Saturday, May 24, 2014

Rage: The Long-Term Unemployed Are STILL SCREWED

From Five-Thirty-Eight:
Laurusevage, 52, is one of more than a million Americans who lost payments when Congress allowed the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program to expire at the end of last year. The program, which Congress created in 2008, extended jobless benefits beyond the standard 26 weeks provided by most states; at its peak, the federal government provided an unprecedented 6 million workers with up to 73 weeks of benefits. The Senate earlier this year voted to renew the program, but House Speaker John Boehner (personal note: you sonofabitch!) hasn't allowed the measure to come to a vote in the House.
The case against extending unemployment benefits essentially boils down to two arguments. First, the economy has improved, so the unemployed should no longer need extra time to find a new job. Second, extended benefits could lead job seekers either to not search as hard or to become choosier about the kind of job they will accept, ultimately delaying their return to the workforce.
But the evidence doesn't support either of those arguments. The economy has indeed improved, but not for the long-term unemployed, whose odds of finding a job are barely higher today than when the recession ended nearly five years ago. And the end of extended benefits hasn't spurred the unemployed back to work; if anything, it has pushed them out of the labor force altogether.
Of the roughly 1.3 million Americans whose benefits disappeared with the end of the program, only about a quarter had found jobs as of March, about the same success rate as when the program was still in effect; roughly another quarter had given up searching. The rest, like Laurusevage, were still looking...

With chart from the article:

It's that "Stopped Looking" that should break your heart.  It's more than the ones who found a job in time.  It's the number of people dropping out - despairing - and most likely not coming back.  For bad and for worse.

Regarding Laurusevage:
Laurusevage didn't expect it to be this hard. She had been her family’s primary breadwinner, earning roughly $60,000 as a health and safety officer for a Philadelphia-area heating and air conditioning company. Her husband, David, earns less than $35,000 a year selling truck parts. When her position was outsourced in April of last year, she thought that as a college graduate with a three-plus-decade history of steady work, she would find a job relatively quickly. But in many ways, her experience is typical. The long-term unemployed — typically defined as those out of work more than six months — are slightly more educated on average than the broader population of job seekers. And older workers like Laurusevage face a particularly tough time: The typical job seeker in her 50s has been out of work 26 weeks, versus 17 weeks for the typical 20-something.
There has been, continues to be, massive age discrimination against the unemployed.  Part of it involves the practical issues of re-training someone to new work, part of it the refusal of companies to invest in a worker who'll retire in 10-15 years compared to a worker they can control for 20-30, part of it the irrational fear of hiring someone who lost a job, like as though there was something wrong with that person rather than a problem with the down-sizing company who slashed and cut with haphazard panic.

There's also the problem of the education.  Normally having a college or graduate degree gets you hired right quick.  In this recession, it's two strikes against you.  If you seek a job in a profession unrelated to your degree, your would-be employer is afraid you'll bolt for that other profession the moment you get a chance (this really hurts when you're a graduate-level job-seeker looking for part-time work in anything).  Other would-be employers would fear you would be too experienced, someone less malleable in terms of training and inter-office politicking.

And so, into all of this, we still have a sizable population of the United States struggling to stay afloat, struggling to keep a roof over their heads and food on their tables.  We have a situation that calls on Congress to provide help as they've provided help before: with emergency aid funding, and laws to fix the discriminatory hiring practices against the long-term unemployed.

And Boehner, that coward that crook that SONOFABITCH, refuses to get the House to act.  Because it's against the Far Right ethos of helping "the lazy".  Because it's too Keynesian for their ideological obsession with austerity and "small government".  Because it's not something that will embarrass or impeach Obama.  Because it's not #Benghazi or tax cuts or repealing Obamacare for the 58th time.

Goddamn them.



Sarah Glenn said...

Question: what are the 'given up' living on? Do they get food stamps? (hence lazy by GOP standards) Sponging off relatives? (see above) Homeless? (see above, but add "unemployable 'cos they're winos")

Just wondering. And I'm all too familiar with the 'but I have a degree and lots of experience' dilemma. :(

Paul Wartenberg said...

Some may be getting food stamps, but it would depend on their having children, and for what I know their level of education. As a single male with a college education, I could never qualify for food stamps (the two times I checked, back in college and about two years into my long unemployment, that was the case).

I don't know the number but there have been some who lost their homes (and their credit rating). Most likely, most of the long-term unemployed are in situations with a spouse still earning an income, or living with the help of family members providing some meager support until such time as they can qualify for retirement funds...

The thing is, it shouldn't be like that. The Far Right may scream about leaving the long-term unemployed "dependent" for federal aid, but the alternative is leaving these poor people dependent on struggling family members working overtime to keep THEMSELVES out of the unemployment trap.