommended Reading

Dirk van Dijk is a Director of Research at Zacks Investment Research. He also writes for, and he has put together a two-part analysis on the March job report:Jobs Report in Depth, Part 1Jobs Report in Depth, Part 2It takes more than one number to get an accurate picture of the job market, and van Dijk guides the reader through the full set of numbers. It's smart, readable, and highly recommended.

Struggling Through The Recession - Letters From Vermont

This comes from the office of Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and is available as a downloadable PDF - Job Gains Improve, But High Unemployment Persists's Christine Riordan reported on today's BLS report:Today’s jobs report had some positive signs that things were picking up in February. Jobs grew by 192,000, including 222,000 in the private sector. Overall, these are better results than we've seen since the Spring of 2010. But high unemployment persists, and the average duration of unemployment continues to rise to record levels....Many more good-paying new jobs are clearly needed, month-after-month going forward, for a real recovery for America's workers. But that recovery will never materialize for many jobless workers if employers continue to discriminate against the unemployed in hiring. When jobs are created, the doors to those opportunities must be open to unemployed workers.

Bikinis to Bowties

Above, Steve Benen's monthly chart of private-sector job gains and losses.Update 1 - w00t! An incoming link from The Maddow Blog! Update 2 - This chart from CalculatedRISK, showing job losses from the start of the recession, in percentage terms, aligned at maximum job losses. The CR graph shows just how deep a hole we dug in this "Great Recession," and how much we'll need to do to climb back out of it. This chart, more than anything else, should be required reading for everyone who thinks that the national debt is the most serious problem we face. It's not. Unemployment is.Update 3 - The "unemployment rate" is one number that the press reports on, but a fuller picture needs a more in-depth discussion. This post from Dirk van Dijk at is an excellent guide to all the numbers used to discuss the employment situation. Highly recommended.

Support Working Families


The Nation: Why Washington Doesn't Care About Jobs

(h/t @Rima_Regas and @MotherJones)Chris Hayes, writing in The Nation, on why Washington has abdicated its role in promoting job creation:Remember when everyone agreed that what the American people wanted from Washington was, in John Boehner's words, a "relentless focus on creating jobs"? In the past few months the unemployment rate has barely budged, and yet lawmakers of both parties have jettisoned the jobs agenda in favor of an austerity program that will barely reduce the deficit but will almost certainly hurt employment. If the Republican proposal to trim $60 billion from the fiscal budget puts thousands out of work, well then, says Boehner, "so be it."This disconnect between the jobs crisis in the country and the blithe dismissal thereof in Washington is the most incomprehensible aspect of the political moment. But I think there are two numbers that go a long way toward explaining it.(read the full article at The Nation...)