Today, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) introduced the tentatively titled “Emergency Unemployment Compensation Expansion Act of 2011”.
Rep. Lee opened the press conference with the following statement:
“As we stand here today, millions of workers are experiencing a true state of emergency. Too many people at every level of experience and skills are out of work for longer than they ever imagined. These individuals are the backbone of our nation, our key to our economic recovery, but most importantly they deserve to live the American Dream also. But many of them today stand on the brink of financial ruin.”
Many long-term unemployed can certainly relate to that statement. Rep. Scott then made a statement which contained the following:
This legislation “would add 14 additional weeks of unemployment. Make that benefit available to all unemployed persons regardless of unemployment conditions in their state.
It is our hope that this bill will receive some necessary support to help those unemployed Americans most in need.
The overwhelming majority of those unemployed want a hand up, not a handout. They want a job.
The introduction of this legislation is no guarantee that it will actually pass, but we need to make sure we work as hard as we can to help those who are most in need.”
Standing in the background was Gregg Rosen of the American 99ers Union as well as a number of 99ers who made the trip to D.C. I don’t have any video of their interviews or statements at this time, but I’ll make those available as soon as they are released.
There was not a discussion about how the legislation would be funded, but that will have to be addressed in order for it to have any chance of moving forward.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) followed with an impassioned plea to help the long-term unemployed. She referred to the government not leaving behind the bankster class that robbed the US taxpayer of trillions of dollars and still received large compensation packages.
As mentioned yesterday, 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.
Many thanks to Lauren Victoria Burke of Crew of 42 for all of her efforts with covering this important topic.
Watch Gregg Rosen’s CNN interview:
The office of Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. sent me the following statement from the congressman:
Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., Floor Remarks, February 9, 2011
Mr. Speaker, the unemployment rate last month dropped from 9.4% to 9%. But only 36,000 jobs were created. Wow! 36,000 = .4%.
How did the rate drop so much with only 36,000 new jobs?
It’s an illusion. If you’re chronically unemployed, and are considered to be not looking for a job, you don’t count as “unemployed.” You fall out of the statistics. So as more and more people are out of work for longer periods of time, they are literally left out of the system. Houdini couldn’t have performed an illusion as clever as the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
But shouldn’t a government of, by and for the people care about its most vulnerable in this economic climate?
I want to remind the government of the urgency of our economic situation. Send me your resume and story at firstname.lastname@example.org. I want to have your story entered into the Congressional record to remind Congress of the fierce urgency of now.
Mr. Speaker, stop the illusions. The American people need jobs and they want to go to work. We have too many Americans who are chronically unemployed, and we don’t count them anymore. We need to do something about it now.
Rep. Jackson Jr. is continuing to highlight the plight of the long-term unemployed.
99ers. How many?
Yesterday I referred to the number of 99ers being tracked by the BLS and I reported that there were 1.4 million 99ers, or 10.7% of all unemployed. I contacted a BLS representative to find out the latest 99er figure and I was told that in January it increased more than 330,000 to 1,796,000:
The January 2011 showed 1,796,000 persons at 99 weeks or more, or 12.0 percent of the unemployed. This figure is not seasonally adjusted. As we discussed, January 2011 was the first month where we were able to get duration estimates beyond 99 weeks or 2 years. (This did not affect the measurement of unemployment.)
Individuals provide answers to the following question:
“At the end of last week, how long had you been looking for work?” If someone lost a job, and took a part-time job, they would be classified as “employed” during the time they held the part time job. If they later left the part time job, and searched for a full time job, the answer for the duration of time spent looking for work would be the time since the last job.
Persons who answer that they are not currently looking for work would not be classified as unemployed, and they would not be asked the unemployment duration questions. If they began to look for work again in subsequent months, they could very well respond that their duration of unemployment was longer than just the preceding month.
Put another way, in December 2010, (in a display of duration by single weeks) we found 55,000 persons with unemployment durations between 90 to 98 weeks, and 1,467,000 with durations of 99 weeks or more. In January 2011, there were 1,796,000 persons reporting 99 weeks or more, a number that greatly exceeds the prior month’s 99 or more PLUS those near that level at 90 to 98 weeks.
The graph at Calculated Risk shows the potential upcoming boom in the 99er population during 2011. http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2010/12/here-come-99ers.html
This graph shows the change in payroll jobs each month. The peak job losses were in early 2009 – and 99 weeks is just under two years – so many of those people will be exhausting their benefits over the next few months.
The Daily List
You can find your representatives contact information at: http://conservativeusa.org/mega-cong.htm, or at http://www.congress.org/congressorg/directory/congdir.tt.
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I’m looking for stories from people who have been rejected during the hiring process for being unemployed. Have you been the victim of a temp agency that won’t give you an interview because you are unemployed? Have you seen jobs ads for “employed only” or “unemployed need not apply”? Have you lost a chance at a job due to a poor credit score? Send your job rejection experiences to email@example.com.
Huffington Post is kind enough to give me a chance to post my work at their site. I hope to be able to spread the 99er word using their larger audience. You can see my efforts at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-thornton.
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