Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Sunday, February 19, 2012
Saturday, February 18, 2012
Update: 60 Minutes will feature a story about the Platform to Employment program this Sunday. A preview:
Rob Varnon, writing in the Financial Mines blog:
The WorkPlace Inc.'s Platform to Employment program to help long-term unemployed over the age of 50 find new careers received a $200,000 boost in funding from the AARP.
The WorkPlace, a nonprofit that handles the job placement and training for the state, started its P2E program last year inviting 100 people who had exhausted 99 weeks of unemployment to participate. The people, dubbed 99ers, were given classes and employment subsidized through private sector grants. The WorkPlace said so far, 50 of the first participants have been placed in jobs.
The AARP grant will support intensive core skills as well as occupational training for the program.
"The current economic uncertainty has left many older Americans concerned about making ends meet," said Phyllis L. Kim, AARP Foundation senior vice president, Office of Grants Administration. "AARP Foundation is already in communities across the country helping vulnerable Americans with direct services, but we believe strongly that we must also invest in long-term solutions. We look forward to working with our innovative grantees who share our goals so that together, we can seed hope for older Americans who are struggling."
"Platform to Employment is the only project of its kind in the nation and it is already has shown promising results in placing participants in jobs," said Joe Carbone, President & CEO of The WorkPlace. "We have seen a number of socially responsive employers, good corporate citizens, step forward and consider hiring local workers through P2E."
Representative Nan Hayworth is a freshman member of Congress who represents the NY 19th. She released this statement concerning the payroll tax deal:
"Today the Conference Committee agreed to a report extending the payroll tax holiday, federal contribution to unemployment benefits, and current Medicare reimbursement rates for doctors. I have always supported these programs, and in recent days I've been privileged to be a highly visible advocate for providing the greatest possible certainty to hardworking taxpayers, job-creating employers, the growing ranks of unemployed Americans, and our seniors and doctors who rely on Medicare. Our agreement here today is a result of Republicans and Democrats coming together to serve our constituents and the American people."
In New York State alone, over 446,000 men and women have had to participate in the Extended Benefits program since July 2008. As of April 2011, ten months ago, over 218,000 New Yorkers exhausted their benefits.
Representative Hayworth, the only certainty you've provided to the "growing ranks of unemployed Americans" is the certainty that the unemployment benefits they rely on will be taken away from them.
Is that an accomplishment worth commending?
GAO was asked to examine: (1) how many of the workers who lost jobs in the recession received and exhausted UI; (2) what are the economic circumstances of those who exhausted UI, and how many received support from TANF and other programs; and (3) the extent to which UI agencies refer those exhausting UI to other support programs. GAO analyzed data from the Current Population Survey’s 2008 and 2010 Displaced Worker Supplements and the 2010 Annual Social and Economic Supplement and data from the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services. GAO also surveyed 51 state UI agencies and conducted interviews with 16 state TANF agencies, selected to reflect a range of unemployment rate changes in recent years.
"Among the 15 million workers who lost jobs from 2007 to 2009, half received Unemployment Insurance (UI), and about one-fourth of the recipients exhausted UI benefits by January 2010. This represents 2 million displaced workers who exhausted UI as of early 2010, the most recent survey data available. Labor estimated that about an additional 3-1/2 million individuals exhausted benefits in 2010 and 2011."
The full report (PDF link) is online at the GAO's website.
Friday, February 17, 2012
Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI) today made the following statement on the floor of the House of Representatives in support of the H.R. 3630 Conference agreement:
The basic fact is that this legislation is very different from the December House Republican bill. Very different. And any efforts to mask that are false. That House bill was the main bill before the Conference Committee. The basic fact is the Conference Committee made major changes to the House bill that passed in December essentially on a partisan basis. And therefore this legislation is much better for the American people.
It's also very different in terms of unemployment insurance. Let's be clear about that. The bill that the Republicans passed through the House that was the main bill before the Conference Committee would have slashed 40 weeks of unemployment insurance for millions of Americans. And this bill essentially changes what was in the House bill. It extends unemployment insurance through the rest of the year up to 99 weeks through May, up to 79 weeks through August and up to 73 weeks through December, depending on the level of unemployment.
Let me just say, our Chairman has talked about the requirement that people look for work. That's already in the law of every state. That isn't a meaningful “reform.” In terms of job search, everybody not only registers but also, as I said, is required to look for work. And you know, I find it an insult to the unemployed of this country to say essentially that we're simply giving them a check instead of a paycheck. If you talk to the unemployed laid off through no fault of their own, they are looking for work. They had a paycheck -- in most cases year after year after year. They work for their unemployment insurance, and to simply label this an effort to get people off of unemployment insurance, unemployment insurance is not a welfare program. People work for it and they need that assistance as they look for work.
The bill that passed through the House had a GED requirement. That's out. To say to people, you don't get a check if you're not in a GED program when there are 160,000 people in this country who are on waiting lists, that's out of here because it deserved to be out of here. And in terms of the Republican effort to test people for drugs, the agreement is very limited. So it is really masking the reality to call this major reform.
So let me just say in closing, this agreement provides tax relief to working families, a framework for the year for unemployed workers, and a real commitment -- and I emphasize this -- by us Democrats to pursue efforts to strengthen the economy and boost job growth so that those hardest hit by the recession can return to work as they desperately want to. And I just want to reiterate how wrong the Speaker was when he said, “Let's be honest, this is an economic relief package, not a bill that's going to grow the economy and create jobs.” The opposite is true. The provisions in this bill will help to continue economic growth. Most economists say that. Unemployment insurance, people spend it, and that is not only good for their subsistence but good for the economy of our country. For all those reasons I urge support of this Conference Committee agreement.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Quoting from the Washington Post:
In addition, the two sides reached a tentative plan to reform unemployment benefits, reducing the maximum time frame to benefit from the jobless insurance program to 73 weeks in the states with the hardest-hit economies.
Dammit, Congress - why are you so willing to throw the unemployed overboard?
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Saturday, February 11, 2012
"We are systematically destroying our customer base in this country by undercutting the middle class"
Henry Blodget at The Daily Ticker interviewed Nick Hanauer, an entrepreneur who's making a business case for higher taxes on the rich.
A second notable quote from the interview:
"Corporate profits are at a 50-year high, while unemployment is also at a 50-year high. If it was true that the rich and business were the job creators, we'd be drowning in jobs today."
Thursday, February 9, 2012
Heidi Shierholz, writing in US News' Economic Intelligence blog:
…it is not that millions of workers now lack the necessary skills, or have become unproductive, or would rather be on unemployment insurance benefits.
The finding that the increase in unemployment duration is predominantly due to weak demand for workers means that it is not the unemployed workers' fault that they can't find jobs, employers simply do not have work for people to do.
And with that, the updated JOLTS ratio (source: FRED). Before the Great Recession, you can see that we averaged about two workers for every job opening nationwide. Today, that number is twice as high:
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Sunday, February 5, 2012
"(And) we should never forget that the persistence of high unemployment inflicts enormous, continuing damage on our economy and our society, even if the unemployment rate is gradually declining. Bear in mind, in particular, the fact that long-term unemployment — the percentage of workers who have been out of work for six months or more — remains at levels not seen since the Great Depression. And each month that this goes on means more Americans permanently alienated from the work force, more families exhausting their savings, and, not least, more of our fellow citizens losing hope."
Paul Krugman, NY Times op-ed, Feb. 5
We post these numbers in each monthly update of the Stat Pack page, but it's helpful to focus in on them. January's jobs report surpassed expectations, and that put the GOP on the defensive. One of the arguments put forth was "Sure, but the reason unemployment dropped was because people stopped looking for work."
The BLS monthly report counts those people, too, by looking at discouraged workers and marginally-attached workers. This entry from AmosWeb helps illustrate the difference:
"Peter Pankovic and his twin sister Paula provide examples of marginally-attached workers. Both were once employed at the HyFy Electronics Company (a leading record-player manufacturer). But when HyFy Electronics Company went bankrupt, Paula and Peter both lost their jobs. Each actively sought employment for several months, without success.
- Peter took this lack of employment success as a sign that employers actively discriminated against people named Peter, concluding that further efforts to seek employment would be futile. So he simply gave up. Peter has resigned himself to sleeping on his sister's sofa and eating left over pizza crust. This makes Peter a discouraged worker.
- Paula, in contrast, considered her lack of success in finding employment as an opportunity. She converted her life savings into travellers checks and begin hitchhiking across the country, taking notes for a novel. During the course of her travels, Paula is actually able to work, she is willing to work, and if someone offers her a job, she will take it, but she never actually seeks employment. Paula is not officially considered a discouraged worker, but she remains marginally-attached to the labor force.
Today's graph (from FRED) looks at three measures of unemployment: the official rate, also known as the U3 rate, plus U4 (unemployed plus discouraged workers) and U6 (U4 plus marginally-attached workers). Look at the trend before, during and after the Great Recession: each of them is improving.
Friday, February 3, 2012
Thursday, February 2, 2012
"We must immediately extend the expiring emergency unemployment benefits to the maximum authorized levels, and we should also immediately add an additional 14 weeks of tier-I unemployment benefits for the millions of Americans who have completely exhausted their benefits while struggling to find work. My bill with Congressman Bobby Scott, H.R. 589, does just that. While the bill languishes in committee, it is my hope that this conference committee will consider this legislation for inclusion in any final legislative agreement.
Far too many Americans have exhausted all of their unemployment benefits and are still unable to find work. Abandoning these job seekers will only further depress the economy as the long-term unemployed fall into poverty and begin to be eligible for other needs-based federal benefits. These individuals would then become part of the "99ers," the nickname for the jobless population that has exhausted all eligibility for both regular and extended benefits. The number of 99ers already stands at around 2 million."