Sunday, November 24, 2013
Report Shows Ongoing Labor Market Distress, Need to Extend Jobless Aid
Washington, DC—With only 10 days left on the House legislative calendar before the Congressional holiday recess, a group of lawmakers issued an urgent call today to reauthorize federal jobless aid for the long-term unemployed as Representative Sandy Levin (D-MI) and Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) announced new legislation to renew federal unemployment insurance through 2014.
An estimated 1.3 million unemployed workers would be abruptly cut off from federal jobless aid at year’s end, if Congress fails to reauthorize the program before the December 31st expiration. An additional 1.9 million workers would lose this vital aid during the first six months of 2014.
The showdown over the future of the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program takes place amid mounting evidence that the U.S. labor market remains in distress, as documented by an analysis released today by the National Employment Law Project.
"The fate of millions of workers who are struggling to find work in the wake of the Great Recession is in the hands of the leadership in Congress," said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project. "With the holidays fast approaching, it would be unconscionable for Congress to recess without reauthorizing federal jobless aid, leaving millions of families out in the cold."
By nearly all measures, labor market conditions are worse than they were when Congress and then-President Bush first enacted the EUC program in June 2008. The slowly improving unemployment rate, which now stands at 7.3 percent, remains well above pre-recession levels. But labor market conditions are worse than the unemployment rate indicates, because much of the improvement in the unemployment rate has been the result of individuals dropping out of the labor force, rather than entering employment.
Moreover, long-term unemployment remains higher than during any other downturn since the Great Depression, with 4.1 million job-seekers, or 36.1 percent of all the unemployed, remaining out of work for six months or more.
Lawmakers joining today's event included Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Representatives Sandy Levin (D-MI), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Barbara Lee (D-CA). Last week, the director of the White House's National Economic Council, Gene Sperling, and Press Secretary Jay Carney reiterated President Obama's strong support for Congressional action to reauthorize the EUC program, which will help millions of struggling job-seekers and their families keep a roof over their heads and give a needed boost to the economy.
"For the nearly four million Americans now receiving either state or federal unemployment insurance, introduction of legislation to renew the federal benefits program through next year is welcome news," Owens said. "Already struggling to find work in a still-challenging job market and to get by on modest benefits, the last thing these job-seekers and their families need is to be put through a wringer of worry that Congress will turn its back on America's unemployed workers and let federal jobless aid shut down between Christmas and New Year's. Congress should pass this critical legislation without delay."
The National Employment Law Project is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization that conducts research and advocates on issues affecting low-wage and unemployed workers. For more about NELP, visit www.nelp.org.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Sunday, November 17, 2013
Annie Lowrey, writing in the New York Times:
"…joblessness itself has become a trap, an impediment to finding a job. Economists see it the same way, concerned that joblessness lasting more than six months is a major factor preventing people from getting rehired, with potentially grave consequences for tens of millions of Americans.
"The long-term jobless, after all, tend to be in poorer health, and to have higher rates of suicide and strained family relations. Even the children of the long-term unemployed see lower earnings down the road.
"The consequences are grave for the country, too: lost production, increased social spending, decreased tax revenue and slower growth. Policy makers and academics are now asking whether an improving economy might absorb those workers in time to prevent long-term economic damage."
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Asked about policies that could accelerate growth and help the long-term unemployed, Director Elmendorf said, "Of all non-defense discretionary spending, half represents investment of some sort. About 20 percent of non-defense discretionary spending is investment in physical capital, such as highways, another 15 percent goes for education and training, and about 10 percent goes for R&D, such as health research. Over all, we think those investments help to build a stronger economy in the future and cutbacks in those investments would reduce output and income in the future."
The problem of long-term unemployment, Elmendorf noted, also "has important economic effects over time… It poses a very large risk of there being some set of people who will not find their way back to work at all or will not find their way to the productive sort of work that they were in before they lost their jobs."
Elmendorf said the CBO has "reviewed the evidence on a large number of different ways of trying to help people get back into the labor force," a number of which "have been successful on a small scale and have not been tried on a large scale." Elmendorf pledged to work with Senator Coons on developing policies that help the long-term unemployed get back to work.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
"In September, 1.4 million workers, or only 34 percent of all the long-term unemployed, received federal unemployment benefits, down from about 2.2 million workers a year ago." (source: The Hill)
"… by failing to address unemployment, we have, in fact, been sacrificing the future, too. What passes these days for sound policy is in fact a form of economic self-mutilation, which will cripple America for many years to come." (source: Paul Krugman)
I hope to address the issue in a longer piece soon. For now, though, I have to ask: who are we, as a nation, that we inflict such damage on ourselves?
Saturday, November 2, 2013
Citing "a starker divide, between responsible governing and recklessness," the New York Times Editorial Board endorses Noam Bramson for Westchester County Executive:
"Mr. Bramson, New Rochelle's mayor since 2006, has the skills and vision needed to run the county well. He makes a strong case that Mr. Astorino's spending cuts — to the planning department, mental health services and child care support, among other things — have done damage. So has the self-destructive battle over fair housing, which Mr. Bramson promises to end. We recommend Mr. Bramson."