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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

More than 99 weeks of unemployment compensation?

Are there more than 99 weeks of unemployment available?


No.  Not in the United States.  And in many states, the available number of benefit weeks is less than ninety-nine.  It depends on the state unemployment rate and specific state laws.  The number of unemployment weeks changes fairly frequently.  CNN has a map on their site, but it is not up-to-date.   This page at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities appears to have accurate, up-to-date data on the number of weeks available in the various states..


Answers to comments and questions that I've heard repeated over and over: 


When does the 99 weeks stop?


Right now, it appears that people who are on a "tier" at the end of December 2011 will finish out that tier and that will be that for the federal tiers.  People should be able to get EB (Extended State Benefits) if they live in states that qualify.  State EB benefits are usually an additional 13 to 20 weeks. 


Why should the government keep paying people who are out of work for 99 weeks?


Bottom line:  Because there are not enough jobs, and people who are among the long-term unemployed will be the last to be hired back as the unemployment rate goes down.


The 99ers are too picky.  Anybody who wants to work can get a job in two years.


See   Just Take Any Job!  .  Only people who have been out of work for an extended period of time should make comments like this.  If you haven't been looking for work in this economy, you need to consider yourself very lucky and keep your mouth shut.




We are encouraging these people to stay on the government dole.  Studies have shown that the longer people get unemployment compensation, the longer they stay unemployed.





Actually, studies show that there is little or no correlation between the length of time someone stays on unemployment compensation and the length of unemployment.  And the studies that are out there have not been done when the economy is as bad as it has been recently.  I'll update this entry when I find the links and info about the most recent studies (dating back to the early 2000's) that have been done about this.

Also:  If you believe this is true, then why are there so many people who have been unemployed for 99 weeks, have exhausted all of their benefits and still can't find work?  Wouldn't they have all found work by now-- the week or two after their benefits expire?



My brother/sister-in-law/next door neighbor was laid off, and he/she found a job in a month!


Good for them.  Perhaps he/she knew somebody.  Perhaps he/she had some skill set that is in demand.  Perhaps he/she is younger or /more attractive.  Perhaps he/she was just plain lucky.  Also, people recently unemployed (unemployed in the last 6 -9 months) are going to be favored over people who were laid off at the beginning of this crisis.




My brother/sister-in-law/next door neighbor was laid off two years ago, and he/she just sat around on the government dole.


Unless you have frequent conversations with this person, you really have no idea what they have or haven't done in terms of finding work.  If they see you as unsympathetic to the plight of the unemployed, why would they tell you anything of their job search?


Perhaps he/she had significant savings and could actually take things easy for awhile.  Perhaps he/she has some other source of income, such as a working spouse, and he/she could actually take things easy for awhile.  Perhaps he/she is on the computer day in and day out looking for and following up on leads and he/she isn't confiding in you.


Anybody without significant savings and/or a working spouse is going to struggle if he or she is trying to get by on unemployment compensation, which averages about $300 a week.


If you really think this person is cheating on the government, and this is as offensive to you as hedge fund managers getting billions a year on their machinations of the economy, or CEO's getting millions a year while they lay off and off shore workers, then, by all means, call your local unemployment office and report those poor saps for taking advantage of the "handout" of $300/week.




The unemployment rate is going down, why do they still need unemployment compensation?


(Check this link for updates to employment/unemployment numbers.)


There were 800,000 more people working in January 2011 than in January 2010.  However, we added about 1,800,000 to the civilian non-institutional population (people 16 and over who are not incarcerated, in the military, in nursing homes, etc.) during that time.  The unemployment rate has really gone down because so many people have stopped looking for work.


There are still about 30,000,000 who are "officially" unemployed, who want a job but haven't actively looked in the past four weeks, or who are working part-time but want a full-time job.  Thirty million.  That doesn't include people who have taken early retirement because they can't find a job; people who have small businesses that don't provide much income, etc.  Nor does it include people who have returned to work with decreased wages.


Unemployment and underemployment is still a really big, serious problem.  Only people who have their heads in the sand or are on the payroll of some right-wing organization could possibly believe otherwise.


I don't think there is anything wrong with continuing unemployment benefits as the economy sucks.  But we don't have enough money in the government's coffers to keep paying people.


No, we don't have that money in our back pockets.  If you are a deficit hawk, you are more concerned about the size of the deficit than you are concerned about the impact of cutting government spending to the quick on a fragile economy.  An extra 14 weeks for 1 - 4 million who have exhausted their benefits will cost the U.S. about 15 billion.  That's a nice chunk of change, but it is rather small compared to many of the other numbers in the federal budget.  And it is really small compared to the billions that would have been pulled down into the federal government if the Bush tax cuts for the rich hadn't been extended.    


Why should we provide for people who can't find work in 99 weeks, even if they have been looking for work?


Maybe because it is the humane thing to do.  Do we really want people starving on the street?  And is it better for the economy for people to have some money to spend vs. not having any money to spend.. .and then  turning into "losers" who really are stuck on the government dole for good?  And what good does it do to your bottom line ... to the value of your home or your neighborhood...... if you have a string of foreclosed and vacant homes on your street?  You do know that now, for the past two years, the biggest reason for foreclosures is job loss, not accelerating mortgage payments?

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