layofflist on July 15th, 2011

A post from Robert Reich tells the story of how there is so little attention being paid to job creation. It’s an excellent read and it shows how both parties are not giving serious effort to the jobs crisis. They all have a job, so why worry about the 22 million unemployed and underemployed.

What did the President do in response to last week’s horrendous job report — unemployment rising to 9.2 percent in June, with only 18,000 new jobs (125,000 are needed each month just to keep up with the growth in the potential labor force)?

He said the economy continues to be in a deep hole, and he urged Congress to extend the temporary reduction in the employee part of the payroll tax, approve pending free-trade agreements, and pass a measure to streamline patent procedures.

To call this inadequate would be a gross understatement.

Here’s what the President should have said:

This job recession shows no sign of ending. It can no longer be blamed on supply-side disruptions from Japan, Europe’s debt crisis, high oil prices, or bad weather.

We’re in a vicious cycle where consumers won’t buy more because they’re scared of losing their jobs and their pay is dropping. And businesses won’t hire because they don’t have enough customers.

Here in Washington, we’ve been wasting time in a game of chicken over raising the debt ceiling. Republicans want you to believe the deficit is responsible for the bad economy. The truth is that when the private sector cannot and will not spend enough to get the economy going, the public sector must step into the breach. Cutting the deficit now would only create more joblessness.

My first priority is to get Americans back to work. I’m proposing a jobs plan that will do that.

First, we’ll exempt the first $20,000 of income from payroll taxes for the next two years. This will put cash directly into American’s pockets and boost consumer spending. We’ll make up the revenue shortfall by applying Social Security taxes to incomes over $500,000.

Second, we’ll recreate the WPA and Civilian Conservation Corps — two of the most successful job innovations of the New Deal – and put people back to work directly. The long-term unemployed will help rebuild our roads and bridges, ports and levees, and provide needed services in our schools and hospitals. Young people who can’t find jobs will reclaim and improve our national parklands, restore urban parks and public spaces, recycle products and materials, and insulate public buildings and homes.

Third, we’ll enlarge the Earned Income Tax Credit so lower-income Americans have more purchasing power.

Fourth, we’ll lend money to cash-strapped state and local governments so they can rehire teachers, fire fighters, police officers, and others who provide needed public services. This isn’t a bailout. When the economy improves, scheduled federal outlays to these states and locales will drop by an amount necessary to recover the loans.

Fifth, we’ll amend the bankruptcy laws so struggling homeowners can declare bankruptcy on their primary residence. This will give them more bargaining leverage with their lenders to reorganize their mortgage loans. Why should the owners of commercial property and second homes be allowed to include these assets in bankruptcy but not regular home owners?

Sixth, we’ll extend unemployment benefits to millions of Americans who have lost part-time jobs. They’ll get partial benefits proportional to the time they put in on the job.

Yes, most of these measures will require more public spending in the short term. But unless we get this economy moving now, the long-term deficit problem will only grow worse.

Some in Congress will fight against this jobs plan on ideological grounds. They don’t like the idea that government exists to help Americans who need it. And they don’t believe we all benefit when jobs are more plentiful and the economy is growing again.

I am eager to take them on. Average Americans are hurting, and their pain is not going away.

We bailed out Wall Street so that the financial system would not crash. We stimulated the economy so that businesses would not tank. Now we must help ordinary people on the Main Streets of America — for their own sakes, and also so that the real economy can fully mend.

My most important goal is restoring jobs and wages. Those who oppose me must explain why doing nothing is preferable.

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layofflist on June 22nd, 2011

Facebook member Pam Sexton organized a list of unemployed and 99er resources that may be beneficial to those who are looking for some assistance.

If you have any other links that you would like to add, please place them in the comments section or send a note to

Here is my list of 99er Unemployment Sites:

  • BegsList (Drowning in debt, struggling to make ends meet, terrified of being out of a job, currently unemployed, or worried about getting by in today’s economy?)
  • SNAP (Food Stamps)

Thank you, Pam, for putting this list together.


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The May BLS jobs report was discouraging for millions still seeking a job in a weak jobs market. Only 54,000 jobs were created and the unemployment rate increased to 9.1%. About 125,000 jobs need to be created each month to absorb new entrants into the workforce. With that in mind, 71,000 more jobs needed to be created just to break even for the month. Recall that McDonald’s hired 62,000 in May . If not for McDonald’s hiring binge, would there have been a net job loss instead of a jobs gain in May?

The underemployment rate did improve slightly to 15.8% from 15.9%. Underemployment is when someone wants a full-time job but is working fewer than 34 hours a week.

Those seeking full-time work found the job market less friendly than those seeking part-time positions. The unemployment rate for those seeking full-time employment rose to 9.7%, while the unemployment rate for those seeking part-time positions fell to 6.3%. The quoted unemployment rate of 9.1% is a combination of those looking for full-time and part-time work. Working 34 or more hours a week is considered full-time employment.

Working part-time is often a struggle for those who want full-time work. ML from IL is an intelligent, B.A. educated professional researcher, paralegal, proofreader/copy editor and a national manager of customer relations. “I was unemployed for two years. I am now underemployed, working part time but continuing to look for full-time work, and earning 55% less than before. While I’m grateful to even be working, I struggle to financially survive every day. I wasn’t at all sure that I’d get to be at my daughter’s college graduation and wedding because I couldn’t afford the travel expenses without family help.”

ML’s financial struggles include keeping a roof over her head, “I’ve faced eviction twice during the past couple of years, but I am still able to pay rent, barely. It isn’t okay to live this way. I want to thrive, not just survive, but I need full-time, reliable work for that to happen.”

While the employment report was disappointing on many levels, it was particularly abysmal for the long-term unemployed. The number of workers unemployed for 99 weeks or more increased 14,000 to 1,934,000. Those out of work for more than 27 weeks increased by 361,000 to 6,200,000; 45.1% of all unemployed have been out of work 27 weeks or more, which is near a record level.

Navy veteran, software consultant, and licensed realtor Virgil Bierschwale of Harper, TX, has been working on and off for the past ten years. This isn’t because of a lack of effort, but because of various economic conditions ranging from the bursting of the tech bubble to the crash of the housing market. State and federal budget cuts suddenly ended some of Virgil’s software consultation projects. His search for full-time work wasn’t a lackadaisical effort, since he would “Apply for software jobs daily with no interviews.” Has he become discouraged about finding a job? “Yes, I’m ashamed to admit that I have, but I now realize I will no longer find work doing what I successfully did for so many years.

Virgil is the website designer and author of Keep America At Work where, in his spare time, he writes about the loss of American jobs and how to keep more jobs in America.

Virgil’s income has fallen from a high of more than $100,000 in 2003 to less than $20,000 today. His wants are simple; a full-time job and a place to call home, “I currently live in an old shack on one acre of land that I can buy for $70,000. This would be my first priority because it is way past time that I set down some roots and I’ve got everything that I need and want here which isn’t much these days.”

The participation rate — those employed or looking for work — remained at a historically low 64.2%, which signals a weak job market.

Another dubious record is that now it takes longer to find a job, 39.7 weeks, than at any time since data collection began in 1948.

“I have never stopped looking for a job through all my health issues, but I did slow the search down a bit after each surgery,” said Alexandra Jarrin who has been battling homelessness, long-term unemployment and health issues for more than two years. She has exhausted all available unemployment benefits and she constantly lives on the edge of being homeless.

Alexandra has been profiled previously about her work to bring 99er stories to Sen. Bernie Sanders. (99ers are the unemployed who have exhausted all unemployment benefits, which in some cases is up to 99 weeks.) Yet through all her hardships,Alexandra’s job search has remained constant, “I have continued my work search faithfully.”

As is the case with many long-term unemployed, Alexandra’s job search has encountered numerous obstacles. “A few places that seemed interested were no longer interested when they asked for my salary history.” She’s willing to work for substantially less than she has made in the past, but that presents its own challenges, “Once they see I have made a considerable amount of money in the past they are no longer interested. One company wouldn’t set up an interview until I gave them my past salaries and told them how much I wanted to earn. That puts you in a difficult position because you don’t know how they will perceive what you are asking for if it is so much less than you have earned previously. One person asked why I would be looking for a job in fast food when I held a substantial position in a corporation.”

Whether salary concessions, career changes or the need to update software skills, interacting with potential employers often seems hopeless to the long-term unemployed, including Alexandra,”There’s just no good way to appease them.”

What are Congress and the president doing to address a stagnant and possibly deteriorating jobs market? Nothing this year. The GOP controlled House has been directing their energies toward the debt ceiling debate, defunding Obamacare, eliminating Medicare for those 55 and younger, and abortion restrictions. President Obama touts the successes of corporate bailouts, the need to increase the debt ceiling and explaining the role of the US military in Libya.

Yet beyond the poor economy in general what are Americans most concerned about? Is it the deficit? No. Is it fuel prices? No. Is it taxes? No. Unemployment and jobs are the most important issue by an almost two-to-one margin.

The jobs issue has received limited attention in the House, but no legislative action that would help improve the plight of the long-term unemployed. The House Ways and Means Committee has conducted hearings on “How Business Tax Reform Can Encourage Job Creation”“How Other Countries Have Used Tax Reform to Help Their Companies Compete in the Global Market and Create Jobs”, and the ill-fated H.R. 1745, “Jobs, Opportunity, Benefits, and Services Act of 2011”, which included the option for states to cut the duration of unemployment benefits. While these business tax hearings may have some long-term value, they won’t create a single job in the short term.

The economy has improved for some; American companies are reaping record profits, Wall Street players are snagging outsize bonuses and compensation, and government continues its bailout policies of failed institutions. The economic picture is not improving for the long-term jobless. Congress is again in recess, so any action on the jobs crises will have to wait.

Long-term unemployment will worsen and wreck the lives of millions more unless Congress, the president and the private sector take immediate steps that lead to the creation of good jobs. ML in IL stated, “It isn’t okay to live this way.” That also applies to Virgil in TX, to Alexandra in VT and to America as a whole.

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