Saturday, April 23, 2011

Stories of the Great Recession - Over 50 and Out of Work

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Related: Is YouTube changing Congress? ‘Speechless’ delivers a loud message – silently. (The Christian Science Monitor)

Let me see if I understand this correctly...

North Carolina, like most states, is facing a budget shortfall. The state needs to fill a $2.4 billion budget gap.

You might think that NC's legislators are looking at various ways to address the issue, and you would be right.

Gov. Bev Purdue proposed a budget back in February that in her words, balances the budget through 72% spending cuts and 28% revenue growth.

In response, the Republican General Assembly called for an additional 13% in spending cuts as a starting point for the budget negotiations.

So far, so good - different parties, different branches, different priorities. That's the normal legislative process.

But then, there's this reporting from the Associated Press:

RALEIGH -- Forced by Republican legislators to choose between halting unemployment benefits for about 37,000 people and accepting a double-digit budget cut, Gov. Beverly Perdue on Saturday vetoed legislation that would have kept checks flowing.

The legislation would have changed a formula for calculating unemployment benefits and allowed the federally funded program to continue for people out of work for up to 99 weeks. But poison-pill language added by Republican lawmakers would have forced Perdue to also accept a 13 percent cut from the spending plan she proposed as a starting point for negotiations over the budget year starting in July.

Reuters provides additional information:

North Carolina was one of more than 30 states in which an extended benefits program of up to 20 weeks of compensation was created to provide support for the long-term unemployed affected by the economic recession.

The U.S. Labor Department notified state officials two weeks ago that the extended benefits program had to stop paying out by April 16 because North Carolina's recent three-month average unemployment rate had improved statistically from the depressed rates of 2010 and 2009.

Fourteen states have passed legislation to revise their formula and keep the extended benefits flowing.

What is it about the GOP that makes them willing to use the unemployed as hostages? As a bargaining chip for their fiscal priorities? That's exactly what's happening here.

What's even worse is that the NC state assembly is linking a Federal program (the Emergency Benefits program) to their state budget "negotiations."

That makes no sense at all, and it's reminiscent of what Missouri State Senator Jim Lembke did when he blocked votes on Federal unemployment benefits for people in his state.

Update: how one person is being affected by the NC "hostage negotiations":

Chuck Ball of Reidsville knows what it's like to be unemployed, as he is among them. He was laid off last fall after spending 34 years in the workforce.

"I've got applications and resumes everywhere. Nothing has happened. I go to the unemployment office, and they say, 'Don't even look for work here. There's no work here," Ball said.

Along with typical everyday purchases, Ball spends $500 in medical bills a month due to being diabetic.

"I'm going to lose this place. I'm probably going to have to give my stuff away. I'll have to pack up and live in my truck. I don't know how I will exist doing that. Being a diabetic you have to have food. It's not a good outlook," Ball said.

Ball began selling his personal possessions last year, including his Birmingham Roller Pigeons, which won first place in the state last year in one category. He feels frustrated that the unemployed are being used as a political pawn.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Volunteers needed for "Job Party" video

Are you upset about the current economic situation? Do you think the government can do more to create jobs? Then we want to hear from you.

The Job Party, a broad-based grassroots movement to create jobs and promote a progressive economic vision, is shooting a video this Saturday. We are looking for people to offer short statements on the economy and the need for jobs. It can be one sentence or several minutes -- whatever is on your mind. We will be editing this together for a video coming out next week.

We will be shooting these statements on Saturday, April 9th, just before the "We Are One" labor solidarity rally on Times Square. The rally starts at noon. Join us at Bryant Park at 11am and take 5 minutes to record your statement.

If you can join us, please contact -- include your name, email, phone number (we won't share that with anyone else).

Reuters: IFR Preview - major US data for release April 7

In advance of Thursday's weekly jobless claims report, Reuters provided commentary from Vimombi Nshom, an economist at IFR Markets:

"Adjusting to new seasonal factors -- expecting negligible change for the week ending April 2 -- jobless claims for unemployment insurance will stutter up to 392,000. Unadjusted claims had a relatively flat reading this past week, (and as a result claims inched down 6k to 388k) leaving room for an insignificant seasonally adjusted increase when paired with a flat seasonal expectation.

Continued filings appear to be improving 100k every month. With two more weeks of March data to come in, having just fallen to 3.714 mln, continued filings are poised to round to the high 6s, 3.685 mln for the week ending March 26.

The number of 99ers (claimants who have exhausted their full 99 weeks of extended and emergency benefits) is probably increasing at an accelerated rate, which could partly explain the recent significant drops in unemployment. Those no longer able to file for claims may no longer claim to be seeking work, and could thus drop out of the labor force."

You might remember that back in December, the Council of Economic Advisers projected an additional 4 million 99ers in 2011.

Congress, would you rather pay for 1.8 million 99ers, or for 5.8 million of us?

"Cost prohibitive" indeed.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

USA Today: CEO pay soars while workers' pay stalls

At a time most employees can barely remember their last substantial raise, median CEO pay jumped 27% in 2010 as the executives’ compensation started working its way back to prerecession levels, a USA TODAY analysis of data from GovernanceMetrics International found. Workers in private industry, meanwhile, saw their compensation grow just 2.1% in the 12 months ended December 2010, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The big increases in executive compensation are difficult for workers to swallow, given that many Americans are struggling just trying to find a job or make ends meet, says Alan Johnson of executive pay consulting firm Johnson Associates. "The fact this makes us all squirm is true."
(full story on

Unemployment hits 2-year low

The Labor Department released the best jobs report in two years, showing unemployment down to 8.8 percent. But, as Anthony Mason reports, the long-term unemployed are facing a new obstacle to finding work.