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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What not to do with lemons

Monday, March 28, 2011

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."

Friday, March 25, 2011

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)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

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:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

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 for a new opportunity or in an emergency situation and need a job, apply now!!! Every response will be read.

To apply, contact us at CareerMakeover@vinniep.com. Please include the following information: - Name - Age - Location - 1-3 pictures of you - Resume - Brief description of who you are and how long you've been out of work.


*underemployed - someone who's had a job and was recently demoted, forced to take a pay cut or was given additional duties with no additional pay.

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 job openings across the United States.
  • The second is 13.9 million - that's the total number of out of work Americans.

Senator, given the state of the national job market, surely you can see that your suggestion to "get two or three jobs to make ends meet" is an impractical recommendation at best.

Unemployment benefits are a financial lifeline for million of out of work Americans. Nationally, almost 1.8 million men and women have lost access to that lifeline, and it has been estimated that an additional 4 million people will lose access this year.

Would you, Senator, tell firefighters to set their hoses down when they're putting out a house on fire? Would you tell them that "99 gallons of water are enough" if the fire hasn't been extinguished yet?

I don't think you would, Senator. I think you would tell them to fight that fire until it's out. I would ask you to do the same in this instance. Let the Missouri Senate keep fighting until the work is done.

Thank you.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

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.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

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.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

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 extending unemployment compensation to be one of the most cost-effective and fast-acting ways to stimulate the economy, creating up to $1.90 in economic activity for every dollar in unemployment benefits. The Economic Policy Institute has calculated that unemployment benefits have been responsible for creating 1.1 million jobs since the recession started.

For those who have exhausted 99 weeks of benefits, rest assured that I am doing everything I can to grow the economy and create jobs. There have been twelve consecutive months of job growth, which has added 1.5 million private sector jobs. However, millions of Americans remain unemployed or underemployed, which is why I will continue to support an extension of unemployment benefits and other investments to help get more Americans back to work.

Thank you again for sharing your thoughts with me. If you would like more information on this or other issues, or to sign up for my regular e-newsletter, visit my website at www.lowey.house.gov. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can help you in any way.

Sincerely,


Nita Lowey
Member of Congress

Was it a committment to co-sponsor the bill? Unfortunately, no... at least, not in so many words. The good news is that Rep. Lowey's office replied. The better news is that they replied favorably.

Now It's Your Turn

I need your help. I need each of you reading this blog post to write to your Representative. If and when they respond, please post their response here in the comments section. If they don't respond, please let us know that, too. Bear in mind that it took three weeks to get this response. I expect that's typical. I'd like to get as many responses on the record as we can.

Monday, March 14, 2011

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:

  1. State unemployment benefits would be cut from 26 to 20 weeks.
  2. If Florida's unemployment rate drops to 5%, the state would limit benefits to 12 weeks.
  3. 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 of 26 weeks of unemployment benefits would decrease.

It would be nice to see if the legislators arrived at the 5 percent/12-week figures based on studies of past business cycles, but what's more important is this:

By making the argument that unemployment benefits can be reduced when unemployment is low, the Florida state legislature is also arguing for the converse: that unemployment benefits can be extended when unemployment is high.

That point alone should argue against cutting back the maximum limit on benefits by six weeks, or 23% - currently, Florida had the nation's third-highest unemployment rate at 11.9%

The argument that both advocates and opponents are making is actually quite similar: unemployment benefits should be targeted and temporary.

Opponents frame the issue in terms of time, however, and argue that 99 weeks should suffice for everyone. Why, exactly? What's so special about 99 weeks? Do opponents understand that benefits are already tied to unemployment rates? The EB program is either 13 or 20 weeks, based on a state's unemployment rate. Likewise, the EUC program uses multiple tiers of benefits, also tied to a state's unemployment rate. The higher the rate, the longer the benefits last, as seen here:

Advocates, on the other hand, argue that as long as the unemployment crisis exists, and as long as the demand for workers remains at historically low levels, the need for the financial lifeline of unemployment benefits also exists. In fact, the need for that lifeline is greater when times are bad, like now. H. R. 589 simply acknowledges a plainly evident fact: that the unemployment crisis is still with us, and because of that, the need to extend the financial lifeline of unemployment benefits is just as strong today after 99 weeks than it is before that arbitrary period.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

"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

chart courtesy of Gallup.com - click to enlarge

Saturday, March 12, 2011

On Wisconsin!

Watch live streaming video from theuptake at livestream.com

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:

Friday, March 11, 2011

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 with the White House and we're trying to identify the 'payfors',' Lee said. She added, 'Under the PAYGO rules, there is a provision to allow you to designate something as an 'economic emergency,' which would allow you to do something without finding the payfor"

We've seen statements from people like Christina Romer, Austan Goolsbee and Valerie Jarrett on the need to do something, but this may be the first instance in which we've seen someone say that they're working with the White House.

There is one concern, though - when the GOP took control of the House, they scrapped the PAYGO rule and replaced it with a CUTGO rule.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

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 need more from UCubed, but as another saying goes, "You can't make chicken soup from chicken poop." As I look at my reflection in the mirror do I see egg or chicken poop? I'm not sure.

So to Executive Director Rick Sloan and anyone else in UCubed, in unity-strength, I apologize. To anyone reading this not yet a member of UCubed, please join and help me get this mess off my face.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

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

Mark your calendars for Thursday, noon Eastern time

From 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 http://www.dems.gov/TwitterTownHall or follow our Democratic Member of Congress Twitter List.

To ask a question, simply add "#AskDems" to your question or e-mail Askdems@mail.house.gov.

Folks, 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 #HR589

Let'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 under a barrage of harrassment.

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 Chairman Camp:

Once again we want to express our deep concern for the plight of millions of long-term unemployed workers across the country. Last week’s unemployment numbers reflect the harsh reality that still exists – while the economy is moving in the right direction, too many workers are still looking for jobs. For every available job opening, there are 4.7 unemployed workers. And many of those workers have been unemployed for a year or longer.

The unemployment rate does not discriminate – the challenges that our constituents face in our districts are just as difficult as the challenges that your constituents are facing in western Ohio, central Virginia and central Michigan. We all have a shared obligation to help our neediest and most vulnerable populations in their hour of greatest need.

The letter we sent you last month requested your assistance in extending emergency benefits for long-term unemployed workers who had exhausted their eligibility. In addition, we requested that these benefits be considered under the emergency designation of PAYGO spending rules, a provision that would exempt emergencies from these rules.

We are disappointed that you disagreed with our belief that this is a true state of emergency for these workers. As we outlined in our previous letter, we believe there is a strong moral and economic case to extend these emergency benefits. Economic experts believe that unemployment benefits provide a stimulative impact to our economy by helping to drive consumer spending. So not only is providing these benefits the right thing to do, but it is sound economic policy.

To be clear, we maintain our position that this legislation deserves to be exempt from PAYGO spending rules under the aforementioned emergency designation, but we are committed to exhausting every possible avenue to pass this bill.

Adding an additional 14 weeks to the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program is estimated to cost up to $16 billion. We want to work with you to identify how best to finance this legislation and ensure its swift passage.

We request a meeting with you as soon as possible to discuss alternative ways to address the costs associated with H.R. 589, The Emergency Unemployment Compensation Act. We hope that you share our urgent desire to move forward on passing this legislation. There are dire consequences for millions of long-term unemployed workers who are fighting every day to make ends meet so they can support their families. It is time to get serious about taking care of our long-term unemployed workers who continue to suffer.

We look forward to your response and are hopeful that we can meet with you in the near future to discuss the importance of this bill and our plan to pass it.

Thank you for your time and consideration of this request.

Sincerely,

Barbara Lee
Member of Congress

Robert C. Scott
Member of Congress

###

Florida Proposing Limiting Jobless Benefits (Updated)

Originally posted 2/19/2011, updated 2x below

From 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 MyFloridaHouse.gov.

What'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 that HB 7005 is advancing through the Florida legislature:

Florida HB 7005 again won support, this time in the Economic Affairs Committee on Friday morning.

Democratic challenges and amendments, primarily from representatives from South Florida and Orlando, failed as the Republican-controlled committee voted to advance the bill.

Rep. Doug Holder, R-Sarasota, succeeded also with an amendment adding a clause to the bill that would retain other elements of the bill should it be challenged in court or by federal regulators. Ultimately, the U.S. Labor Department must certify any state's law that changes unemployment compensation.

Opponents to the bill also raised constitutionality issues, but mainly asked legislators not to deny six weeks of benefits and make it more difficult for Florida's unemployed to qualify for benefits.

It's important to note that Florida currently has the nation's third highest unemployment rate: 12.0%

3/9/2011 - Update 2 - the Orlando Sentinel is reporting that the Florida House has tentatively approved the bill, moving it one step closer to passage.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

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 policy-making process. Simply put, I was a lobbyist.

Instead of having a typical Washington dinner party conversation, however, (e.g. Who do you work for? What issues do you cover? What's on your "docket" right now?), we discussed the extent of the breakdown in the system. Even with the overwhelming amount of emails, letters, phone calls, faxes, literature drops, tweets and Facebook posts from individuals across the country, it was still a challenge for Congress to ascertain the positions of organizations and understand the concerns of their constituents. The signal-to-noise ratio was skewed. Congress was getting too much noise, so much so that it was interfering with the signal - the underlying message.

That's how POPVOX was born. POPVOX, which launched its public beta in January, is one of those "so simple, it's brilliant" ideas. It gives ordinary citizens like you and me a way to make our voices heard in Congress. It also gives grassroots organizations, which may not have the resources of the professional lobbying groups, a place to make their positions known. Last, but not least, it simplifies the process for Congressional staffers by putting information about issues, opinions and bills into an easy-to-digest legislative docket.

The website is very easy to use. In our conversation for this article, Rachna mentioned that POPVOX passed the "mom test" - she recruited both her and Marci's mothers as test users and asked them to use the site without any assistance. The moms came away with a positive experience.

Because it offers people the option of commenting on bills, POPVOX can put a human face on legislation. One bill that we in the 99er community are very interested in is H.R. 589, the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Expansion Act of 2011. One of the comments by a supporter tells an all-too-common tale, but one that needs to be heard:

"I have been actively seeking employment for over 2 years. I lost my job through no fault of my own. I returned to school & aquired more skills. I've worked most of my life & never had a problem securing & retaining jobs. I am almost 60 years old. I have used all my safety nets. I am a burden on my family. With UE compensation I can least contribute something. I miss working, I enjoy working. I don't want to collect UE benefits but the reality is that I need them desparately. I would use those funds immediately to pay for basic goods & services which in turn will help stimulate the economy."

That message will go directly to the commenter's Member of Congress, Representative Allen West in Florida's 22nd Congressional district. It will also be available on the site for anyone in Congress, like Representatives Barbara Lee and Bobby Scott, who focus on the issue of unemployment. It will be public for every person interested in the bill.

Because it offers organizations of all sizes the opportunity to register their positions on bills, POPVOX can also amplify the voice of the small, grassroots organization. Rachna used the analogy of Blockbuster vs. Netflix: Blockbuster has all the major titles in stock, but Netflix also has the smaller films that didn't get that much exposure. POPVOX, like Netflix, gives the smaller guys a chance, and opens access beyond the major advocacy groups. Again, using the example of the 99ers, the different advocacy groups are now starting to register their presence and their positions on H.R. 589. One group, the American 99ers Union, represents several smaller groups. We're seeing the beginning of a network effect, where the more organizations support a bill, the more will join in.

I asked Rachna about user registrations: for POPVOX to be most effective, people need to give the site their name and address. POPVOX verifies that information and uses it to match people with their Representatives. When POPVOX delivers constituent messages to Congress, staffers can be sure that they're looking at their home district's opinions, and that's one reason why Rachna has gotten positive feedback about the registration process from users.

How can the 99er community use POPVOX?

First, simply by using it. Each 99er who registers and adds their support adds their voice to a growing chorus that POPVOX can further amplify. Second, by encouraging family, friends and supporters to do the same. Next, for those of us with a story to tell, POPVOX offers a platform from which to tell it, and an audience that's there to listen. And, just as with individuals, groups who register, endorse bills and record their position statements make it easier for the groups who follow.

It's not about quantity, though: when I asked Rachna if there was a number (of supporters, groups, etc.) that could ensure a Congressman would be influenced, her reply was that POPVOX was more about the quality of the messages, and how that could influence decision making during the legislative process more than a number could.

POPVOX is one of many tools in the advocacy toolkit. Its ease of use, its ability to verify constituent voices and its ability to make those voices heard by the right people at the right time, should make it the first tool on the list for us.

As we were ending our interview, Rachna mentioned that POPVOX is a finalist in the SXSW Accelerator competition. Best of luck to the POPVOX team!

Monday, March 7, 2011

ISO Discouraged Workers

Email: query-10yv@helpareporter.com
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.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

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

chart courtesy of Gallup.com - click to enlarge

…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 thing here is that Bernanke is saying that a policy will kill some jobs, and it's not being covered, for the most part, like he's saying the policy will kill jobs." (source)

Please listen to the American people: the voters who elected you to office. Your "so be it" quote and your legislative efforts to date are doing nothing to improve the American economy or the job market.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

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 DailyMarkets.com, and he has put together a two-part analysis on the March job report:

It 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.

Friday, March 4, 2011

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

It appears your Web browser is not configured to display PDF files. No worries, just click here to download the PDF file.

UnemployedWorkers.org - Job Gains Improve, But High Unemployment Persists

UnemployedWorkers.org'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

click to embiggen

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 DailyMarkets.com is an excellent guide to all the numbers used to discuss the employment situation. Highly recommended.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

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...)