Unemployment Benefits Expire

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Read a recap of this conversation at It's A Free Country»»

George Wentworth, senior staff attorney with the National Employment Law Project, and John Maggs, National Politics Reporter for POLITICO, reflect on the end of many federal unemployment benefits.


John Maggs and George Wentworth

Comments [30]

unemployed from NYC

Hello NPR,

Please read this outstanding article by your colleague D. Hines;

Dec. 02 2010 09:05 AM
Government should DIRECTLY create jobs - from The New America.

What the long term unemployed need
are JOBS.

Currently, government attempts mostly
lack focus.

If you want to create jobs :

1) Government should DIRECTLY hire
the long term unemployed to perform
useful and needed tasks that fit some of
their skill sets and provide real long term benefits to the country - for example :
building homes for the poor, fixing and constructing infrastructure, working with
or improving government computer systems, assisting researchers, creating useful freeware, teaching kids (perhaps one's own), keeping libraries open, etc.

2) Private sector Incentives (including tax cuts) should SPECIFICALLY require additional hiring - particularly of the LT
unemployed. Vague broad tax cuts for
the rich will result in far fewer new jobs
than a tax cut that explicitly requires additional hiring (perhaps paid for by "unemployment
polluter" taxes on businesses that shed
jobs and transfer them overseas).

If you want to improve unemployment,
directly target it.

What the unemployed need are jobs.

Nov. 30 2010 09:30 PM
Public education, unemployment and family poverty from Finding A New Solution...

Here's a way to reduce unemployment, improve public education and reduce family poverty - ALL at the same time...

*Pay parents to teach their own kids.*

The annual cost of teaching a public
school student in NYC is about $20,000.

According to the 2009 HHS Poverty guidelines, the poverty-line income
level per year for a family of four is $22,050, and for a single parent
family with one child is $ 14,570.

If parents were allowed to teach their
own kids as a full time job, and were
paid the same amount that the public
schools get, this would virtually put
all families with children above the
poverty line.

Teaching one's own kids could be far more rewarding than many of the part-time,
temporary, insecure and undercompensated jobs available in today's economy.

This would :
(1) improve childhood education
(2) improve the living standards/stability/economic security of poor households.
(3) reduce unemployment by creating meaningful and stable jobs.
(4) increase the time parents can spend with their kids.
(5) give children strong incentives to study, and parents strong incentives to become heavily involved in ensuring that their children learn.

The job would consist of :

(1) teaching your children from an approved public school curriculum.
(2) going to classes in the evenings designed for parent-educators.
(3) Using instructional aids, plans and lecture DVDs as per the curriculum.
(3) Frequent (monthly) testing to make sure students were at least up to existing public school standards.

Both students and parents would be paid more (a "good student bonus")
if the students did better than public school averages.

Parents whose kids did not perform sufficiently well for several months
would be given intensive retraining, and if this did not correct the
problem, they would be "fired" as their child's teacher.

This clearly links being a good student with financial security and improved earnings.

It also will help family income and reduce unemployment. It will provide the security needed for families to be stable and thrive in these difficult times.

Given all these benefits, Is this approach really too Schumpeterian for serious consideration ? ...

Nov. 30 2010 09:13 PM
Greg caulfield from New York

I will tack test to become post man .
I have been on medicare before

Nov. 30 2010 02:10 PM
Stephen from LI NY

I have been out of work for almost a year, before this I have worked continually since I left HS in 1970. And before that every summer while in JHS, I worked (in construction off the books) alongside my father. My parents are from the old school, they believe in hard honest day work. They instill the sense “rugged individualism” in me. When I was growing up my father had to work 2 and 3 jobs to make ends meet, while my mother travel from end of Brooklyn to the end of the Bronx to clean & cook for Doctor. I would rather be working than to collect money from anyone even when it’s the money I was giving to the government for over 40 years. I have been in IT since I started college in 71 and now most companies will not hire me at my age even if I as for ½ the salary I was making. In the long run the jobs are just not out there. Most companies are not hiring, they are just sitting on the money. This is my theory why we can find jobs. I call it the Obama factor. Most business (own or run by CEO that are Republican) are helping in keeping the unemployment high so that Obama will not be electable for the next term. The American public will not vote for this president again if unemployment stays this high. If the GOP becomes the CEO of the country then we see private industries hiring pickup.

Nov. 30 2010 11:49 AM
c kaufman from NJ

The devil is in the details. Linking unemployment benefits to government labor statistics is a good idea. It lessens the chance of political game playing with an issue that has painful effects on millions of lives, and the ripple effects of a mass unemployment shock on society. We know there are too many powerful political factions today that feel that a mass devaluation of American wages and compensation from high unemployment is a very profitable and positive thing for some person’s boardroom. This is not going to keep a consumer driven economy going.

Even labor department stats are still vulnerable to political manipulation and spin. The unemployment percentage everyone uses, 9.6% today, is not the total picture. Many times politicians during the last decade or more said we had “full employment”, but the monthly jobs created were way below the numbers necessary to achieve this, and the job market in the US has been shrinking in so many industrial sectors for years and years. Besides the fact that average length of employment is tragically low by any standard, the underemployment category is at least 50% higher then 9.6%. I believe these are people still looking for another job to replace the one they lost, are taking on any part time work temporarily, and can’t afford to choose to work part time permanently.

To make sure a few powerful politicians in Washington don’t cause pain and instability to the public, and society, at large for the benefit of a few small profitable interests, I think they should link unemployment benefits to job market growth, and include more unemployment categories. This way no one can play a shell game of offloading mass amounts of people from the unemployment numbers and claim they are working fulltime when their not.

Nov. 30 2010 11:38 AM
Marissa from Manhattan

I suggest that if Congress doesn't want to pass unemployment benefit extension without a way to pay for it, each member offer up his or her salary for the year; and try to live on the amount of unemployment benefits they will offer for our citizens. I know their salaries are only a drop in the bucket; but the exercise could be beneficial to improving the empathy toward those having trouble finding work in this economy.

Nov. 30 2010 11:07 AM

Unemployment insurance is just that - insurance for when someone loses their job. And everyone who works pays into the fund. It is misleading to say that only the tax payers are funding this. What about all those years that everyone who has been unemployed have paid a portion of their paychecks for exactly this benefit? Has this been conveniently forgotten? Unemployment should NEVER be compared to welfare or any other handout program. Unemployment is not a handout, it is an insurance program that everyone who is receiving it has paid into. (Note that unemployment benefits are calculated on a percentage of the workers previous salary etc.) Stop calling unemployment a handout.

Nov. 30 2010 10:45 AM
Karen Taylor from Flushing

I've been unemployed for six months. I have now sent out 270 resumes. Because my job expertise is in the non-profit sector, it is particularly challenging: non-profits are struggling to keep afloat as corporations and foundations reduce their grants. Ironically, it is in the non-profit sector that we find job training organizations, family support counselors, and inexpensive health clinics. I hope that as the economy slowly recovers, that more jobs will be available in these areas - their existence ensures that people like me can get the support we need as we look for work.

Nov. 30 2010 10:40 AM
thatgirlinnewyork from manhattan

it's not so comforting to find that many people listening are in the same boat. clearly no one on this program cares to talk about freelancers, because this country, which loves to use what they call "temporary help" via people with very specific skills sets, all in the name of calling them freelancers, and not allowing them the benefits of other employed people.

brian, please have the courage to do your next show on this very important topic. i'd put money (the money i've paid into this lovely system since i was 16) on the fact that there are millions of us in the nyc area.

Nov. 30 2010 10:39 AM
Economist McGill from Quebec Nation

The question of incentive effects and aggregated demand effects is one of counteracting forces. The usual unemployed worker is budget constrained is likely to spend the entire government insurance benefit. Therefore aggregate demand would increase. But the total aggregate demand would not be as large as direct government purchase of goods like office furniture or extra services like more border guards say at the US-Canada border in the NY-Quebec crossing.

But increasing coverage (either by a larger weekly benefit or by increasing the types of employment covered) provides the extra demand and also insure the unfortunate worthy people who are made poorer by losing their jobs. However, some job loss would happen even in an expansion. Those job losers may get a job without insurance. Benefits to those short term unemployed would not increase employment. It acts as insurance and not stimulus.

The type of unemployment benefit that is most like stimulus is for the LONG TERM jobless. They cannot get work because they are unemployable even in expansion. Unemployment insurance to them helps the economy in recession because it is disguised stimulus.

The THIRD type of unemployed, those who lose their jobs because their employer needs to cut back hours and who would return to the same type of job in expansion, get BOTH the insurance effect and stimulus effect.

The BIG PROBLEM is that the unemploymeng insurance program does not try to distinguish amog these three groups of unemployed.

Each group should get a separate and different program.

Also there is some evidence among people in seasonal industry (FISHING in the Canadian Maratimes, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and P.E.I.) that the system is abused.

That woman returning to her old job would be indistinguishable from fishermen. Those the program needs to be made to address abuse by the employers in seasonal industries like tourism, fishing, holidaying/hospitality etc.

Nov. 30 2010 10:32 AM
Unemployed 2 from NYC

Some comments are accurate, during our long term employment we pay into the fund to help us in the times when we are out of work;
We need to know how large is the unemployment insurance fund and to what degree it covers our needs if we are unemployed longer period of time. We all know who created a financial meltdown and caused the crisis we live in; and now they are concerned about us being lazy and not looking for work. It is a shame what republican party is doing. Those who can create employment are not focused on doing so and it is expected that long term unemployment will remain for few more years to come; what will we do then?

Nov. 30 2010 10:32 AM
April from Manhattan

I'm getting so tired of Obama trying to be a Republican to win Republicans. The populist anger is diffuse. If the president had the guts to point out that money DOESN'T trickle down, as the Rs claim it will to extend tax cuts for the rich, and that they talk a lot about small businesses but are the party of BIG business, And mention the vast income disparity that isn't going away, make the banks loan, make them give folks their houses back, then people might have jobs, because business would pick up. Mayor Blomberg in a recent article in the Economist said that "New York is a luxury city." How clearly put!

Nov. 30 2010 10:30 AM
mick from NYC

I have been unemployed for over a year from a long career in IT. I have applied for many jobs every week and continue to apply. BUT I am over 60 years old and I am sure that many of the jobs I have applied for went to younger people who were less qualified than I am. Until this country puts some teeth into its anti-discrimination laws, including age discrimination, we are caught in a trap. But all over the country people are in as bad or worse situations than mine. How long will it take until some people without hope in Nevada or Michigan (the states with highest unemployment) start agreeing with Sharon Engle and begin looking for Second Amendment solutions to their problems?

Nov. 30 2010 10:29 AM
LL from Brooklyn

If you end the unemployment benefits, it will not only affect the unemployed person, but you'll also have an impact on the larger economy. People use their benefits to pay their rent and mortgages, groceries, utilities, student loans and small pleasures like coffee or a new pair of socks. My question is how would ending unemployment benefits affect the people who are not receiving benefits, but benefit from the money spent by the unemployed?

Nov. 30 2010 10:26 AM

I have been hemorrhaging money for over a year now. Unemployment doesn't pay enough to meet my expenses, and I live very cheaply. If I lose my benefits, I will have to be like Jeff and live off my credit cards.

I agree with Jeff. There should be some sort of WPA for folks like us who have great skills and who want and need to work. I would LOVE to get off unemployment!

Nov. 30 2010 10:26 AM
unemployed mom from Westchester

I have been unemployed for almost 2 years (although currently at a temporary job, will see what happens to my benefits when this is over!). I must admit that the first year I did not look that hard. I needed the break, my kids needed me and unemployemnt benefits kept me going. However, what I would say to the conservatives is that I used my unemployment benefits to continue doing and buying the things I did before, so the money went back into the economy. I believe this served as a stimulus for the economy, in my case.

Nov. 30 2010 10:26 AM
thatgirlinnewyork from manhattan

what if you fall into the classification of a freelancer? freelancers, even those who have been one, rather successfully, for several years are also facing joblessness or severe underemployment now. the system as it stands does not allow us qualify for benefits, yet we're taxpayers while employed, same as everyone else.

many sectors of the business economy depend upon this type of worker. what can be done for their contribution to the economy? it's rare that we have a choice to work as permanent workers if the trend looks otherwise.

Nov. 30 2010 10:25 AM
Billy Gray from Greenpoint

Sunshine from Bushwick wrote:

> "I'd like to ask then where did all that money go we have been paying into for precisely this moment in history"

I month in Afghanistan = $6 billion.

Nov. 30 2010 10:25 AM
Back Working from NYC

Hey, we pay for our own benefits thru an unemployment tax on payroll. The money is going somewhere, have the politicos account for it, they are ripping us off like they are doing to social security. Dont touch our money!@!!

Nov. 30 2010 10:25 AM
Billy Gray from Greenpoint

Fixing the "disincentive" for Republicans is really a matter of creating a new underclass, of putting all "those" people who aren't "we the water carriers" back in their place.

I think a lot of these teabaggers don't realize that they're part of "those" people who are going to get thrown under the bus.

Nov. 30 2010 10:22 AM
Sunshine Hernandez from Bushwick

I like to take this moment to point out that these unemployment benefits that are out there were paid out by the people who are using them. I have spent my whole life paying into this, 20yrs and plus. I get very angry when the goverment says "Hey we can't help anymore"....I'd like to ask then where did all that money go we have been paying into for precisely this moment in history

Nov. 30 2010 10:21 AM
Unemployed from Queens

I have been unemployed for 16 months and was not able to land the job; I was prepared to take lower level jobs w/o benefits, I was not able to get work; Unemployment benefits feed me and my family and may pay for doctor bills; my husband was also laid off two times this year; Employers take advantage of families in difficult situations; I do not think that DOL does much to help unemployed workers. I went to their office several times and was not able to get far; they give only a generic advice. And Work Force 1 is useless; People hired there to help people find work, I doubt they can help majority. Long term unemployment is humiliating, destructive and miserable.

Nov. 30 2010 10:21 AM
jake from NYC

It seems to me that the people who are responsible for causing the economic meltdown have no business making the decision to stop or extend benefits. I also find it disconcerting that the government should be using their authority or power to push ideology and delve into social psychology - i.e. unemployment benefits make people lazy.

If the economy were strong, there would be jobs to be had by all - even the lazy ones. Republicans believe in social Darwinism, and cutting benefits is in line with this thinking.

Nov. 30 2010 10:20 AM

Doesn't unemployment come out of unemployment insurance which employers pay?
Where does the government come in?

Nov. 30 2010 10:20 AM
Maggie from Brooklyn

Are taxpayers paying for unemployment payments? I thought they are financed by employers and employees.

Nov. 30 2010 10:18 AM
Joseph Silovsky from brooklyn

I am a freelancer and find it annoying that this great government program is not available to me. It seems like much of the country is heading more in my direction- moving from project to project rather than being an "employee." The unemployment program needs to be adjusted to allow for its use by this growing section of the population, though I have no idea how that would be accomplished...

Nov. 30 2010 10:17 AM

isn't it true that the unemployment rate for people with a college degree is less than 4%. seems to me the way to get a job is to have a degree.

Nov. 30 2010 10:17 AM

I think they should put an end to the extended unemployment payments.
I have a nephew who is 26, he worked for the first time only for 6 months in 2008 before was laid off, he has been collecting unemployment payments ever since. It has made him lazy, most stores are hiring but he refuses to go out to look for work and there are many people like him.
Put an end to it.

Nov. 30 2010 10:11 AM
Jeff Pappas from Ct.

As an under employed freelancer / small business person in the Arts I do not qualify for any benefits. So its go to the credit cards : (
What about something like the WPA for the millions of people like myself ?
Also what about a low interest long term loan with fair terms so I could transfer all the bad debt to something I could afford.
I have paid ontime for over 4 years, am a homeowner with a mortgage, yet have a low credit score just for asking and being close to max limit !

Nov. 30 2010 10:09 AM

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