Call In: The Brian Lehrer Show Unemployed People’s Summit

Thursday, December 03, 2009

The White House is hosting a Jobs Summit today. The Brian Lehrer Show wants to hear from you. Let us know what you think President Obama should be doing to help people get back to work.

Give us a call or comment below!

Comments [35]

Jude Smith from NY

To clarify some comments made by your callers:
unemployment taxes are employer taxes. Employees do not pay unemployment taxes. Some of your callers stated that since they had paid the taxes, they wanted to receive the benefits. Also, the caller from NJ who was upset that she could not file and collect from NJ where she would receive a higher weekly benefit should know that she cannot file in NJ because her employer paid UI taxes to NY where the salary limit is lower than the limit in NJ, therefore the benefits are lower.

Dec. 06 2009 11:16 PM
lee from los angeles

Great segment Brian.

Dec. 03 2009 06:05 PM
Ingrid from Oak Ridge, NJ

I lost my NYC textile design job in 2006, due to bankruptcy of our client NC mill (once the largest US mill). After that, I was able to obtain work (full time hours) for 1/3 the former salary (no benefits) telecommuting my designs with a MA convertor (weaving goods off shore). Last year, December, they stopped paying altogether, (due to slow sales) and the only work available is on a royalty basis. In other words, I can spend weeks on any one design, and only have a chance to be remunerated a 2% royalty if/when it sells.
I am scrambling to get my designs out there, while I am able to collect unemployment, hoping for eventual income. Also applying for jobs every day, in all areas, with no call backs.
I have completely shifted my expectations, and now would welcome that 1/3 income!
In my 20+ years adult working life, I have never before been unemployed.
Recently watched the excellent, Schmatta-From Rags to Riches to Rags, and although I am not in the garment trade, my textile career has a similar trajectory.

Dec. 03 2009 02:19 PM
Eugenia Renskoff from Williamsburgh, Brooklyn

I have been unemployed for a long time. There is no unemployment in my case because I had been out of the country for almost 3 years. There are things that I can do and do well. I have skills, but nobody pays me to use them. That’s the big frustration in my life. It’s like I’m invisible. Right now I am thinking of being something besides what I have been—a novelist, a language teacher and translator. The big problem is deciding what that will be and if I will be able to get paid to do this new thing. I have noticed that I am getting depressed. I don’t like that, either. In 2010, I want to have my own apt. again. Eugenia Renskoff

Dec. 03 2009 01:56 PM
Susan from Brooklyn, NY

I've been unemployed for almost a year now.

After taking a 7-day temp gig, which paid less then my unemployment, and cost me even more in metro costs, I've had my UI benefits held up twice to "investigate" why I "left my job."

You would think the labor department would be encouraging and supporting folks to get out there, but that's not what's happening. As the systme is now, after taking a temp job you risk having your benfits held for weeks, or losing your benefits.

Dec. 03 2009 12:56 PM
andrea from rockland county, ny

All children should be taught to play a musical instrument, sing and dance. Music and dance teachers will be employed and the rest of us will benefit from positive energy that is generated through music and learned movement. Imagine kids in the public schools playing music, singing and dancing instead of screaming at football games, getting injured or just perpetuating a sport that smacks of barbarism. The emphasis of music and dance should be on fun and in-person communication not stardom. Incorporating new habits of music and dance into our society will help heal our increasingly fractured world.

Dec. 03 2009 12:38 PM
maureen mahon from montclair, nj

The president should (1)pass out golf pencils like they had boxes of at down at the Varick St. unemployment office last week (we didn't need them) (2)he should then pass out paper. Next,(3)list basic human survival and dignity needs,(4)list cost of items in (3), (5)add items in (4). Then,(6) figure out how to provide total in (5)- not magic number having no relation to (3)through (5)- to subjects. This would also work well in divorce. But it's hard work. Not gonna happen. But we can hope.

By the way, those of us out of work should have spent less time working and more time networking while supposed to be working. Just my opinion.

Dec. 03 2009 12:13 PM
Tommy from West Village

another idea: legalize marijuana and hemp growing
Let's get real , if alcohol is legal pot should be too.

A-you have more control over who is using it
B-the tax revenues could balance the budget and generate more unemployment funds
C-there would be many jobs created , farmers ,distributors , retailers etc..

Dec. 03 2009 12:12 PM
KJL from NJ

1. Under-employment insurance
2. Attention to immigration laws & quotas (I know we are a Global Economy but there is too much attention to restricting immigration from Mexico, Latin & South America when we seem to have a glut of “experienced” workers in the Information Technology industry from Asia when we have many of capable unemployed & under-employed citizens).
3. Out-Sourcing of Call Center, Software Development & Manufacturing jobs.

Dec. 03 2009 12:10 PM
Dr. Alan Trevithick from 953 w. Boston post 2c

Sorry I didn't get through-I am underemployed, not unemployed. As an adjunct professor of sociology and anthropology at three different areas schools, I am never going to show up on the unemployed list because I work on limited contracts. This is so for the 3/4 or so of ALL faculty in this country right now: university students are taught, overwhelmingly, by adjunct and contingent faculty who receive 1/3 of what "regular" faculty receive. We do the same work, we receive 1/3 the pay. We receive no benefits or pension funds. I would like President Obama to investigate this and to issue a presidential directive that no federally aided institutions of higher leqrning can use such abusive two-tiered practices. Meanwhile, organizations such as the newly founded New Faculty Majority (go to are working to make this issue more visible.

Dec. 03 2009 12:05 PM
Richard Williams from Larchmont, NY

I am a 48 year old unemployed music teacher who has had interviews with 22 school districts since 2002. I am currently pulling my end of expenses in my 21 year marriage by giving private music lessons and free-lance performing. All I want to do is be on the conductor's podium and make a difference in students lives.

Dec. 03 2009 12:04 PM
Tommy from West Village

We lost our manufacturing base no wonder there are no jobs
so many things we buy are made some where else
people are here from all over the world working while we don't have jobs
and companies hare are outsourcing
it's ridiculous
why doesn't the government do something about these things

Dec. 03 2009 11:58 AM
Corin from Upper West Side

I suffered an attack of depression in the early period of my most recent job, and I was fired within the first 30 days of my employment. Thus, I do not qualify for unemployment benefits.

I have been scraping by with odd jobs that have no benefits, and borrowing from friends and family, for over a year. I am on the edge of homelessness.

I wish that there were some kind of assistance available to those who are not eligible to be compensated by traditional "unemployment insurance." I don't mean welfare. I mean helping us go back to work, while offering us assistance with our living expenses.

Dec. 03 2009 11:58 AM

One thing we can do good is grow food. Instead of wasting money on subsidizing farms to NOT grow, and wasting even more money on corn for ethanol (which is a waste of food AND less efficient than gasoline) we should grow food with our land, in a responsible, self-sustaining way (none of these industrialized mono-culture farms). Then we sell food to other countries.

People who cannot find work in the cities can be given plots of land, we can subsidize new farmers to grow, rather than not grow crops.

Dec. 03 2009 11:58 AM
Claudia from Brooklyn

I am a teacher. I am unemployed because of the cut backs to CBOs to fund Kindergarten programs and the limited funding to UPK programs. I can’t work at a public school because of the political hiring freeze.

Suggestion: Maybe all deserving licensed teachers should be hired before hiring people from the Fellows program or Teach For America.

Dec. 03 2009 11:58 AM
jmt from Westchester

Don't forget the freelancers in all this. I was unemployed for much of this year and got nothing...yet still had to pay for my healthcare ($893.06 a month/ next year $1062.74 a month). I have some work now, but not enough to pay all my bills; and I can't switch out of my expensive health care coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

Dec. 03 2009 11:57 AM

I can think of two ways to generate jobs.

1) Convert the coal fired, gas and any oil fired plants to nuclear power.

2) Direct that all federal vechicle purchases should be natural gas vechicles to make proper use of our natural gas reserves. And, build out the infrastucture.

The end result:
1) you create high paying jobs. These jobs stay in the USA.
2) Make the move towards reducing CO2 emmissions
3)Cut our trade deficit because we would be importing less oil.

Dec. 03 2009 11:56 AM

I've been recently out of work, but I mainly freelance. Recently I worked nonstop on several projects, and now that I'm out of work, I have no idea when my former boss plans to pay me what he still owes. We need more protection for freelancers.

Dec. 03 2009 11:56 AM

We need factory jobs to come back to the US, give companies incentives to bring jobs back here. We should start exporting more than we import, money has to come from somewhere, and creating jobs just to get people paid only puts us deeper into debt.

We need cheaper places to live, landlords raise rents for their mortgages, and people can't afford houses. Lower the mortgage rate and give other incentives for landlords who lower their rent.

Dec. 03 2009 11:55 AM
Fielding Jones

Encourage job-sharing. Imagine if every job that now requires 60+ hours per week was divided into two jobs, with each person working 30-45 hours per week. It would create many more jobs and allow for a greater quality of life and less stress. People would have time to build community, really interact with their friends and neighbors, raise their kids, cook healthy meals, exercise, engage in spiritual activities and recreation. It's a family-values policy; it would lower health costs (eating healthy food and exercising help physical health; spirituality and community support mental health; and less stress is good for emotional and physical health); it would likely help with some environmental issues (if people eat locally or plant their own gardens, take time to walk places); and it would obviously help with unemployment. A win-win-win strategy that people across the political spectrum can support.

Dec. 03 2009 11:52 AM
Jill from east village

I would like a budget for promoting environmentally policies to Americans. Put all sorts of communications professionals to work making films, writing articles, creating PSA's, and so on-- to support green policies like solar panels, conservation, etc.

Also to echo the post about universities above, more government money should be put into our institutions for medical and science R&D. This should be safe from corporate biases and vulnerabilities.

Dec. 03 2009 11:51 AM
Tommy from West Village

We have to get our manufacturing base back
no wonder we don't have jobs so many things we buy are made somewhere else
and people who are here illegally are doing much of the work
I'm all for reasonable immigration but legal immigration
also companies should be taxed heavily to out sourcing

Dec. 03 2009 11:51 AM
David from Astoria

I agree about the pell grants, I spent a few frustrating afternoons trying to find out a simple answer about continuing education classes. Those with higher education have very limited options and only access to "approved" classes. There were no "approved" classes that made sense for me but many, at the same price point, at other colleges I would have liked to take. The state would not bend on this issue at all.

Dec. 03 2009 11:51 AM

I am unemployed.

What we need is for someone *other* than Lou Dobbs to cover the largest story of the last decade, which is the exporting of American jobs overseas. (When was the last time you called Citibank and got an American on the phone?)

Anyway, here's a suggestion for follow-up Friday. The VERY FIRST thing congress passed after the Bush re-election in 2004 was to allow the largest American companies to repatriate earnings from overseas at a lower tax rate.

It's a complex story, but it allowed them to (cheat/steal) on their taxes, and as a trade they all promised to "invest" the money in creating American jobs. Then none of them seemed to do so.

This was tens of billions of dollars. It was all on the front page of the NY Times. Who repatriated the earnings? Did they build plants in the USA? Did they just give the money to shareholders? What congress people supported this? Why?

This is the topic I would love to see the show address.

- Ben

Dec. 03 2009 11:50 AM
Peter from Brooklyn

Hi there. I have been unemployed for a year now. I would really like to see the President re-institute the WPA. It saved the country once it could do it again. Put the nation to work building bridges, solar panels, wind turbines, etc.. Its a time for great works and we can do it if put to the task. Please Mr Obama bring back the WPA!

Dec. 03 2009 11:50 AM
Emily from Manhattan

We just made a major move (back) to NYC from Europe so that my husband could start a fabulous job. Two weeks later the company laid him off (they ran out of money). Now we're in New York with no job, no healthcare and still unpacking. Not sure what I'd ask Obama for, but definitely extend the COBRA subsidy.

Dec. 03 2009 11:50 AM
Alice from Brooklyn

The first caller is right about the training grants. I'm so pleased that you'll be following up on this. I'm going down to the Workforce 1 Career Center in Brooklyn today to make an appointment to speak with someone about which grants I might be eligible for and I will share whatever I find out.

Dec. 03 2009 11:48 AM
Gregg from East Village by way of Norfolk, VA

I recently left my job in New York because my wife was offered a great job opportunity in Norfolk, VA. It was too good to pass up but the downside is that I cannot file for unemployment becuase I voluntarily resigned from my position. The alternative was for us to stay in the East Village, in a bad apartment barely treading water. Coming to Virginia is a great new start for both of us but because the job market is so bad, it'll take me months to find someting in my field or adjacent field (theater/special events). If I was able to file for unemployment it would help our situation with bills, rent, etc. Perhaps if the govenrment allowed this in times of severe unemployment rates. Perhaps if the rate is above 8% nationwide this could be enacted.

Dec. 03 2009 11:48 AM
markbnj from

Unemployed after 30 years in the IT industry.

We need a MAJOR update of the WPA

where we have a mandatory draft 17 or after graduating HS.

3 years in service or military.

see here for more ideas.

the idea is essentially use the military style indoctrination to introduce youth to service, how to work and then put them to work in skills that will

LEAD to a permanent job

such as building/road construction, skilled labor (how to teach/etc)...

so 3 years of this, will lead to the person having a CAREER, or job with growth.

In the 30's,
WPA let WRITERS write, photographers PHOTOGRAPH,

we need this now.. see my website for more on this info

Dec. 03 2009 11:46 AM
maldo from New York City

I wonder if maybe we're putting too much of a burden on the president and the federal government regarding job creation. Aren't there effective things that could be done on the state and city level? It's not as glamorous a question, but it might be a more meaningful one.

Dec. 03 2009 11:46 AM
antonio from park slope

Just wanted to retract "cool" from my previous post. I meant eye-opening.

Dec. 03 2009 11:31 AM
mozo from nyc

I feel that samll business needs access to low interest loans and liquidity. These companies could buy new machines, raw materials or expand, creating more jobs. We did it for Wall Street. Why not for Main Street?

Dec. 03 2009 11:29 AM
Michael Pisacane from Long Island City

This year I tightened my belt to get through my last of alimony/child support payments to my ex.
When I met with my accountant last April, he asked if I wanted to go on extension to max out my retirement contribution. I said no. I borrowed $31,000 against my HELOC @ 2.75% and contributed the money to my retirement acct investing it in an corporate bnd etf which was paying 6.75% and has gone up over 10% in value.

Now I'm done with alimony and child support and I have been to the Domincan republic, Napa Valley and Miami in the last month!

At some point I will repay the heloc (after borrowing more for this year's retirement contribution).

Dec. 03 2009 11:17 AM
antonio from park slope

Cool information regarding the Dubai crash..

Dec. 03 2009 11:14 AM
Evelyn from Jersey City, NJ

Instant jobs: Every college and university in this country had to put new construction plans on hold, this year. These are shovel ready projects that should be funded with unspent stimulus money. This would put lots of people to work, quickly, in every city and state of this nation.

There are about 4,000 such institutions in this country.

Dec. 03 2009 10:13 AM

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