The April 2011 BLS employment report showed a gain of 244,000 jobs, which was trumpeted by the Obama administration and the mainstream media as a continuation of a rapidly improving jobs market. While job growth is important, it’s also important to realize the jobs hole that needs to be filled. Over the past four months more than 800,000 jobs have been created, but in January 2009 alone, more than 800,000 jobs were lost. Since February 2010,1.8 million jobs have been created, but 8.8 million jobs were lost prior to that period. That’s a job shortage of 7 million and that doesn’t include the 125,000 jobs each month that needed to be created to simply absorb new entrants into the workforce.

Additionally, the unemployment rate increased to 9%, since more people began looking for work. Returning job seekers is often considered an improved sign of job availability, but if they aren’t hired, they will go back into hiding and the unemployment rate will decline. Because of returning job seekers, the number of officially unemployed increased 205,000 to 13.75 million, which is still historically high when compared to other jobs challenged times.

One of the few honest assessments of the current jobs market was offered by Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute:

At this point, coming out of a recession this deep, we should be getting unambiguously huge growth, of 300,000 to 400,000 [new jobs] a month,” said Heidi Shierholz, a labor economist at the Economic Policy Institute. “And it’s just nowhere near that.” She concluded: “We’re still in a rocky place.”

The job market is admittedly improving for some, but it’s not improving quickly enough for millions of jobless, especially the long-term unemployed. In April, the ranks of the unemployed who have been out of work for 99 weeks or more increased by 21,000 to a record 1,920,000. That equates to 14.5% of all unemployed.

Other long-term unemployed fared a little better in April compared to March. Those out of work for 26 weeks or more decreased from 5.839 million from 6.122 million in March. But their percentage of the overall unemployment rate remained elevated at a near record level of 43.2%. The percentage of those out of work for more and 52 weeks increased from 31.5% to 32.8% of all unemployed.

The Congress, the Obama administration and most media outlets are silent about long-term unemployment. How do they reconcile the fact that 244,000 jobs were created, but 21,000 additional workers have been unemployed for more than 99 weeks? How do they put on a happy face when a near record 5.893 million or 43.2% of all unemployed workers have been jobless for more than 26 weeks? How do they rationalize their cheerful statements of job improvements with the facts that job creation is very weak considering the trillions of dollars pumped into the economy to support Wall Street and fund tax breaks? How do they high-five the economic recovery when the labor force participation rate — the share of people over age 16 who are either working or actively seeking work — is at a low rate of 64.2%, a rate not seen since 1985? They can’t. They generally ignore the issue; long-term unemployment is the elephant in the economic recovery room.

What is being done legislatively to address this elephant in the room? To date, nothing. The GOP controlled House has been busy attempting to cut the deficit, repealing healthcare funding, and restarting offshore oil drilling. The Republicans, with the help of some Democrats, are working to weaken Wall Street regulation legislation, end net neutrality, and are arguing the Defense of Marriage Act. They are pandering to their base, acquiescing to their corporate overlords and obliging their big-wallet campaign contributors.

Congressional leaders are more concerned with ideology than reality. They have not presented a jobs bill or employment training legislation, conducted investigations on how to solve long-term unemployment, or offered tax incentives for companies to hire the long-term unemployed. They have ignored legislation, such as Rep. Barbara Lee’s H.R. 589, that would help millions of long-term unemployed, the 99ers, who have exhausted all unemployment benefits. While most of the blame can be placed at the door of the GOP controlled House, the Democratic controlled Senate and Obama have been suspiciously silent about the long-term unemployment problem.

Long-term unemployment is not only a national tragedy, but it is a personal tragedy as well. Rochelle Sevier was laid off in October 2008 while working as a recruitment coordinator for a biotech firm. Since that time, “I started my job search immediately. In addition to my job search, I attended various workshops at my local career center. As part of my search I attended job fairs, partnered with temp agencies, posted my resume online, and also submitted my resume to various positions.” During the past couple of years Rochelle took part-time temporary positions that included folding sweaters and stuffing envelopes. Her unemployment benefits ended in September 2010 and she didn’t find another job until January 2011 when an administrative position became available. Unfortunately that job ended six weeks later, “I finished out my 6th week and now I am back to square one. This rejection affected my emotional and mental state. I started to feel hopeless and depressed because I now feel like I will never work again.”

The long-term unemployed are also part of the growing ranks of food stamp recipients, personal bankruptcies, foreclosures and healthcare uninsured. Ellen Turner, who was laid off from her job in December 2008 has struggled with healthcare costs since her COBRA plan ended in June 2010.

“Now I have nothing. Hoping I can stay fairly healthy till I reach 65, and I can get Medicare. I have one knee without cartilage that has to be replaced… at a cost of 10k. Can’t do it. I have severe osteoporosis; I need fusions of reclast every year. This year, the pharmaceutical co. provided the reclast, I only have to pay for the doctor visit and lab fees: $136 bucks total. I am fortunate that I can pay this, while others at my age cannot. I turned 63 on May 10th.”

Ellen is now one of the more than 50 million Americans who do not have healthcare.

Susan R. sent the following cry for help:

“Any idea on what is happening with HR 589? My unemployment ends end of the month and I cannot get a job. I have tried everywhere. I used to be a legal secretary but now they want college which I do not have, Now you have to apply for stores, etc. online and I never hear back. I think my only hope is to kill myself. There is no hope. Also they keep saying things are getting better but I don’t see where and neither does anyone I talk to. Everyone says things are bad!!”

H.R. 589 is legislation designed to help the long-term unemployed by extending Tier 1 unemployment benefits 14 weeks. Those 14 weeks could be a financial lifesaver for millions of unemployed. Although the legislation has been discussed for months, moving it forward in a Republican controlled House will be challenging. How challenging? House Republicans are hoping to introduce legislation that could cutextended unemployment benefits in favor of lower business taxes and allow states to spend that money on other programs: The Ways and Means Committee passed a bill by 20-14 today that lets states shift some of the $31 billion they are set to get for extended unemployment aid to prevent the tax increases, pay back federal loans or fund job-training programs.

While those are all commendable options, they are long-term rewards that won’t help those that need immediate financial assistance. Oil companies have reported record profits, but the GOP favors giving them billions in taxpayer subsidies while at the same time forcing the long-term unemployed to suffer without any financial assistance.

The latest H.R.589 update comes from Crew of 42’s Lauren Victoria Burke; the news is both positive and disappointing:

The good news for 99ers: The president mentioned he wants to possibly attach the 99ers money to some other big piece of legislation somehow… which piece, how and when is unclear…The bad news for 99ers: The president does not seem deeply motivated to to actively support unemployment benefits in general terms.

Congress needs to address the elephants in the room, since millions of Americans are being sidelined by a relatively weak job market. That needs to change quickly and dramatically or more hard-working individuals such as Rochelle, Ellen and Susan will continue to bare the financial hardship and personal pain of long-term unemployment. Open your eyes now, Congress. The elephants in the economic recovery room won’t simply go away if your eyes remain closed.

Tom Toles - GoComics 5-12-11

 

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19 Comments to “99ers and the Long-term Unemployed Are the Elephants in the Economic Recovery Room”

  1. jr says:

    why is the media SILENT??
    follow the $$$$$ for the answer

  2. [...] original post here: 99ers and the Long-term Unemployed Are the Elephants in the … Bookmark It This entry was posted in Money and tagged 20-14-today, allow-states, [...]

  3. [...] 99ers and the Long-term Unemployed Are the Elephants in the Economic Recovery Room Layoff List (hat tip reader May S) [...]

  4. [...] Cuts Projected As Largest Contributor To Public Debt [CHART] Huffington Post (hat tip reader May S)99ers and the Long-term Unemployed Are the Elephants in the Economic Recovery Room Layoff List (hat tip reader May S)Judge sides with homeowners in foreclosure suit Salt Lake Tribune [...]

  5. This jobs situation is a tragedy. Perhaps we could ask: How much of the hundreds of billions of dollars of stimulus went into directly creating jobs?

  6. Rick says:

    Certainly the long term unemployment has been much different in this recession:

    Long term unemployment

    Participation rate is also compared further down:

    Labor participation rate

  7. Sam says:

    ALL congressional Republicans should be out looking for jobs. The Bush tax cuts have been in place for 10 years. According to John Boehner, leaving them in place another 2 years was to have created 2 million jobs. Where are they.

    All congressinal Republicans should be out looking for jobs. Show us exactly where the Bush tax cuts have created US jobs. Take Faux News camaera crews, Rupert Murdoch, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, and the ACORN pimp, James O’Keefe. Show exactly where the jobs are.Film the application process, the employer’s side of the job application, how long the applicant waits. What happens to the application. If Republicans can’t or won’t, they need to be called liars, to their face, voted out of office and kept out of office. And the Bush tax cuts need to be repealed; the wealth has gone into private pockets.

  8. The elite aren’t “ignoring” permanently high DISemployment; that’s their policy goal, and both legacy parties share it. They’re just not talking about it in front of the children.

  9. layofflist says:

    Thanks for that additional information on long-term unemployment. The graphs speak loudly of this historically poor American employment picture.

  10. layofflist says:

    Thanks for that additional information on long-term unemployment. The graphs speak loudly of this historically poor American employment picture.

  11. [...] and the Long-term Unemployed Are the Elephants in the Economic Recovery Room (Layoff List) For policymakers, long-term unemployment remains more convenient to ignore than it is to address. [...]

  12. [...] elephant in the economic recovery room… Bookmark [...]

  13. My longer response to this piece is here: http://wp.me/p1dEmL-8c

    But Lambert: To say that the elites ‘policy goal’ is permanent dis-employment is to assume that 1. elites are in control of the economic future when all indicators are that it is out of control and 2. elites have a plan.

    I don’t think either of these assumptions can be plausibly argued.

    People used to think that the Sun revolved around the Earth. People now seem to believe that elite mankind is the master of our fate. They are not, and neither are we.

    While it is obvious that low wages, what used to be called wage slavery, is good for business, long-term structural mass unemployment is not, as is evidenced by Egypt, Greece, and currently Spain. No policy planner would actually want 50% of the workforce with the ‘free time’ to ponder and creatively address their economic plight. It’s just not a healthy situation for those at the top.

  14. jawbone says:

    Stephen @ 7:48AM —

    …long-term structural mass unemployment is not, as is evidenced by Egypt, Greece, and currently Spain

    Ha! Finally a comparison of the US and Greece (Spain is occasionally used as well) that will never by used or spoken of by the Repubs or Dems. They’re too eager to do the austerity dirty deeds and they need to focus only on debt and deficit.

  15. [...] that continues to slip the minds of Congress, the media and the White House — but not the people who are still hanging by a thread: The April 2011 BLS employment report showed a gain of 244,000 jobs, which was trumpeted by the [...]

  16. [...] elephant in the room – people are still hanging by a thread: The April 2011 BLS employment report showed a gain of 244,000 jobs, which was trumpeted by the [...]

  17. [...] 99ers and the Long-term Unemployed Are the Elephants in the Economic Recovery Room Layoff List (hat tip reader May S) [...]

  18. [...] By layofflist – The April 2011 BLS employment report showed a gain of 244,000 jobs, which was trumpeted by the Obama administration and the mainstream media as a continuation of a rapidly improving jobs market. While job growth is important, it’s also important to realize the jobs hole that needs to be filled. Over the past four months more than 800,000 jobs have been created, but in January 2009 alone, more than 800,000 jobs were lost. Since February 2010,1.8 million jobs have been created, but 8.8 million jobs were lost prior to that period. That’s a job shortage of 7 million and that doesn’t include the 125,000 jobs each month that needed to be created to simply absorb new entrants into the workforce. [...]

  19. Glenn Bax NJ says:

    To 99ers and anyone that can help, please read the following!

    I have a suggestion since we can’t get the main stream media news programs to broadcast our critical unemployment situation referred to as 99ers, why don’t we flood the internet with our plight? Our biggest problem is the lack of media attention. Since we don’t have the transportation money to march on anywhere, Washington D C, our State Capitols our City Halls or even our local Unemployment Offices. On a daily basis I suggest we flood the internet with a simple message. If someone can word this better than I, any suggestions are welcome.

    **Please excuse this desperate interruption to your comments. For over a year, millions of Americans called 99ers have gone without any income or jobs, because none are available. We are not being covered by the news stations. We need your support! We need Jobs or help not welfare. For more information please Google “99ers” “Tier V”.**

    **“Wikipedia says” “99ers is a colloquial term for unemployed people in the United States, mostly citizens, who have exhausted all of their unemployment benefits, including all unemployment extensions”.

    We need your help and support because The President, The Senate, Congress and the News Media have ignored suffering Americans with families and no means of support. We are becoming, homeless, destitute, suicidal and plain desperate. We need the help and support of every American to help our cause until jobs become available.**

    Insert this message in every comment area of every story on the internet at least once.
    We should abide by some rules; please don’t repeat it over and over in the same story this would be annoying. Don’t use caps, this is also annoying. No profanity. This is not annoying it’s just rude. If a comment area only holds a few characters then only use the 1st paragraph. Or as much of it as possible!

    This may be just annoying enough to get the mass media attention we need from the main stream media news stations. Consider it a non violent demonstration using the media that’s currently available to us without requiring any money.

    Your comments on this matter will be greatly appreciated. Even the negative ones!

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