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Dems Intro Bills to Extend Unemployment Insurance

November 4, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

With all jobs bills dead and the supercommittee almost certain to deadlock, Democrats in both chambers have introduced stand-alone legislation to protect the hardest-hit victims of the recession — the long-term unemployed.

The bill, H.R.3346 and S.1804 would extend expanded federal unemployment benefits until through 2012. If Congress does not pass an extension, extended unemployment benefits will begin expiring on December 31, 2011, leading to more than 2 million people losing their benefits by mid-February and 6 million losing them by the end of the year. At a time when there are 4 unemployed workers competing for every 1 job opening (and that’s not factoring all of the underemployed fighting for the same jobs), letting extended benefits expire would mean that the average unemployed person would go more than 3 months with no income before finding a new job. The average duration of unemployment right now is 39.4 weeks, while unemployment benefits will last for a maximum of 26 weeks if the federal extension program is allowed to expire.

The economy at-large will suffer as well if benefits expire. Because the unemployed are generally not in a position to put away money, unemployment benefits are spent quickly, stimulating demand for goods and services and helping to create new jobs.

But it’s going to be extremely difficult for the Democrats to get an extension passed in the Republican-led House and Republican-filibustered Senate. The extension we’re currently operating under only passed because it was packaged together with an extension of the lower Bush income tax rates. The Bush tax rates don’t expire again until the end of next year, so they can’t give another extension to the Republicans yet (although they’re already talking about it). But they’re going to have to package this with something that the Republicans have been trying to push through the Senate if they actually want to pass it.

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  • molonlabe 11/04/2011 7:45pm

    Long term unemployment benefits provide an incentive to NOT find employment. I was recently unemployed and did not take unemployment benefits. When I was searching for a job nearly every HR manager I interviewed with complained about applicants that were on unemployment who would rather stay on unemployment than work at their firm. If unemployment benefits were eliminated altogether I am sure the unemployment rate would drop by at least 3% within one month.

  • Comm_reply
    nancym 11/05/2011 11:35am

    Dream on. I’ve seen so many rubbish articles about how this or that employer was complaining, only to find out they were paying minimum wage or close to it. So in the beginning months of a person’s unemployment, they are naturally going to look first for something that will not actually make them homeless anyway in a very short time.

    You are completely ignoring the well-documented fact that if you take ALL of the jobs in this country and filled every single one of them at once, you’d still have 4/5 of the unemployed still unemployed. You really can’t argue the math. In fact, RECENT studies, not those from the eighties that Republicans love to quote, have shown any decrease in benefit lengths would drop unemployment by 1-2% at maximum.

    If you really want to advocate for some kind of change to the unemployment system, there are other ways to do it, including work-share and some other reforms. But relying on these kind of false anecdotal talking points won’t cut it anymore.

  • Comm_reply
    molonlabe 11/05/2011 11:54am

    The same people who complain that they are too good to work for minimum wage live on unemployment benefits that pay less than or equal to what they would earn at a minimum wage job. One can learn a skill or gain experience while working a minimum wage job. Also, researchers at Florida state university and Miami university found that 2/3 of minimum wage earners receive a raise in the first year.

    Also you implied I am a republican, just to make it clear I am a libertarian.

  • Comm_reply
    nancym 11/05/2011 12:07pm

    I didn’t mean to imply you were a Republican, only that you were using their talking points. But then Libertarian is just a subset, in recent history at least. It shows you are more directly descended from the Calvinist view of “every man for himself,” and “I did it, therefore everyone else is not worthy,” which I don’t consider honorable.

    As far as just “taking” a minimum wage job, you obviously have not been in a situation where everywhere you go you’re rejected because the employers consider you “overqualified.” Employers who employ minimum wage workers (they can tell, even if you doctor your resume) understandably don’t want to hire someone they are pretty sure will leave when something better comes along.

    As for your “research,” even a raise from minimum wage to $10/hr is still at the poverty level and not enough to prevent prevent a foreclosure or other serious hardships. So I have to say, “so what.”

  • Comm_reply
    ttmix 12/12/2011 2:51pm

    I can only speak on my experience. I was laid off after 20+ years in March of this year and during my search I have had several interviews. I search daily and obviously I would rather have a Management position like the one I had for many years. My background is Transportation but I have applied for Driving, Dispatching, Customer Service and even janitorial work. I have had a few potential employers at companies where I applied for an entry level opportunity tell me that “I’m afraid to hire you because you will leave as soon as you find something better” or “I feel that you are using this as a stepping stone” After 30 years of working, I have never had to draw unemployment until now. I would work two min. wage jobs right now if I could find them. I can understand that it is easy for those who are employed to sit back and criticize those of us who are down right now. I would be willing to reimburse any and all benefits that I have received to put away in a fund for the next person.

  • quitwhining 11/04/2011 7:54pm

    Unemployment should not stop all together. It is a good program to assist you in getting from one job to another when you are unemployed through no fault of your own. However, extensions need to end. People need to realize this is not a health and welfare program. There is a limit to it. It is not owed to you. It is a benefit not a right that not everyone is or should be entitled to. I hope they do not extend them.

  • luminous 11/04/2011 10:07pm

    Unemployment isn’t just a benefit to the people on it directly, think about all of the business transactions related to the unemployed being able to continue feeding their family, all of the businesses who service their gas/clothing/general appearance needs to go to and from job interviews. The damage it does when they lose their benefits and are unable to make mortgage payments and default on their loans(FYI you will pay for this in higher interest rates on loans and lower rates on savings sooner or later), The homes around a foreclosed home go down.

    And unemployment only pays 65% of a persons previous non-benefits wage, people don’t stay on unemployment because they want to, When you have a family, mortgage, car payment to make you need a job that pays well enough to cover those things simply taking the first minimum wage job isn’t an option if you can even find that!(and FYI MCD had 1,000,000 apps for their 60,000 winter jobs).

  • Comm_reply
    molonlabe 11/05/2011 11:28am

    Many people do in fact stay on unemployment because they want to. Unemployment allows people to wait months until they find a job opening that matches exactly what they are looking for. If there was no unemployment people would take perfectly suitable job opportunities to avoid poverty, instead people wait more than a year in some cases for a job with a higher salary. Others who are close to retirement use unemployment as a way to retire early. My uncle who is 59 is on long term unemployment and has turned down several job opportunities because he is using unemployment benefits as a way to retire early. He plans to stay on unemployment until his retirement benefits kick in at age 60. Regardless of one’s view on the necessity of unemployment benefits, I think everyone can agree that unemployment benefits should not be given to those who are not looking for a job or pretend to look for jobs but have no plan to work.

  • Comm_reply
    nancym 11/05/2011 11:50am

    As I pointed out above, you generalize about the majority on the basis of the very few. The solution to that is to require more careful monitoring of job applications and providing more help in finding work, not condemn the vast number of unemployed who are out there every single day sending out literally thousands of resumes and knocking on doors with no replies. Yes, of course there are people who game the system, but the majority are fighting to get one of those jobs that are only available to one out of five of all unemployed right now. (That doesn’t mean the same as five applying for each job, that means hundreds or thousands applying for each job.) For every example you can give me of someone like your uncle, I can give you at least ten who are not doing that, some of whom became homeless in the process.

  • Comm_reply
    nancym 11/05/2011 11:50am

    And frankly, if your uncle in the beginning was in fact one of those who spent month after month looking like everyone else and saw how totally bleak the situation was, especially back in 2008-2010, I don’t even blame him for giving up if he knew he could soon retire. (And there’s not enough room in this post to get into any bitterness he might have felt toward the bank bailouts in all this.) The unemployment rate for those over 50, especially when they are discriminated against not only because of age, but because of now being unemployed(!) is multiple times the national rate. And for those in certain jobs like construction, it has become hopeless in most states.

  • Comm_reply
    molonlabe 11/05/2011 12:00pm

    Being in a difficult situation doesn’t give anyone the right to give up, kick back and receive free money from the governments. It requires a lot of effort to get a job even in a good economy. I don’t really blame my uncle for taking advantage of the situation either. If the system is set up in a way that people can take advantage of it they will. It is just like the bank bailouts you mentioned, if the federal government had a policy that they would not bailout any business for any reason (which is a policy that should be adopted) then bankers and crony capitalists wouldn’t come to the gov’t with their hands out.

  • quitwhining 11/04/2011 11:36pm

    I never said unemployment wasn’t good or necesaary. My point is that people need to stop seeing it as a unending welfare program. It isn’t fair the employers who lay people off because of the economy to have to continue to pay 288% of normail ui, which in turn makes them lay more off because they can’t afford their ui tax, which has almost doubled in most states in the past 2 years to pay back the feds for the money they have borrowed.

  • luminous 11/04/2011 11:54pm

    UI tax wasn’t raised, The Federally funded UI extensions don’t effeect the UI tax rate!

  • quitwhining 11/05/2011 12:00am

    True EUC is paid soley by the feds, but FSE is half and half. And when the states don’t have enough money to pay out unemployment from their general fund, they have to borrow from the feds. Which most states did. So in order to pay back the feds they money the borrowed to pay REGULAR ui and FSE, most states increased their ui tax rate to employers.

  • luminous 11/05/2011 4:22am

    FSE only covers first 23 weeks of unemployment, so ending extensions on the Federal level would have no effect on States that raise UI rates due to original program costs.

  • molonlabe 11/05/2011 11:41am

    In reference to luminous’ assertion that unemployment benefits help the economy because the unemployed individual spend the money: The government obtains the money to pay for unemployment benefits by taxing (stealing from) those who actually work and by printing money which hurts everyone who uses US currency because the currency is debased. Inflation hurts the working poor the most because prices rise well before their wages. Taking money from someone who works and giving it to someone who doesn’t work only hurts the economy, for that matter any government intervention in the market hurts the economy.

  • Comm_reply
    luminous 11/06/2011 5:16am

    “printing money which hurts everyone who uses US currency”

    Total nonsense, Do you even know how the system works? Obviously you can name the most obvious method by which money enters the economy, You understand their is a second method right? You ever looked at how the “Fractional Reserve” system works?

    between 1999 and 2007 Mr. Greenspan printed $220 trillion dollars for use in temporary Fed loans via the Fed discount window. All of this has to be paid back to the Fed sooner or later, and guess what crash happened and the piper is due his gold.

    The amount of money leaving the economy via the pay down of Fed discount window loans by banks desperate to keep up with the shrink of their deposits(what backs Fed discount window loans).

    The quantitative easing(the method you obviously are familiar with for putting money into the economy) is a sensible solution to prevent deflation cause by money volume shrink as banks go from lucy:1 deposit ratio’s to 15:1(req in dodd frank).

  • molonlabe 11/05/2011 11:50am

    From all the whiners and bums who talk about unemployment on the news one would think that finding a job is impossible. I lost my job August 24th and found a high paying full time position as a salesman for a large cell phone company on September 20th, it took me less than a month to find a job and I have a felony drug conviction on my record which makes finding much more difficult for me than it is for someone without a conviction. Most people who complain that they can’t find a job simply don’t put forth the effort required to find a job. I went to 15 interviews when I was unemployed and applied for hundreds of positions.

  • Comm_reply
    nancym 11/05/2011 11:56am

    Lucky you! Again, you extrapolate generalizations from an infinitesimal amount of data.

  • molonlabe 11/05/2011 12:04pm

    One creates their own luck. My point is it certainly is not impossible to find a job even when one has the deck stacked against them.

  • nancym 11/05/2011 12:10pm

    Again, you are ignoring the data, the one job available for every 5 unemployed people. But I certainly never wanted to imply that one should give up, only that it can be understandable at times. At those times, people don’t need chastising and policy decisions that hurt them, they need help.

  • Comm_reply
    nancym 11/05/2011 12:12pm

    And it looks like we agree on one thing – the bank bailouts! :)

  • Comm_reply
    molonlabe 11/05/2011 9:03pm

    There are many private organizations that are better able to help people find jobs than the government.

  • Comm_reply
    nancym 11/07/2011 9:10am

    The federal government doesn’t need to help people find jobs directly; it just needs to keep funding the state agencies that have vast experience in doing just that. There are no private agencies anywhere near where I live in South Florida that do anything like what the local state workforce agencies do. Private agencies are good for charitable work like food and clothing after governments fail to support job creation. It’s the state agencies that provide direct help, along with training programs.

  • wstaff 11/15/2011 2:36pm

    Currently talking with a Labor Dept Attorney. Those that are close friends already know of the situation of being hired and sitting for now more then 30 days. Currently 500 + employees with this company (Un named for certain reasons at this point) who have met the same fate with this company. After two years of looking for work and finally in hopes to see light at the end of the tunnel, I lay stagnated in uncertainty. I have continued my job searches. I just hope others are not meeting with the same results from other companies doing the same thing ? Seems to me this is a new tactic to get unemployed hired and off the radar of the labor department to lesson the scoring those still unemployed. Logically you get hired and put to work in a short period of time Labor Departments response is hey your hired congratulation we will not look further into the way companies hire or mislead the unemployed. Down right un ethical habits.

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