Thursday, January 26, 2012

F**KED: The United States of Unemployment / ISO of a Movement

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Quote of the Day

"At a time when nearly 1 in 6 Americans live in poverty, charities and the free market alone can't address the urgent needs of our most vulnerable neighbors. And while jobseekers outnumber job openings 4-to-1, suggesting that the unemployed would rather collect benefits than work is misleading and insulting."

Taken from an open letter to Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, written and signed by more than 40 Catholic leaders.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Charts of the Day: A rising tide...

…lifts all the boats.

The expression has been part of our political vocabulary since the JFK Administration, and it makes intuitive sense: as the economy grows, everyone benefits.

It was true in JFK's day, and through the 1950s, 60s and 70s, but it's not at all accurate now. This 2008 chart from Lane Kenworthy (via Paul Krugman):

The gross domestic product - the wealth our nation produces - has grown relatively steadily. The median income per family - the compensation for creating that wealth - has not kept track. If it had, median family income would look like this:

It is entirely reasonable to ask why this has happened, why the rising tide seems to have benefited some more than others - and how it can be readjusted. "Median family income" is the middle of the middle class - these charts show how far behind we're falling.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Thank you, Rep. Holcomb - updated with bonus twist of fate

Arthur Delaney, in the Huffington Post, reporting on Democratic efforts to push back against the GOP's attempts to require the unemployed to submit to drug testing in order to qualify for their insurance benefits:

The past year has seen an unprecedented wave of Republican bills to drug test the poor and jobless. It also saw a smaller wave of Democratic bills that said in response, "No, you pee in the cup."

One of the most recent retorts comes from Georgia, where last month Democratic state Rep. Scott Holcomb introduced a bill requiring members of the local legislature to prove they're not Legislating Under the Influence. Holcomb told HuffPost he came up with the idea because he was struck by a bill from his Republican colleagues to drug test welfare applicants.

"I was really struck by how awful it was," he said. "I wanted to bring some attention to it."

Update: one of the Republican state representatives who originally sponsored the bill that Rep. Holcomb wanted to bring attention to, has been arrested for driving under the influence:

A Georgia Republican who wants all welfare recipients subject to drug tests failed one himself after he ran a red light on Friday morning. The Atlanta Journal Constitution has the story on State Rep. Kip Smith (R)

Republican state Rep. Kip Smith was arrested early Friday morning in Buckhead and charged with DUI, according to an Atlanta police report obtained by Channel 2 Action News.

Smith, a 29-year-old lawmaker from Columbus, was pulled over after leaving Hal's restaurant on Old Ivy Road and allegedly running a red light while traveling southbound on Peachtree Road, the police report said.

… "I observed the odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from Mr. Smith’s breath," Kramer said in his report. "He advised me he was a state representative and gave the name 'Kip Smith.'"

…The officer said Smith finally agreed to blow into the device. The report stated that Smith blew a .091., which is above the legal limit of .08.

…He was given two more breath tests, and Smith blew a .099 and then a .100, "well over the legal limit," the report said.

Smith was charged with three offenses - two DUI charges, and the third, failure to obey a traffic control device. He was released on bond

So, thank you, Rep. Smith, for bringing attention to your bill, and Rep. Holcomb's, in a way that not too many people would have seen coming.

AP: SC Makes It Harder to Get Unemployment Benefits

The AP reports on how South Carolina is dealing with their state's unemployed workers:

"A state with chronically high unemployment is making it tougher for the jobless to draw benefits by trying to force people to take lower-wage jobs and making it easier for laid-off workers to be declared ineligible.

"New policies at South Carolina's Department of Employment and Workforce require people to accept job offers that pay incrementally less than their previous wages - eventually leading to minimum wage - and reducing the number of weeks someone let go for misconduct can receive benefits.

"'We're trying to prohibit that person drawing unemployment from sitting back and not aggressively going after the jobs,' said Turner, who took the agency's helm in September. 'The jobs are there.'"

That might be a defensible argument, if indeed the jobs were there, but they aren't.

Job Openings by Region, Nov. 2011

Unemployment by State, South Region, Nov. 2011
total, South region4,821,504

Source: BLS JOLTS report, BLS via Google Public Data

4.8 million unemployed, and 1.2 million job openings. That's four unemployed people for every job opening, and that ratio is twice as high as the pre-recession average. The jobs are most definitely not there.

One thing not mentioned in the article: employers don't want to hire the unemployed, and they don't want to hire the overqualified - how will these policies provide businesses with the incentive to do so?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Orange Country Register: 600,000 California 99ers lose jobless benefits

Mary Ann Milbourn, reporting in the Orange County Register:

"The number of jobless workers in California who have exhausted their 99 weeks of unemployment benefits is approaching 600,000, the state Employment Development Department reports.

"By EDD’s latest count, more than 599,000 had been booted off the unemployment rolls as of Jan. 10. That’s equivalent to three cities with a population the size of Irvine.

"It is not known what has happened to all of those people. EDD reports there were 246,100 more people working in November 2011 than in November the previous year. So it is likely some found jobs, although not necessarily at the same pay or skill level.

"And they aren’t all necessarily working part time. The number of Californians working part time who want full-time jobs fell by 57,000 from November 2010 to November 2011.

"Some have gone back to school and others are moving back in with parents or family members.

"A recent school of thought is that more workers simply are taking early retirement at age 62, which accounts for the declining size of the U.S. workforce. Social Security statistics about early retirements for 2011 are not yet available.

"Meanwhile, the so-called 99ers who have exhausted their benefits can’t look to Congress for help.

"Over the last two years, members of Congress repeatedly have clashed over continuing the current 99 weeks of extended benefits.

"Supporters of additional benefits cite the continued high unemployment rate — 11.3% in California in November — and the fact there are four workers looking for every job advertised nationwide.

"Opponents argue that nearly two years of unemployment benefits should be enough for someone to find a job and that continued aid just encourages people not to look.

"Although Congressional leaders relented in December to a two-month extension of the current 99 weeks of benefits, there has been virtually no support for providing additional help to those who have exhausted their aid."

Salon: F**KED: The United States of Unemployment

"F**KED: The United States of Unemployment is a new video documentary series by filmmaker Immy Humes. It's about a particular group of NYC-area 99ers - long term unemployed - who are trying to not only survive but also fight back. Plus it features digressions into other realms, such as the Armies of the Unemployed in the 19th C."

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Chart of the Day: The Shrinking Middle Class

source: The Rise and Consequences of Inequality in the United States, Alan B. Kreuger (PDF link)