Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) sent out the following press release yesterday:
Lee and Scott to Stand with Economic Policy Institute and American 99ers Union; Unemployment Benefits More Stimulative to U.S. Economy than Millionaire Tax Giveaways
Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Congressman Bobby Scott will join Gregg Rosen of the American 99ers Union and Dr. Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) to introduce The Emergency Unemployment Compensation Expansion Act, legislation to extend emergency benefits to long-term unemployed workers. Many of these long-term unemployed workers, known as 99ers, have exhausted their benefits and need this assistance to support their families, make ends meet and contribute to our economy. The bill would provide 14 weeks of emergency unemployment benefits to people who have exhausted all their benefits and are still unemployed.
Not only is providing these benefits the right thing to do, but it is sound economic policy that will support our economic recovery. Economic experts, like Dr. Shierolz from EPI, believe that extending these benefits will have a greater stimulative impact on our economy than handing unpaid-for tax giveaways to multi-millionaires.
WHO: Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-09)
Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03)
Gregg Rosen, Co-Founder, American 99ers Union
Dr. Heidi Shierholz, Economist, Economic Policy Institute
WHAT: Press Conference
WHEN: Wednesday, February 9, 2011, 9:45 a.m.
Any media with cameras are asked to pre-set at 9:15 a.m.
WHERE: Capitol Visitors Center, HVC Room 200
Besides Gregg Rosen, co-founder of the American 99ers Union, a number of 99ers plan to attend the event and they may be interviewed by the main stream media following the introduction of the legislation. CNN and other media have been invited to the press conference.
When Rep. Lee’s office was asked what would be most helpful in moving this legislation forward, they said that the primary issue is making certain the legislation is brought to the House floor. As a result, it’s important that those supporting this legislative effort email representatives, especially Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor http://cantor.house.gov/, http://republicanleader.house.gov/Contact/, and ask them to bring the legislation to the floor. House Republicans control legislative procedures, so it’s vital that they be encouraged to move this legislation forward. Rep. Lee will further define these issues at tomorrow’s press conference.
Additional information about this legislative effort is also being provided by Crewof42.
American workers are enduring the worst jobs situation since the Great Depression and Lee + Scott will be challenging their colleagues as well as the prevailing “budget cutting” political winds to pass their bill.
Arthur Delaney of Huffington Post wrote about the proposed legislation: House Dems To Reintroduce Longshot Bill For Long-Term Unemployed
Given Republican hostility to additional deficit spending — Lee’s office said the cost of the extra benefits would not be offset — the effort will likely amount to little more than a reminder that long-term unemployment persists even though much of the nation’s political discourse is focused on signs of economic recovery.
After speaking to Rep. Lee’s office they reaffirmed that there are no offsets currently, but Rep. Lee will discuss this further at the press conference. It’s obvious that if offsets are not proposed, House Republicans are not likely to consider the legislation seriously.
In the same article:
Heidi Shierholz, an economist with the progressive Economic Policy Institute who supports the legislation and will attend Wednesday’s press conference, said there’s no economic reason for benefits to stop at 99 weeks.
“There is no magic number of how long extensions should last,” she said. “There’s just nothing in the economic literature that says 99 weeks is the limit. It’s not like if we break the 100 barrier things are going to fall apart.”
99ers, how many?
There has been discussion about the actual number of 99ers that are in the unemployed population. Some have said that the number of 99ers is well below the 4-5 million often attributed to 99er advocates, including myself at times. The latest “official” estimates for Q4 2010 show that 10.7% of all unemployed, or 1.4 million have been unemployed for 99 weeks or longer. These official estimates are somewhat puzzling. Back in June 2010, the Washington Post estimated that there were 1.5 million 99ers. How that population has decreased over the past seven month sis somewhat odd, especially when looking at the increase of those unemployed by percentage since 2006:
The columns below are as follows:
Year and quarter, Total unemployed, Unemployed 99 weeks or longer, Percent of total unemployed
2006 7,001 233 3.3
2007 7,078 228 3.2
2008 8,924 271 3.0
2009 14,265632 4.4
2010 Q1 15,939 1,035 6.5
2010 Q2 14,621 1,391 9.5
2010 Q3 14,679 1,406 9.6
2010 Q4 14,061 1,504 10.7
As you can see, the number of workers unemployed for 99 weeks or longer is at a record 10.7%. These estimates don’t include those 99ers who have found some part-time work to try and get by, and I have been in contact with a few of those who are no longer considered 99ers. There are also those that have given up looking for work for more than a year who are no longer counted as unemployed. The “official” tabulation of 1.4 million 99ers is less than some have reported, but it’s also a best case scenario that ignores many other factors that would increase the 99er population substantially.
From an historical perspective, the number of people who have been unemployed for 99 weeks or longer is at record.
I received the following note from Jason Tabrys of Examiner.com, who has been working on issues related to unemployment.
Forsaken by the United States Government and vilified by some, America’s long term unemployed, the 99ers, have strained to let their voices be heard.
On Tuesday February 15, 2011 at 8PM EST join us for #99erAID, a twitter chat designed to bring 99ers, 99er advocates, and journalists together to discuss the latest 99er news and strategy ideas for the growing, peaceful movement.
Once again that’s #99erAID on Tuesday February 15, 2011 at 8PM EST moderated by @99erAID (Examiner.com’s Jason Tabrys)
You can read more about that event at: 99ers Aid Twitter Event Announced for February 15, 2011 at 8PM EST
99er advocates working behind the scenes
Kim Doyle Willie is one of those unselfish people who are working diligently for social justice, including 99ers. Kelly Wiedemer wrote an article on Kim’s efforts at Advocate thanks CNN, raises awareness about hunger, homelessness & 99er issues
Get free resume advice and job search guidance
Phil Rosenberg hosts a number of online efforts that help the unemployed find new careers. Join him to discuss various employment related topics including:
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The Daily List
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