Update January 2, 2013 (1 a.m.): The House has approved the Senate "fiscal cliff" deal and it has been signed into law. It includes CONTINUING the unemployment benefit extensions that were enacted last February and are described below. This does not mean that 52 weeks will be added to the existing deal, but that the existing deal will be AVAILABLE for another 52 weeks. It does NOT include any MORE extensions. Check your state's available unemployment weeks HERE. If, according to the chart HERE, people in your state were entitled to 73 weeks of unemployment benefits and you have used up your 73 weeks, you will not get any more weeks. But if you have only used up 60 weeks, then you will still get the last 13 (unless the unemployment rate in your state drops below the trigger). If you exhausted your weeks of unemployment benefits in 2009, 2010, 2011, or 2012, there are NO extra weeks for you. Please check back as we will include more details as they become available.
Update 1/1/2013 3 a.m. CST: The Senate approved a Fiscal Cliff deal that will extend unemployment insurance for one more year early this morning. It has still not been passed by the House. This does not mean that 52 weeks will be added to the existing deal, but that the existing deal will be AVAILABLE for another 52 weeks. I will have more information about this tomorrow morning; please bookmark this page and check back.
Well, here it is, 5:30 central time New Year's Eve and apparently the House of Representatives are going to pack up and go home for the night. Party time, you know?
Now the last we heard, the Republicans have agreed to extend extended unemployment benefits for a year; however, as that is supposed to be part of the whole fiscal cliff deal, that won't be set in stone for a few days at least. It will probably mean that people depending on extended unemployment benefits will miss a week of payments, but, as the measure will probably be passed retroactively, they will eventually get all missed moneys. (If you are trying to figure out how many weeks of unemployment benefits you might or might not have, please click to the middle of THIS PAGE.)
Now is this good or bad? As part of a family that depended on unemployment insurance last year at this time, I can tell you that it is very nerve-wracking to wonder how you are going to pay basic bills, keep a roof over your head, and keep the heat on if those extensions aren't extended.
Will the fiscal cliff deal cause a rise in unemployment?
Will the fiscal cliff deal cause a rise in unemployment?
Compared to no deal (which would have caused at least a temporary rise in unemployment), it is doubtful that this deal will lead to MORE unemployment. Actually, a moderate increase in taxes seems to stimulate employment and job growth. We've had the biggest periods of job growth in this country when taxes were a bit higher.. or even quite a bit higher.
Here are some facts for those who are complaining about the unemployment extensions and the "lazy" unemployed:
- "Are we supposed to keep extending those unemployment benefits forever? Those people will never get jobs!"
Nobody gets 99 weeks of unemployment anymore. These are NOT extensions for people who were laid off in 2008, 2009, 2010, or even early to mid 2011. I repeat: This is NOT about extending unemployment benefits to three or four years, as some seem to think.
The MOST anybody gets is 73 weeks of benefits, and that only goes to people living in about twelve states and territories: California, Connecticut, some people in Georgia (depending on when they filed for unemployment), some people in Michigan (again, depending on when they filed for unemployment), Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Rhode Island, some in South Carolina (depending on when they filed), people living in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. (Right now, Extended Benefits are not available anywhere; they are no longer available in New York.)
As the weeks of unemployment are tied into a state's unemployment rate, some people only get 40 weeks right now, including people living in North Dakota, Virginia, Wyoming, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Vermont. Those states have unemployment rates below 6%. Now, this is a big bonus to people in North Dakota actually: Even with a 3% unemployment rate, they still get those 40 weeks. Bummer. They should give some of those extra weeks to people in Nevada.
- "People are not looking for work because they keep getting unemployment extensions!"
Yeah, like that average $300/week payment is going to keep people living high on the hog. Here's the reality: As of October 31st (last data available), we have about 3,675,000 job openings in this country. We have about 12,029,000 actively unemployed people, about 2,100,000 of whom are getting federal extended unemployment benefits. Here's a simple subtraction problem for the naysayers: If every one of those 3,675,000 job openings were filled tomorrow, how many unemployed people would we have left? Yeah, that's right: 8,354,000. And there is no way to guarantee that the 2,100,000 now depending on unemployment extensions would get any of those 3 million job openings.
So stopping unemployment extensions when we still have over 3 jobseekers for every job will in no way guarantee that people will have work.
- "My neighbor/brother-in-law/cousin is just lying around the house collecting unemployment benefits. He's not even looking for work!" Or: "He's working for cash under the table!" Or: "He only works for six months and then he gets fired and collects."Yikes. Of course, there are people who are collecting and they should not be. I don't know any of them. If you know someone who is collecting and not looking for work (and you know they are not looking for work because they brag about it), find the fraud hotline for your state and turn them in. Do your civic duty! If you know someone working under the table and collecting benefits, find the fraud hotline for the IRS as well and turn them in. Do your civic duty!
About the guy working for six months, then getting fired and collecting. Look, you don't make much if you have only worked for six months, for one thing; secondly, if you get fired for cause (not coming in, drinking on the job, fighting on the job, etc.), you won't get unemployment benefits unless your boss doesn't contest your claim. If your friend's boss doesn't contest his claim every six months, there is not really much you can do about this.. except that I don't think this happens very often. Some seasonal construction workers only work 6-9 months a year and then they get laid off and legitimately collect unemployment. Most of them would much rather work more weeks during the year, as the unemployment doesn't necessarily make up for those 3-6 months they are off.
- Here's my favorite crazy comment, complete with typos and bad spelling:
"Only the lazy people can not find a job in the world . you just don't look in trhe USA you look all over the world to get your job there are plenty out their"
So.. I guess that someone who is unemployed should.... stow away on a ship to China?
March 2013 reports will be released Friday, April 5th. Check back then!