Saturday, January 29, 2011

99ers Not Going to Take It

The latest piece from ConcernedInKY:

An Uncertain Future After Jobless Benefits Expire

We've covered the story of Bud Meyers, one of Nevada's #99ers, before.

Now, the Associated Press has an interview with Bud.

More than two years after Meyers lost his job as a Las Vegas Strip bartender and nearly eight months after he exhausted his unemployment benefits, it has come to this: a careful inventory of a life's possessions and the hopeless embrace of a future as a middle-aged homeless man.

"I can't believe this is happening to my life," Meyers, 55, said on a recent afternoon, as he surveyed the one-bedroom apartment he must soon abandon. "It's a social holocaust."

The full story is posted on the AP wires.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Open for Questions: The State of the Union and the Economy

Update: Michael Thornton, the Rochester Unemployment Examiner who has been providing extensive coverage of the 99ers, reports on Austan Goolsbee's roundtable:

I wrote Mr. Keller prior to his appearance and he was glad to have the opportunity to represent and Examiner's readers at the question and answer forum. I mentioned to Mr. Keller that many 99ers would appreciate having their issue raised to Mr. Goolsbee and Mr. Keller didn't disappoint. He mentioned that 75% of Examiners' responses were concerned about long-term unemployment.

From the White House:

Austan Goolsbee, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, answers questions about the economics issues the President discussed in his State of the Union Address in a roundtable discussion.'s Jay Keller presented a question on behalf of the 99ers. Fast forward to 06:58 for the question and Goolsbee's reply.

Florida's H. B. 509 - A Bad Idea

Update: from The Political Carnival - Unemployed Floridians bristle at being called lazy, incompetent

A new bill, H. B. 509, has been introduced in the Florida House of Representatives. Marcia Heroux Pounds, writing in the South Florida Sun Sentinel, reports:

A bill introduced this week by Rep. Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples) would make four hours of volunteer service mandatory for each week of jobless benefits.

H.B. 509 would change eligibility so that an unemployed individual could receive benefits only if the Agency for Workforce Innovation confirms that she or he has volunteered for a minimum of four hours for that week for a nonprofit organization.

The requirement also would apply to those receiving extended benefits.

In December, then Gov.-elect Rick Scott's transition team recommended that the state's unemployed receiving 12 or more weeks of benefits do community service.

State unemployment compensation is an insurance benefit.

  • Imagine going to the doctor's office or to the hospital, and filing a claim for medical insurance, only to be told that your claim will be processed after you submit proof that you've performed community service.
  • Imagine being in a fender bender, and filing an insurance claim for your car, only to be told that your claim will be processed after you submit proof that you've performed community service.
  • Imagine a storm damaging your house, and filing a claim for homeowner's insurance, only to be told that your claim will be processed after you submit proof that you've performed community service.

Encouraging volunteerism, especially among the unemployed, is a great idea. Mandatory community service, in exchange for an insurance benefit that has already been paid for, is a bad idea.

One other point: Extended benefits (EUC and EB) are paid for by Federal dollars, not state. Federal law preempts state law. The state cannot attach conditions to a Federal program.

Monday, January 24, 2011

1.4 Million Have Been Out Of Work For 99 Weeks Or Longer: Congressional Research Service

UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal's Real-Time Economics blog picks up on the story: "99ers More Likely to Be Older, Married, Minority"

Arthur Delaney, writing in The Huffington Post:

There are 1.4 million "very long-term unemployed" who have been out of work for 99 weeks or longer, according to a new report from the Congressional Research Service.
The 1.4-million figure, calculated using the latest data available as of October, is much smaller than some home-cooked estimates circulated online by advocates for additional weeks of benefits for these "99ers." Some of those estimates are as high as 7 million.

The full CRS report is available as a PDF.

(Editor's note) Based on the CRS' report, we will continue to use the BLS numbers as provided to provide a month-by-month look at the 99ers.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Guest Post: Technology, Unemployment, and Our Children’s Future

This is a guest post from Hunter Richards of Software Advice.

IT spending has risen dramatically over the last 40 years…

Rise in IT Expenditures

IT spending has steadily risen since 1970. Trendlines and new opportunities like cloud computing suggest that the current dip in spending is only temporary.

…making us more productive…

Productivity on the Rise

Technology has made labor more productive. There's a long-term upward trend in labor output rates, and it isn't slowing down.

…which has led to rapid growth in corporate profits.

Growth in Profits

The resulting productivity has been great for business – greater productivity means higher profits. But these profits don't benefit everyone. They accrue to the executives and shareholders.

Friday, January 21, 2011

"Pretty Awesome Teamwork"

Update: 9 News in Denver, CO has picked up the story: "99ers band together to save a life"

An example of the potential for good that social media offers.

@ConcernedinKY posted a video to YouTube: Important Message to all 99ers

In response, a commenter, PeterInFremont, posted:

I have no choice but to give up. My rent is due tomorrow (21st) and I have 18 bucks and change in my pocket. Tonight? will be last time I'd sleeping on a bed in a warm room, I dont think I will last on the streets, conceivably, tomorrow will be last time I wake up.

I am not religious man, but, may God helps whom still hanging on the hope one day their life will be back to "normal". I thank God that I don't have anyone counting on me for their survival.

May God bless you all.

On Twitter, suzeyQ41 notices Peter's comment and posts a call for help:

Help! #99ers! One of us is in trouble! Read comments!

@KimDoyleWille takes it from there:

@suzeyQ41 @JanettThinks @rochellesevier I'M ON IT! @ConcernedinKY emailed me 20 min ago. Police are notified and on way here & YouTube #!

Some of what followed over the next few hours:

@ConcernedinKY - @KimDoyleWille I wouldn't have known what to do or where to begin getting that done. Thank you for helping me. #99ers.
@KimDoyleWille - @ConcernedinKY U R welcome & THANKS 4 being SO ALERT! Luckily I worked w/courts for 11 yrs & tracked cyber-criminals so I can help! #99ers
@KimDoyleWille - I know. The minutes are *dragging* by. *Waiting* 4 next call. RT @ConcernedinKY: @KimDoyleWille It's almost 2 in the morning here. :(
@KimDoyleWille - @ConcernedinKY I JUST got a call and they've talked to YouTube, have his IP address and are tracking his location thru Comcast! #99ers #pray
@KimDoyleWille - YES! They R being VERY GOOD about keeping me in loop! RT @ConcernedinKY: @KimDoyleWille Will they let U know if they find him? #99ers #pray
@KimDoyleWille - The police R almost on scene. RT @ConcernedinKY: @KimDoyleWille Damnit, the media needs to see that entire thread. :( They need to LISTEN!
@KimDoyleWille - I've been on phone w/police & they've "made contact at the door". RT @ConcernedinKY: @KimDoyleWille Oh GOD! Did you see his latest post?!
@KimDoyleWille - @ConcernedinKY I have REAL admiration 4 my local Eagle County Deputy Dave as HE was one who followed thru 2.5 hrs of tracing him 4 Fremont!
@KimDoyleWille - I've just received a call & CAN CONFIRM PeterinFremont is in protective custody & that he said Thanks to all the #99ers who reached out. :^)

The Denver Post reported the story:

A despondent California man received help early this morning thanks to the Internet, a Colorado resident and a fast-acting sheriff's deputy.

A longtime out-of-work Fremont, Calif., man posted a message on an Internet forum Thursday night that was spotted by an El Jebel resident, and the concerned Colorado woman called the Eagle County Sheriff's Office for help.

The sheriff's deputy, with the help of the FBI in Denver, was able to trace the Internet posting to a residence in Fremont and police there contacted the 41-year-old man, without incident, and took him to a local hospital for help.

"They probably saved the life of someone they didn't even know or may never meet," said Shannon Cordingly, an Eagle County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman.

Cordingly said the man posted the message on an Internet forum for "99ers," people who have been out of work for more than 99 weeks.

After reading the posting, the El Jebel woman called the Eagle County Sheriff's Office at about 9:30 p.m. Thursday seeking help.

The Eagle deputy called the FBI in Denver because he knew federal authorities would be able to "get an emergency disclosure address as quickly as possible," Cordingly said.

"It was certainly the type of thing where time was of the essence," Cordingly said. "It was definitely pretty awesome teamwork."

Thursday, January 20, 2011

News From Crew of 42: Reps. Lee, Scott Get 99er Bill Ready

The latest news from Lauren Victoria Burke at Crew of 42:

Today, I spoke briefly with Rep. Barbara Lee, who along with Rep. Bobby Scott, pushed legislative language to help people who have already ran through their unemployment insurance (the 99ers). The two lawmakers offered legislation in late December to help the 99ers after a push to add the language to the $800 billion tax bill failed. Look for them to re-introduce 99er legislation within the next three weeks.
(read the full story on

Towards a More-Comprehensive Estimate of UI Exhaustees - the 99ers

The term "99ers" describes those people who meet the following three conditions:

  1. They are unemployed;
  2. They are still looking to find work;
  3. They have exhausted their state and federal unemployment benefits.

They're called 99ers because 99 weeks is the maximum limit for benefits:

The various tiers of EUC and EB are based on, and triggered by, a state's unemployment rate. This chart from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities breaks down the tiers of the EUC and EB programs:

There are two important points to note:

  1. Not all UI exhaustees have reached a maximum limit of 99 weeks: some people will still be looking for work and exhaust benefits at 60 weeks. Some will hit their state's maximum limit at a point between 73 and 93 weeks. This blog will refer to every UI exhaustee as a 99er, regardless of the individual state maximum limits.
  2. Because of our focus on the 99ers, this blog does not factor in people who are underemployed and people who have left the workforce entirely.

Going forward, we'll identify current and potential UI exhaustees in two separate categories, based on how many weeks they've been out of work:

60-98 weeksPeople nearing or at their state's maximum limits for EUC and EB programs
99 weeks and overall state, EUC and EB benefits exhausted

Let's use the latest data as an example. These numbers come from the monthly Current Population Survey, Table 38 - Duration of unemployment by single weeks of unemployment. For December, 2010, the numbers look like this:

Number of weeksNumber of Unemployed (thousands)
0-25 weeks7,387
26-59 weeks4,197
60-98 weeks947
99 weeks and over1,467
Total unemployed13,998

Looking at the December numbers, we can see that the number of 'pure' 99ers is 1.467 million - these men and women are out of work and have exhausted the 99-week maximum limit on benefits and emergency compensation. There are an additional 947,000 men and women who are 'on the bubble' in the 60-98 week category: these people are about to reach their state's maximum limit, if they haven't already.

This blog will update its statistical reporting to incorporate the 60-98 week category, in order to more thoroughly report on the extent of the 99ers.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Examiner: As Tier 5 Unemployment Extension Fades, Agencies Try to Help 99ers

Naomi Cohn, writing as the National Unemployment Examiner, reports:

The New York State Department of Labor has started a new page on its website directed at the long-term unemployed, including 99ers, a department spokesperson said yesterday.

Both the federal government and the states are attempting to deal with increasing numbers of long-term unemployed, both those who have exhausted all available benefits - the 99ers - and those who are slated to do so within the next few months.

Jobs, not 'deficit,' should be the focal point of the State of the Union

From John Amato at Crooks and Liars:

Focusing on the deficit only strengthens the GOP's hold over this administration and the media narrative, when what Americans are really interested in JOBS. Republicans only care about the deficit when they can use it like a sledgehammer to pulverize any Democratic administration as a way to justify their insane beliefs that the working class are only cattle to be used as goods.

(full article)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Do Extended Unemployment Benefits Increase Unemployment?

h/t Kim Doyle Wille

According to a report prepared by Goldman Sachs, no.

Some commentators have argued that extended unemployment insurance (UI) benefits are the key reason for high unemployment in the United States. Using data from 20 OECD countries we present evidence to the contrary. Our results suggest that only ½ percentage point of the current 9.4% jobless rate can be explained by the extension of UI benefits. Moreover, our calculations suggest that this effect will fade when the extended benefits eventually expire. These estimates—broadly in line with a recent study by the San Francisco Fed—reinforce our view that the overwhelming share of unemployment is cyclical rather than structural.

The full story was published on The Awl.

Ninety-Niners Want To Be Heard

In her own words, 99er Dawn Rayner shares frustration of long-term unemployed. ABC News reports:

Monday, January 17, 2011

An Interview With Bud Meyers

Nicole Sanders, who started the website and who has lent her voice in support of the long-term unemployed, interviewed Bud Meyers, whose online posting has caught the attention of CNN, the Huffington Post (here and here) and other media outlets, on her radio show today. The discussion begins at the 1:45:10 mark.

From Wall Street to Main Street

Americans are still looking for work even as banks' outlook brightens. ABC News reports:

A Man's Tale of Jobless Benefits

The fate of the 99ers comes to a head when one man appears to threaten suicide over the loss of his job. CNN's Ali Velshi reporting:

Employer Discrimination Against The Unemployed Must End

This article, written by Mitchell Hirsch, has been cross-posted from with permission.

When Michelle Chesney-Offutt was laid off from her job in 2008, just two days before Christmas and five days before her 19-year anniversary with an IT service provider, it was certainly bad enough. Then, last year, after a daily and seemingly endless job search, she received a call from a headhunter, who had obtained her online resume, and was excited about her qualifications. Eager to schedule an interview for Michelle with his client, the headhunter suddenly recanted when he noticed that she had been out for work for more than a year.

"When he realized this, he was very apologetic," she wrote to us recently, "but had to admit to me that he would not be able to present me for an interview due to the 'over 6 month unemployed' policy that his client adhered to." The headhunter, she told us, explained to her that his client had expressly prohibited him from referring workers who had been unemployed for six months or more. "He was embarrassed, and I think he felt guilty when he realized that I had been unemployed for more than a year, and therefore was automatically disqualified for the position."

"I also remember how I felt," Michelle said. "Another slap in the face."

The 53-year old from Sandwich, Illinois, had been a hard-working, successful IT help desk supervisor, contracted for nearly two decades to service a major equipment manufacturer headquartered in Peoria, through a third-party provider. Laid off, she was told, "due to the economic downturn" she had been engaged in an extensive and exhaustive job search for a year and a half when she got that call from the headhunter which suddenly lifted her hopes -- and then just as suddenly dashed them once again.

When she wrote to us, she explained that she had recently exhausted all 99 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits for which she had been eligible. She's been without health insurance since the federal COBRA subsidy was discontinued, unable to afford the premiums on the income from her unemployment insurance. And now those benefits too have ended. The process of getting her mortgage restructured, and her monthly payments reduced, in turn affected her credit. When I spoke with her this week, she was applying to SNAP for food stamps. "I applied for welfare yesterday," she added. "This is a first for me."

The issue of discrimination against unemployed workers by employers looking to hire has not yet received the attention it deserves. Stories like this one about disturbing job ads began surfacing last summer. This past fall, similar stories appeared in the press. As we reported here in November, those stories and others prompted Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) and fifty-eight members of Congress to urge an inquiry by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

While there is no federal legislation expressly prohibiting employers from barring unemployed workers from consideration in hiring, the practice may rise to a threshold level of "disparate impact" in that both older workers and minority workers are represented in disproportionately large numbers among the unemployed, and especially among the long-term unemployed.

Regardless of legal liability, in instances of discrimination by employers against the unemployed -- the practice is an outrage!

The latest jobs report from the Labor Department tallied more than 14.5 million Americans officially unemployed. Of those, 6.4 million were unemployed for 27 weeks or more. The official unemployment rate has been above 9 percent for 20 consecutive months. And these continuing high levels of massive unemployment are themselves a primary drag on the ability of the economy to recover from the most severe and persistent downturn since the Great Depression.

Bringing unemployment down by putting unemployed workers back to work in good-paying, productive jobs is the most crucial component of any sustained economic recovery. Yet, too many employers, it appears, just don't care. Not only are they not creating enough jobs to bring down unemployment. But, it appears, too often the job openings they do have are considered off-limits to unemployed workers.

Just how pervasive is the practice of discriminating against the unemployed? A story by Laura Bassett in today's Huffington Post, titled 'How Employers Weed Out Unemployed Job Applicants, Others, Behind the Scenes', quotes a recruiter as saying that companies often tell them "'We don't want to see a resume from anyone who's not working.' It happens all the time."

Clearly, were it not for this discrimination, people like Michelle Chesney-Offutt could very well be working again today. But ending this discriminatory practice will likely take more people like Michelle speaking up.

"Instead of being discriminated against for being unemployed," she said, "we need an unemployed workers affirmative action policy."

Monday, January 3, 2011

Depression Economics: What happens to people when their unemployment insurance runs out and they still can't find a job?

Annie Lowrey, who has been covering the 99ers for Slate and the former Washington Independent, has a new article online:

"...the recession has not meant just more joblessness. It has also meant longer joblessness. The average length of a spell of unemployment now sits at 30 weeks, after hitting a high of 35 weeks in July. About 6.3 million people, 42 percent of all unemployed Americans, have been out of work for more than six months. And more than 1 million have exhausted their unemployment benefits. They're called 99ers. (The term, coined this year, refers to the maximum weeks of benefits in the states with the highest unemployment rates.) There are about 1.6 million of them, according to the Department of Labor. And they raise the question: What happens when unemployment insurance ends?

The article continues by profiling a 99er from the Boston area, a woman named Rochelle Sevier:

At first, Sevier fell victim to her experience: She was overqualified for the jobs she was applying for. "I started applying for minimum-wage jobs, but they said they wouldn't hire me, because when the economy gets better, I'd leave them." Then, she fell victim to her own joblessness: Employers just don't like to hire people who have been out of work for long, she says. "I need a job now, and I just think that these companies have to stop prejudging us [99ers]. If anything, they should be hiring us because we have experience—I mean, I've got a master's—and we'll work harder." So Sevier, like millions of others, has applied for the aid she can get: food stamps ("I'm so embarrassed. I never thought I'd have to do that") and heating-fuel assistance ("It's cold").

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Scott & Lee: A holiday miracle for 99ers?

via Crew of 42:

Representatives Bobby Scott and Barbara Lee, writing in the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

We plan to push for passage of our "99er" bill into the 112th Congress. We know we have a tough road ahead, but after all, it is the season of miracles. With your support, we can help these conservative "Grinches" grow hearts and vote to help these hard-working Americans get back on their feet. Extending unemployment benefits to buy a little more time for the "99ers" and other exhaustees is the least we can do.

Reps. Scott and Lee introduced HR 6556 during the lame duck session of the 111th Congress.

Mikal Donovan - Bring Back the American Dream

"Our ancestors came to this great nation with nothing but hopes and dreams in their pockets. Now those hopes and dreams have been stolen from millions of hard working, American people that are unable to find work during this recession. Give them back the American Dream. Extend UI for all until jobs are created. To see other videos in the series subscribe to youtube channel:​user/​concernedinKY"

Rant and Rave - 2011 Showdown: 99ers vs. Washington, DC

smartygirl at RantRave just published a piece that's worth reading in full. The key quote (emphasis mine):

What's next? Well silence is not an option. The 99ers will never get ahead on their plight if we do not get the media involved. Groups of 99ers interviewing together would get even more attention. I spoke to a reporter out in Washington State and he told me the problem is not enough 99ers have come forward to tell their stories. Guess what, the local media are very interested in the 99ers, so it is time to step out of the shadows and reveal ourselves in 2011. The only way is to rally the country behind us as soon as congress and the senate return from the holiday break. It is equally important to continue the faxes, phone calls and emails to the media, president, governors, senators and congress. Never let up for one moment. At one time I even had an idea for all 99ers to mail your resumes to your elected official with a note on it asking "where are the jobs?"