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Losing Life and Livelihood

Posted by Ted Canova on April 15, 2011 at 5:00 PM Comments comments (215)


By Ted Canova


Sometimes a meeting is as good as it gets.



This week as Congress averted a government shutdown, 2 Democrats and 2 Republicans got together Thursday to talk about 99ers. That's the label given to more than one million of our unemployed neighbors who have exhausted all of their state and federal unemployment benefits. Representatives Barbara Lee (D-California) and Bobby Scott (D-Virginia) met with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Eric Cantor (R-Virginia). Lee's legislation would add 14 weeks of federal benefits for the chronic unemployed. The Democrats asked for the bill to get an up-or-down vote in the House. The Repuiblicans told them to "go to........committee."



Afterwards, Cantor walked away from the media while the Democrats tried to muster hope for the current 99ers and the 4 million more Americans who will join their ranks this year.



To make matters worse, a new study says unemployment isn't just bad for your health, but it raises the risk of death. Researchers at Stony Brook University found the jobless are 63 percent more likely to die than those with jobs. Men faced a greater risk (78 percent) than women (37 percent). But there's no silver lining there.



"Our study results clearly indicate that unemployment is not just bad for your pocketbook; it's also bad for your health," says Dr. Joseph Schwartz, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Stony Brook University School of Medicine in New York.



For some reason, perspective helps. The study found that younger unemployed (under age 50) face a greater risk of death (approximately 75 percent) than those who were 50 or older (25 percent).



One contributor could be rejection after rejection after rejection. Some companies have told the unemployed they need not apply. Their bizarre thinking is that those with jobs make for better workers. ABC News is the latest outlet not to buy it. They have launched an investigation into hiring discrimination, specifically employers who are refusing to hire the unemployed. If you think you have been turned down BECAUSE you don't have a job, contact ABC News.


Declaring "War on Unemployment"

Posted by Ted Canova on April 5, 2011 at 5:00 PM Comments comments (1)


By Ted Canova


"Am I done at 44? Is nobody going to want to hire me?" wonders Tim Zaneske from Michigan.

Tim’s fears are played out in every town across America. Ordinary people who are out of work longer than they ever imagined. People you stand next to every week at the market, around the neighborhood, or in the stands of your kid’s events.

People whose faces are familiar but whose daily and deep-seeded stress is invisible. The chronic unemployed have little to celebrate these days. So we grasp whatever straws we can to tell them they're not forgotten.

This week, out of nowhere, 2 Democrats and 2 Republicans will meet to discuss extending unemployment benefits to all groups, including “99ers.”

This is the unifying label for Americans who have run out of unemployment benefits. While the government does not keep track of how many 99ers live amongst us, one service estimates it’s about 1.4 million people. Add another 4 million Americans who the White House believes will become 99ers this year, and you have a growing voting bloc. Evenso, a meeting last week at the White House went seemingly nowhere.

Unemployment benefits do not make a lifestyle. The goal of unemployment benefits has been to provide people with about half their normal income. But that’s not even close these days. While the average unemployment check is $295 a week, the average weekly salary was $865, meaning unemployment benefits really replaces just about a third of someone’s salary.

Unemployed people would rather work than receivce $295 a week from the government. With hiring basically stagnant, labor expert Timothy Bartik with W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, wants the federal government to create a temporary jobs program. Put the jobless to work improving community, repairing schools, renovating parks, cleaning up abandoned property.

Getting long term unemployed back to work would also help fuel the recovery by putting money back into every community they serve. Bartik reminds us the longer people are out of work, the longer their skills decline, their confidence erodes and their health problems, mental and physical, increase.

While lawmakers battle this week over budget cuts, paying for a jobs program or extending unemployment benefits seem like a long shot, for now.

But there's one group not waiting for someone else to draw a line in the sand. “Our nation has declared war on poverty…war on drugs…even war on obesity,” said National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial. The group is calling on Washington to "declare war on unemployment, and urban America is the battlefront.”

Linked together, creating jobs, extending benefits and declaring war is a strategic plan to move America forward.

Not Ready To Retire

Posted by Ted Canova on March 16, 2011 at 4:30 PM Comments comments (3)


By Ted Canova




That's all I could muster when I heard today's exhausting news. When it comes to retiring, Americans are more pessimistic than anytime in the last 20 years, according to the annual Retirement Confidence Survey.


Really? No. Kidding.


Who thinks we'll ever be sitting on that beach with umbrellas in the sand and umbrellas in our cocktails? The definition of retirement died with our parents generation.


Today, we will be working longer for two reasons: we're living longer (according to another report out today on life expectancy) and we all have to work so we can afford to live and die. That's the cruel truth.


Your house used to be your nest egg, the asset you could sell when the kids are off on their own. The housing market would reward you for your years of enduring the suburbs, supporting school referenda and paying levies to fund sewers and sidewalks.


But no more. That nest egg is a big lie to millions of Americans who not only are underwater on their mortgages, but are being bullied into foreclosure by their once-smiling banks.


The retirement survey says 27 percent of us are "not at all confident" about having enough money in retirement. Not surprising, those already on the golf course have a brighter outlook. About 60 percent of retirees feel somewhat confident they can live comfortably for the rest of their lives.


So what's the impact of the rest of us working longer? Before another survey comes out, let me point to the bad news: as seniors delay retirement, there will be fewer jobs for everyone else, from today's Boomers to every Generation X, Y, and Z . Generations that were promised a future and good jobs after college. Now, this growing underclass will under-employed. Their reminder of college will come in the mail in the form of their student loans needing to be re-paid.

So let's all get some sleep. We'll be working late.





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