Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Long-Term Unemployed: How to Make Sure You Are Not Overlooking Skilled Talent

We know that hiring managers and other decision makers routinely overlook the long-term unemployed. We know what it feels to be on the outside, looking in, feeling the despair that comes with the knowledge that in order to get a job, we have to have a job already.

In that light, this article from the Society for Human Resource Management represents a small, but significant change. It's a guide that "offers basic steps HR professionals can take to ensure that recruiting and hiring practices do not intentionally or inadvertently disadvantage individuals from being considered for a job based solely on unemployment status."

Add that together with President Obama's State of the Union Address, in which he said:

"Congress, give these hardworking, responsible Americans that chance. They need our help, but more important, this country needs them in the game. That’s why I’ve been asking CEOs to give more long-term unemployed workers a fair shot at that new job and new chance to support their families; this week, many will come to the White House to make that commitment real. Tonight, I ask every business leader in America to join us and to do the same – because we are stronger when America fields a full team."

These efforts are as welcome as they are overdue.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Carsey Institute: The Long-Term Unemployed in the Wake of the Great Recession

"Using the Annual Social and Economic Supplement of the Current Population Survey, this brief outlines the demographic and economic characteristics of the long-term unemployed and compares them with their short-term unemployed counterparts. It also describes changes in the composition of the long-term unemployed since the start of the Great Recession. Author Andrew Schaefer reports that the percentage of unemployed workers who were seeking employment for more than six months more than doubled between 2007 and 2013 from 18.4 percent to 39.3 percent and that the long-term unemployed are more likely than the short-term unemployed to live in urban areas. In addition, the urban long-term unemployed are more likely to be older, but less likely to be poor than their rural counterparts. He concludes that, as debate about the extension of Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits continues, it is important to gain an understanding of the long-term unemployed in terms of their demographic and economic characteristics and how those characteristics differ across place in order to help better target strategies for alleviating the negative effects of long-term unemployment."
The eight page report is available as a PDF.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

60 Votes For Thee, But Not For Me

From the NY Times reporting on the failure of the Senate to pass an emergency UI bill:

"During recent negotiations over an unemployment deal, Republicans had balked at what they viewed as the tyrannical leadership of Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, who had refused to let Republicans offer any amendments. But on Tuesday, Mr. Reid offered to let each party introduce five amendments to the legislation.

"Republicans remained displeased, however, saying his requirement that each amendment receive 60 votes to pass unfairly doomed their measures, especially since Mr. Reid was demanding that Republicans give up the customary 60-vote threshold to end debate on the final bill."

The first vote on extending emergency UI "failed" with 52 votes for, 48 votes against.

The second vote on extending emergency UI "failed" with 55 votes for, and 45 votes against.

But it's the Senate Republicans who are the ones complaining about a 60-vote threshold.

Damned hypocrites.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Where are the unemployed? A response to Robert Romano, The Heartland Institute and Human Events

The burning smell and the billow of smoke tell you everything you need to know. You can hear the blare of sirens and the flash of lights. Firemen are on the scene, hooking up their hoses and getting ready to extinguish the blaze.

But there's someone there you don't recognize. A man standing at the hydrant, wrench in one hand, stopwatch in the other. While everyone else is fighting the fire, tending to the folks that were in the building, or keeping the reporters back a safe distance, this fellow is looking down. Waiting. Until his hand tightens around the wrench, the fire hoses deflate, and the water shuts off.

"But the fire's not out!" someone shouts.

"You're only treating the symptoms!" he shouts right back. "Besides, those are my tax dollars paying for that water. When is enough, enough?"

And the fire keeps burning, while the firemen stand helpless.

Robert Romano is the latest writer to make the argument that it's time to end long-term unemployment benefits. Among the reasons? It's going to cost the taxpayers $6.4 billion dollars to extend benefits for three months. He quotes a statement from Nathan Mehrens of Americans for Limited Government, who says that a vote to extend UI benefits is "doing nothing to lift the economy out of its continued doldrums," merely "treating the symptoms." Mehrens' statement claims that, since 2008, "the government has done nothing to get out of the way of the economy and let it grow." Romano suggests that perhaps it's time to end extended unemployment benefits, and return to the pre-emergency level of 26 weeks: benefits have been repeatedly extended, and individuals are collecting more than was paid in. Romano asks: "when is enough, enough?"

Neither Romano nor Mehrens mention one critical detail: the long-term unemployed, whose benefits have been terminated. 1.3 million men and women in December, and almost 5 million by the end of 2014.

Neither Romano nor Mehrens mention why these men and women need emergency benefits. They don't mention the long and worsening odds these men and women face as they still keep competing for the jobs that are out there. They don't mention the bias against the unemployed, and they definitely don't mention the extra bias the long-term unemployed face.

They don't mention that there are nowhere near enough jobs out there: one job for every three job seekers. They don't mention it takes an average of 35 weeks to find work, which means that a 26-week maximum leaves even the average job seeker out in the cold.

They don't mention the many arguments, made by economists from every side of the political spectrum, that make the case that these benefits need to be extended; that doing so benefits not just the recipients, but the entire economy.

They don't mention a lot of things, but mainly, they don't mention the people, and how the loss of this thin lifeline will throw them overboard and leave them, not to sink or to swim, but just to sink.

So, to Robert Romano, and Nathan Mehrens, and everyone who has published your article, I have a question: where are the unemployed? Why did you choose to ignore them, and why do you want us to do the same?

When is enough, enough? When the fire has been put out. For the long-term unemployed, it's still a seven-alarm blaze. Put down your stopwatch, and take your hand off the wrench. We could use your help.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Brookings Now: Long-term Unemployment Is #1 Social and Economic Problem in America

In an interview today with Brian Lehrer on his radio show from WNYC, Justin Wolfers answered questions about how the government measures unemployment, factors in labor force participation, and whether Congress will extend unemployment insurance. Excerpts from the show appear below: