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Thread: Holidays about survival as jobless benefits end

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    Elite Member celeb_2006's Avatar
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    Default Holidays about survival as jobless benefits end

    Holidays about survival as jobless benefits end - Yahoo! Finance


    Felicia Robbins talks about the expiration of her jobless benefits and her life with her five children at a Pensacola, Fla. homeless shelter on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2010. Robbins lost her job as a juvenile justice worker in 2009 and her last $235 unemployment check will arrive Dec. 13. Her 10-year-old car isn't running, and she walks each day to the local unemployment office to look for work. (AP Photo/Melissa Nelson)

    Shawn Slonsky's children know by now not to give him Christmas lists filled with the latest gizmos. The 44-year-old union electrician is one of nearly 2 million Americans whose extended unemployment benefits will run out this month, making the holiday season less about celebration than survival.

    "We'll put up decorations, but we just don't have the money for a Christmas tree," Slonsky said.

    Benefits that had been extended up to 99 weeks started running out Wednesday. Unless Congress approves a longer extension, the Labor Department estimates about 2 million people will be cut off by Christmas.

    Support groups for the so-called 99ers have sprung up online, offering chances to vent along with tips on resumes and job interviews. Advocacy groups such as the National Employment Law Project have turned their plight into a rallying cry for Congress to extend jobless benefits.

    Things used to be different for Slonsky, who lives in Massillon, Ohio. Before work dried up, he earned about $100,000 a year. He and his wife lived in a three-bedroom house where deer meandered through the backyard.

    Then they lost their jobs. Their house went into foreclosure and they had to move in with his 73-year-old father. Now, Slonsky is dreading the holidays as his 99 weeks run out.

    "It's hard to be in a jovial mood all the time when you've got this storm cloud hanging over your head," he said.

    The average weekly unemployment benefit in the U.S. is $302.90, though it varies widely depending on how states calculate the payment. Because of supplemental state programs and other factors, it's hard to know for sure who will lose their benefits at any given time.

    Congressional opponents of extending the benefits beyond this month say fiscal responsibility should come first. Republicans in the House and Senate, along with a handful of conservative Democrats, say they're open to extending benefits, but not if it means adding to the $13.8 trillion national debt.

    U.S. Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., the No. 3 Republican in the House, said extended benefits must be paid for now, rather than later, if they're going to win support from fiscal conservatives.

    "The fact that we have to keep extending unemployment benefits shows that the economic policies of this administration have failed," said Pence spokeswoman Courtney Kolb.

    Labor Secretary Hilda Solis told The Associated Press on Wednesday that declining to extend the benefits would be a mistake for Congress.

    "This is a bad way to start off the new, incoming season of new politicians that said that they wanted to make government work for people in a better way," she said.

    Even if Congress does lengthen benefits, cash assistance is at best a stopgap measure, said Carol Hardison, executive director of Crisis Assistance Ministry in Charlotte, N.C., which has seen 20,000 new clients since the Great Recession started in December 2007.

    "We're going to have to have a new conversation with the people who are still suffering, about the potentially drastic changes they're going to have to make to stay out of the homeless shelter," she said.

    Forget Christmas presents. What the 99ers want most of all is what remains elusive in the worst economy in generations: a job.

    "I am not searching for a job, I am begging for one," said Felicia Robbins, 30, as she prepared to move out of a homeless shelter in Pensacola, Fla., where she and her five children have been living. She is using the last of her cash, about $500, to move into a small, unfurnished rental home.

    Robbins lost her job as a juvenile justice worker in 2009 and her last $235 unemployment check will arrive Dec. 13. Her 10-year-old car isn't running, and she walks each day to the local unemployment office to look for work.

    Jeanne Reinman, 61, of Greenville, S.C., still has her house, but even that comes with a downside.

    After losing her computer design job a year and a half ago, Reinman scraped by with her savings and a weekly $351 unemployment check. When her nest egg vanished in July, she started using her unemployment to pay off her mortgage and stopped paying her credit card bills. She recently informed a creditor she couldn't make payments on a loan because her benefits were ending.

    "I'm more concerned about trying to hang onto my house than paying you," she told the creditor.

    Ninety-nine weeks may seem like a long time to find a job. But even as the economy grows, jobs that vanished in the Great Recession have not returned. The private sector added about 159,000 jobs in October -- half as many as needed to reduce the unemployment rate of 9.6 percent, which the Federal Reserve expects will hover around 9 percent for all of next year.

    For people like JoAnn Sampson, decisions made by Congress can seem very distant. The former cart driver at U.S. Airways in Charlotte and her husband are both facing the end of unemployment benefits, and she can't get so much as an entry-level job.

    "When you try to apply for retail or fast food, they say 'You're overqualified,' they say 'We don't pay that much money,' they say, 'You don't want this job,'" she said.

    Sampson counts her blessings: At least her two children, a teenager and a college student, are too old to expect much from Christmas this year.

    Wayne Pittman has been telling his family not expect much for Christmas either.

    The 46-year-old carpenter, along with his wife and 9-year-old son, have stopped going to movies and restaurants and buying new clothes. With his $297 weekly checks gone, holiday gifts are definitely out.

    "It's not in our budget," Pittman said. "I have a little boy, and that's kind of hard to explain to him. To try to let him know, certain things he's not going to be getting."

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    Elite Member Mel1973's Avatar
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    I couldn't read the whole thing. I cannot imagine having nothing to give my child on Christmas. I'm just going to be as generous as I can be to the local homeless. On Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, my son and I will get $200.00 in twenty dollar bills and give them out...
    Kill him.
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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    Don't give homeless bums money, half of them will buy Scope to drink.
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    Elite Member Mel1973's Avatar
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    I'm just such an easy target! They already know.
    Kill him.
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    Kill everything... that IS the solution!
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    twitchy molests my signature!

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    Elite Member louiswinthorpe111's Avatar
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    But seriously, 99 weeks of unemployment? When does it end? A juvenile justice worker? Isn't that a glorified social worker? You can't be telling me that no one a hiring a social worker, they have extremely high turnover.

    and an electrician can't find a job in 99 weeks? I find this hard to believe.
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    Elite Member sluce's Avatar
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    ^^ I agree. There neds to be support but over a year is too much IMO.
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    Elite Member NVash's Avatar
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    ^ You would think so but no.

    Unemployed, and Likely to Stay That Way



    CATHERINE RAMPELL, On Thursday December 2, 2010, 1:38 pm EST
    The longer people stay out of work, the more trouble they have finding new work.
    That is a fact of life that much of Europe, with its underclass of permanently idle workers, knows all too well. But it is a lesson that the United States seems to be just learning.
    This country has some of the highest levels of long-term unemployment — or joblessness lasting more than six months — ever recorded. Meanwhile, job growth has been, and looks to remain, disappointingly slow, indicating that those out of work a while are likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. Even if the government report on Friday shows the expected improvement in hiring by business, it will not be enough to make a real dent in those totals.
    So the legions of long-term unemployed will probably be idle for significantly longer than their counterparts in past recessions, reducing their chances of eventually finding a job even when the economy becomes more robust.
    “I am so worried somebody will look at me and say, ‘Oh, he’s probably lost his edge,’ ” said Tim Smyth, 51, a New York television producer who has been unable to find work since 2008, despite having two decades of experience at places like Nickelodeon and the Food Network. “I mean, I know it’s not true, but I’m afraid I might say the same thing if I were interviewing someone I didn’t know very well who’s been out of work this long.”
    Mr. Smyth’s anxieties are not unfounded. New data from the Labor Department, provided to The New York Times, shows that people out of work fewer than five weeks are more than three times as likely to find a job in the coming month than people who have been out of work for over a year, with a re-employment rate of 30.7 percent versus 8.7 percent, respectively.
    Likewise, previous economic studies, many based on Europe’s job market struggles, have shown that people who become disconnected from the work force have more trouble getting hired, probably because of some combination of stigma, discouragement and deterioration of their skills.
    This is one of the biggest challenges facing policy makers in the United States as they seek to address unemployment. Its underlying tenet — that time exacerbates the problem — means that the longer Congress squabbles about how to increase job growth, the more intractable the situation becomes. This, in turn, means Washington would need to pursue more aggressive (and, perversely, more politically difficult) job-creating policies in order to succeed. Even reaching an agreement over whether to extend benefits yet again has proved contentious.
    Several factors trigger this downward spiral of the unemployed.
    In some cases, the long-term unemployed were poor performers in their previous positions and among the first to get the ax when the recession began. These people are inferior job candidates with less impressive résumés and references.
    In other instances, those who lost jobs may have been good workers but were laid off from occupations or industries that are in permanent decline, like manufacturing.
    But economists have tried to control for these selection issues, and studies comparing the fates of similar workers have also shown that the experience of unemployment itself damages job prospects.
    If jobless workers were in sales, for instance, their customers may have moved on. Or perhaps the list of contacts they could turn to for leads is obsolete. Mr. Smyth, for example, says that so many of his former co-workers have been displaced that he is no longer sure whom to pester about openings.
    In particularly dynamic industries, like software engineering, unemployed workers might also miss out on new developments and fail to develop the skills they require.
    Still, this explanation probably applies to only a small slice of the country’s 6.2 million long-term unemployed (that is, those who have been looking for work at least six months).
    “I can’t imagine very many occupations and industries are of the type that if you’re out for nine months, the world passes you by,” said Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal research organization. “I think this erosion-of-skills idea is way overplayed. It’s probably much more about marketability.”
    Indeed, many unemployed workers fret about how to explain the yawning gaps on their résumés. Some are calling themselves independent “consultants” or “entrepreneurs” so they can claim some sort of work experience since they were laid off.
    Mr. Smyth has been working on his own documentary film and trying to develop ideas for new TV shows with a friend. But with financing for such projects scarce, he says he is still looking for a full-time job.
    Employers are reluctant to acknowledge any bias against the jobless, and many say they try to take broader economic circumstances into consideration.
    “Generally speaking, when the economy’s good and someone’s been out of work for a year, you might look at them funny,” said Jay Goltz, who owns five small businesses in Chicago. “These days I don’t know if you can hold it against somebody.”
    Even so, old habits die hard, especially because unemployment has been unusually concentrated among a smaller group of workers in this recent recession than in previous ones, meaning that fewer workers bear the scarlet ‘U’ of unemployment.
    “From what I’ve seen, employers do tend to get suspicious when there’s a long-term gap in people’s résumés,” said James Whelly, deputy director of work force development at the San Francisco Human Services Agency. “Even though everyone on an intellectual level knows that this is a unique time in the economy, those old habits are hard to break with hiring managers and H.R. departments who are doing the screening.”
    It does not help when job-seekers are repeatedly rejected — or worse, ignored. Constant rejection not only discourages workers from job-hunting as intensively, but also makes people less confident when they do score interviews. A Pew Social Trends report found that the long-term unemployed were significantly more likely to say they had lost some of their self-respect than their counterparts with shorter spells of joblessness.
    “People don’t have money to keep up appearances important for job hunting,” said Katherine S. Newman, a sociology professor at Princeton. “They can’t go to the dentist. They can’t get new clothes. They gain weight and look out of shape, since unemployment is such a stressful experience. All that is held against them when there is such an enormous range of workers to choose from.”
    Though economists generally agree that getting the long-term unemployed back to work as quickly as possible is necessary to keep people from becoming totally unemployable, the mechanism to do so is unclear.
    Most forms of stimulus try to create business conditions that foster the nation’s output growth, which encourages companies to hire. Output has been growing only slowly, however, and has not stoked much job creation. There have also been other indirect incentives, like a small tax break for hiring unemployed workers, but as yet their effectiveness is unknown.
    Direct employment programs — like the public works projects of the New Deal era and World War II — might be the fastest way to put people back to work, economists say. But those raise concerns of crowding out businesses and displacing other workers. Besides, such proposals, which smack of socialism to some, seem politically unfeasible at the moment.
    One possible compromise might be broader-scale retraining and apprenticeship programs, suggests Lawrence Katz, a labor economist at Harvard.
    “That’s better than having more people just go on disability as a last resort, and then basically never return to work in their life, which many will do,” he said. The Obama administration has recently thrown its support behind an effort to overhaul community college retraining programs.
    “One of the reasons to focus on training for workers, even if you’re not training workers for new jobs, is that when you have workers who have not been in a job for a long time, you need to do all you can to get them to look and feel job-ready when the openings do eventually come back,” said Betsey Stevenson, the Labor Department’s chief economist.
    The real threat, economists say, is that America, like some of its Old World peers, might simply become accustomed to having a large class of permanently displaced workers.
    “After a while, a lot of European countries just got used to having 8 or 9 percent unemployment, where they just said, ‘Hey, that’s about good enough,’ ” said Gary Burtless, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “If the unemployment rates here stay high but remain relatively stable, people may not worry so much that that’ll be their fate this month or next year. And all these unemployed people will fall from the front of their mind, and that’s it for them.”

    Source: Unemployed, and Likely to Stay That Way - Yahoo! Finance
    It seems the longer one is unemployed the harder it is to get a job.

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    Bronze Member Sunshine's Avatar
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    I know people who collect more on the dole than a job that they could get. So they choose not to work. That pisses me off!

    99 weeks? Hello? They should have spent all that time looking for a job and taking what they could find. Be productive citizens. Sometimes the job you had is never ever going to come back.

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    Elite Member sluce's Avatar
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    No one can deny that there is a large group of people who looked at their layoffs as a chance to rest. There are even groups called Fun-Employment. They are enjoying the time off while collecting benefits and can still work part-time to earn up to 40% of the value of their benefits. The longer the benefits are extended, the longer they will stay Fun-Employed.
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    Elite Member NVash's Avatar
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    That may be true but I doubt theyd be lumped in with the crowd of people who are more than willing to go work but cant find a job. At least that would be the case with the articles here. However I think I see a point, it could be people like them that are getting peoples benefits cut off.

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    Super Moderator Tati's Avatar
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    ^ I don't think anyone is responsible for "getting people's benefits cut off" as such. They have to end at some point, don't they? 99 weeks doesn't seem unreasonable, and those who are receiving them knew how long they'd last from the outset. It's not like the rug is suddenly being pulled out from under them. It's just unfortunate timing that they happen to be running out near Christmas.
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    Elite Member qwerty's Avatar
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    ^^This is not just about those people whose benefits are running out as scheduled after 99 weeks.

    People are being cut off from much needed benefits now after 26 weeks of state benefits. That is unless you were eligible to file for the first tier (or higher tiers depending on how long you've been out of work) of federal emergency benefits before the November 28 deadline. If your state aid runs out after that date, you are SOL.

    There just aren't many jobs out there. And if the trickle down theory actually does work in this particular economic landscape, how long is it going to take for these benevolent, rich people to create jobs that can accommodate 15 million people of all age ranges with varying skills and education?

    People shouldn't be given a free ticket of course but most Americans have worked hard for what they have and many have lost everything despite doing "everything right" because of these assholes on Wall Street and in D.C. who care only about their financial bottom line. The government should help them out a bit longer as a big thank you for bailing out these jerks who are richer than ever while the American Dream has died for the rest of us. Plus, consider that our consumer based economy may worsen because millions of people will be drastically cutting their spending.

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    Elite Member NVash's Avatar
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    Doesnt make any sense. With many places not offering jobs and people still losing them this is a bad time for them to cut benefits. I honestly dont understand why they dont find some reason to force many people to hire more. As the article said about having five people do the work of ten. Sure, you can do it but the people arent happy and therell be many complaints. At that point theyre underpaid. Sadly no one cares. Jobs letting go of people because they have health insurance? My old job actually cut hours specifically so everyone would lose their insurance and didnt even try to cover it up. 'You have a problem with it you know where the door is' was their attitude. Alot of the things businesses are pulling off now should be illegal.

    Ive heard they have a quota system where many places need to turn in a certain amount of applications to prove people are applying. Im not sure how it works. The government should throw that out the window and have them report a certain amount of new hires every month. And minimum wage has to be raised. Who in the World can live off of $7.25 an hour when theyre cutting hours left and right?

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    Gold Member philbert_wormly's Avatar
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    Sorry but I think that 99 weeks is a really long time. Sorry once again.

    But then I wonder how it must be like to just settle out of dire necessity for Micky D's and try to live off of that.

    I wish I had an answer to this, but I do not.

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    Elite Member NVash's Avatar
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    Its okay, youre entitled to your own opinion. I think its a long time as well but I can also see that no one is hiring anywhere. I take it from your post that you have a job. Its very easy for someone employed to look around and say to everyone '99 weeks it too much'. Id love to argue that but I agree, it seems like too much. '26 weeks is too much'. Id love to agree but I know for a fact that it isnt. Truthfully I dont think there is such a thing as 'too much'. This is a recession. No one is hiring. Sure, they say they are and many people seem to be doing fine but when its you in their shoes its a whole different story. When its you pounding that pavement and looking for a job living on those benefits youll understand that no one can put a time limit on finding a job. No one can tell you how or when unless theyre handing you a job and no one is doing anything like that. Be nice if they would, Im sure itd end this recession real quick.

    I know a few guys who seem to be jumping from job to job. I know some guys who are forever unemployed. I bumped into a friend of mine recently who told me hed never been unemployed in his life and he didnt graduate college. Some people are blessed that way.

    And once I had to live off the dollar menu at Wendys to save money. I dont recommend it, that food gets old fast.

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