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"The Invisible Unemployed- 99ers"

Posted by Ted Canova on March 9, 2011 at 7:30 PM Comments comments (0)


By Ted Canova


A year ago, I barely paid attention to weekly jobless claims. The storyline went like this: someone loses their job, they file for unemployment, and then they find a new job. But today, with unemployment lasting years for many people, filing for unemployment starts a long and painful road.  

 

The Labor Department reports 397,000 Americans filed for unemployment for the first time last week.  But there is one group of Americans who no longer qualify. This group has been out of work for so long they don't even count. They're not part of the weekly jobless report. They're not part of America's consciousness. They have become invisible, like an eyesore in society we don't discuss.

 

But we should talk about "99ers" because their numbers are swelling, their hopes are fading and their plight will determine the length of this recession.

 

"99ers" reflect the maximum number of weeks that the most generous states provide in total state and federal unemployment insurance. Right now, more than 1.7 million Americans are "99ers" who have exhausted their benefits. This year, an additional 4 million men and women will graduate into their ranks.

 

Michael Thornton is an advocate for "99ers." He also keeps track of stalled federal legislation designed to help the group. "Unfortunately, a deaf and dumb (in more ways than one) Congress seems also blind to the fact that millions of jobless will not have any financial safety net."

 

Once considered a safety net for laid off Americans, the weekly unemployment check averages $309 which is harder to stretch through each desperate week.  Helping "99ers" would likely spur consumer spending, which accounts for two-thirds of America's economy. With "99ers" spending money at local businesses, helping them could help all of us surge out of the recession faster.


You can let your voice be heard in Congress through this new website POPVOX.

 

For tips to find a job, listen to JobTalkAmerica now.

Not "Good News In Unemployment"

Posted by Ted Canova on March 5, 2011 at 10:00 AM Comments comments (0)


By Ted Canova


Unemployment news is a trigger for me. Since starting JobTalkAmerica, I see the monthly unemployment numbers as a facade. The public sees the scorecard and mainstream media decides if it's "good news" or "bad news." Then national amnesia sets in for the month. During the other 29 or so days, there are millions of ordinary people, through no fault of their own, who struggle with guilt, shame and little hope to re-ignite a fading careeer.

 

On the drive to work today, the anticipation on radio rivaled election night returns.

  • "Economists are hopeful....
  • "The jobs picture looked better in January, so February may...
  • "Silicon Valley is hiring...


Then, the numbers were release and the predictible headlines followed.

  • Unemployment droped to 8.9%. The nation added 192,000 jobs in February.
  • "Spurred by Private Hiring, Job Growth Gathers Steam"
  • "Signs Pointing Up"


But behind the cozy headlines, is the plain truth: February looks good because January, with chaotic winter and closed businesses, was paralyzed like the 1,028 buses in snowy Midtown Manhattan.

 

But 8.9% is better than 9.8%. This means 13.7 million Americans were unemployed, right? Well, no and here's another problem. A better indictator of America's unemployment is the U6 number compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This includes discouraged Americans who are so burnt out from job hunting that they stopped looking for jobs that don't even exist. It also includes part timers without benefits dying for a fultime gig. The U6 inched down .2% to 15.9% in February.

 

Do the math. 16% unemployment means more than 20 million Americans are out of work or barely making it. The National Employment Law Project adds perspective with its analysis:

  • Lower-wage industries constituted 23 percent of job loss, but 49 percent of recent growth
  • Mid-wage industries constituted 36 percent of job loss, and 37 percent of recent growth
  • Higher-wage industries constituted 40 percent of job loss, but only 14 percent of recent growth.


Adding 192,000 new jobs in February is a start. But before you sustain your enthusiasm for any month's jobless numbers, realize this: the country lost 8.7 million jobs during this recession. We've made up only about 1.2 million jobs. For America to dig out for real, we'd need to create 200,000 to 400,000 a month for 3-5 years. After we find work for the 8.9% unemployed, then maybe we can help the other 7% barely noticed.


For tips to find a job, listen to JobTalkAmerica.


Sam Says: Unemployment Report Not as Rosy as You Think

Posted by Ted Canova on March 5, 2011 at 9:35 AM Comments comments (0)

So we all saw the Labor Department’s February unemployment report which hit Friday morning. Overall, there were some good things. Private sector jobs jumped by 192,000. The unemployment rate dropped to 8.9%, the lowest in two years. The jobless rate has also declined for three months in a row.  This had some economists (and the Obama White House) crowing that we’ve turned the corner.

Perhaps we have. But I dug a little deeper into the report and I have a few concerns.

First, and by far the scariest, is how long it takes to find a job. The average length of unemployment is now 37 weeks.  Almost 6 million Americans have been unemployed for over 27 weeks.  Another 8.1 million have been searching for over 15 weeks.

This, I think, shows that the prejudice against the unemployed isn’t easing even as the economy strengthens.  And nobody has put forth a plan to try and deal with this problem.

Two other numbers I want to share. In February there were 8.3 million people working part time who wanted to work full time.  Although that number has been falling over the past year it’s still remained stubbornly high indicating to me that many employers are squeezing more out of their part time workers and, thus, feel no need to convert those jobs into full time with benefits.

Finally this statistic, in February there were 2.7 million discouraged workers, people who want a job but are so frustrated they just stopped. Again, this number is not falling and, in fact, it’s a little higher than a year ago.

And here’s what really worried me. Last month local and state governments got rid of 30,000 workers. Some economists believe our budget cutting craze could cost another 200,000 people their jobs.  If that happens, the headlines won’t be as rosy with future Department of Labor reports.

 



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