The other day, while listening to an online business show hosted by a financial expert, I heard the following comment about the recently enacted 13-month unemployment extension “They were increasing unemployment where, I think, you were going to get 3 years of unemployment benefits. And you know, when the third year comes due at the end of 2011, with the 2012 election cycle, you know that third year is going to be turned into a fourth year.” The person he was interviewing didn’t correct him, so it was likely taken as fact by the thousands of listeners that day.
Even members of Congress have a difficult time understanding the legislation they eventually passed, as this Arthur Delaney piece from December illustrates:
Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso blocked a request to reauthorize extended unemployment benefits on Thursday, saying a better way to help the unemployed would be to improve the economy by giving “certainty” to businesses on taxes.
“This is about people who have been collecting unemployment benefits for 99 weeks,” said Barrasso, describing the bill he just blocked.
The public didn’t understand the unemployment legislation as a commenter at Spectator.org put it this way:
If this Tax-Bill passes as is, they’ll be receiving unemployment for the next three years, which means no getting up early, no commuting, no searching for parking, no parking tickets when you find the wrong spot, no unexpected car repairs for driving so much, no buying new clothes for work, no deadlines to meet, no dealing with stupid coworkers and “Evil” Bosses, and no reason to get a haircut or to shave again. It’s like going back to college again!!
In December, the Answer Bag had a question about three years of unemployment benefits:
The new plan is to allow people three years of unemployment payments. Another example of federal Government not caring about the future?
What do all these responses have in common? They are all wrong. 99ers – unemployed who have exhausted benefits – are not included in the 13-month unemployment extension.
Financial experts, politicians and the public are all misinformed about the 13-month extension of unemployment benefits. Why is this simple extension so confusing to so many? It’s a complete failure to communicate the message. Do politicians want the public to think that 99ers are covered under this new extension? Possibly, since that would take the heat off of Congress for not actually helping millions of financially desperate Americans.
Alison Doyle at About.com did a great job of explaining the 13-month unemployment extension:
Under this unemployment extension legislation, unemployed workers collecting one of four tiers of benefits (ranging from 34 to 53 weeks) under the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) will be able to move to the next tier. Workers collecting benefits under the Extended Benefits (EB) program which provides 13 to 20 weeks of additional benefits to workers living in high unemployment states will also continue to receive benefits.
In addition, unemployed workers who are currently collecting 26 weeks of state unemployment benefits will be able to move into the federal unemployment compensation program once they have exhausted state benefits.
The agreement does not include a tier 5 of unemployment for workers (99ers)who have exhausted all state and federal unemployment benefits.
Additionally, the maximum number of weeks that someone can collect unemployment benefits remains at 99 weeks. Currently only 24 states have a 99 week maximum.
Millions more 99ers are in the benefit exhaustion pipeline. Unless politicians, financial experts and the public are made aware often that 99ers are not covered under this extension, Congress will continue to deem the issue settled and millions of Americans will be left with nothing; holding the bag while the elite and powerful enjoy the fruits of an improving stock market and unfunded tax breaks.
Don’t let misinformation take control of the issue. Tell friends, family, the media, your representatives and anyone who will listen that 99ers are not part of the unemployment extension. The unemployed who have exhausted benefits need assistance, since the job market is not creating jobs nearly fast enough.
Repeat after me: The 13-month unemployment extension does not extend benefits past 99 weeks.
The unemployment system is dysfunctional at best. It offers people a chance to receive some much needed funds for a certain period of time, but it fails to address many factors such as long term unemployment, job retraining, and the social consequences of unemployment. Professor Richard D. Wolff offers some observations about this dysfunction system in the following video.
Richard D. Wolff, Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, speaks on how unemployment and its far-reaching effects in society. More information and other insightful thoughts can be found on his website, at http://rdwolff.com.
You can read additional posts on unemployment at Rochester Unemployment Examiner.