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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Should 99 Weekers Get Extended Unemployment Benefits?


Are you a 99 weeker ? Or afraid of becoming one. Most of you never thought that you would be collecting unemployment benefits for over one and a half years. How long should the federal government pay unemployment benefits? Do you think it should be 2 or 3 years? Should a re-training program be required?
Since unemployment hovers around 10% what should the role of government be. If real unemployment (U6) really is over 20% in many states does the government have a role in keeping its citizens from falling off the soci-economic cliff. Some say pay now or pay later. It really is simple. No work and no money a likely to lead to a decline in a persons physical health , mental health and economic contribution to society.
Thousands of our readers have expressed their desire and willingness to work. It is not just about having the perfect resume. Perfecting your interview skills. But having enough jobs that fit the skills of the available job seekers.

If you were trained to be skilled retail direct mail marketing expert. Over the last 10 years you watched as your industry has shrunk, your skill requirements changed and younger skilled workers entered the work force.
Some would say "loser" why didn't you retrain, change industries and  get a new job.  Some job seekers did. We applaud them. But others missed the cue's or perhaps found it difficult to change behavior or OMG just loved their job. Do you remember when people LOVED their work.
So I again ask you what role should government have? What voice resonates with you: "Let the Free market prevail". "Protector of the norm". "Facilitator of change".

Tell us your suggestions and comments below?

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  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. It's ironic that many of the politicians who helped create our current economic climate (and at the very least have failed to create adequate jobs) are still collecting pay checks, yet quibble over paying out the paltry amounts that would allow 99ers to at least survive and continue their job search efforts. I just read a Yahoo news report the number of 99er's is officially at 1.5 million people; this is a large number of overlooked workers. I see many dismissive and critical comments by the uniformed and I'm not sure who lacks the common sense to think workers who spent years support themselves just sit around all day, fat and happy as they collect a small percentage of their previous income, having depleted their savings and retirement funds to pay mortgages and other bills that UI payments don't cover? Or that another 14 or 21 weeks of unemployment insurance somehow makes of for the loss of security and dignity? At any rate, the government has failed to focus adequate attention on fixing the economy and they can ignore the 99ers and allow them to utilize food stamps and homeless shelters and other social services as they run out of funds--or they can extend their lifeline and perhaps that extra time and the funds to pay for food, gas and electricity will be enough time to find the job. And perhaps our government might consider acting on bills that would incentify employers to hire long-term jobless workers instead of the blatant discrimination we see going on right now. It seems sad that as a country we are so willing to bail out our big firms, banks, and even other countries, but so willing to ignore a large group of people who for the most part, simply walked into work one day to find out they were unemployed. It's easy to say one could have planned better or chose a different career but we are talking about every possible job type, seniority level, industry... with the possible exception of many medical fields.

  3. Personal Responsibility. Eliminate "age" from the discussion. Society through heavy taxation spends a fortune on education - the quality of which I think is mostly extremely poor - but that is another topic. It is NOT our government "job" to supply cash handouts to American people. The phrase "Unemployment Insurance" is a misnomer (really a lie). Insurance companies are profitable enterprises and charge a "rate" that covers their anticipated payout, expenses plus a profit. It is also "optional". None of these describe "Unemployment Insurance". No private company would charge the low rates with a 99 week payout. I can't count the number of ex bartenders, waitresses, school teachers - the list goes on - that sit at home watching TV because the difference in "pay" between an "entry level" (low pay) job an Unemployment Insurance "isn't worth it". Most of these people would have taken one of the low paying jobs if Unemployment Insurance "didn't exist" or "ran out" after 90 days (13 weeks), a term that private insurance "might" offer at a comparable charge with 100% "required" sign-up as exists now. Human nature for the majority being what it is, until we "privatize and rationalize" Unemployment Insurance, we should change its name to what it really is - WELFARE.

  4. Is USA's current structural unemployment situation in the USA not that different from Tunisa or Egypt. A million plus Egyptians under 30 working in other countries because they cannot earn a living at home. I am not just talking about laborers. It includes professional. What is the equivalent of our middle class. Or perhaps more like Italy where they talk of the "lost generation" who must go to other countries to work. Perhaps the next USA generation college Internships will be primarily in China:)

  5. Those who are employed don't care, those who have struggled looking for work only to find their appeals fall on deaf ears, resumes go unread, phone calls unanswered and emails deleted can only hope their is an end in sight. Paying into a system for decades entitles you to 99 weeks. If you object you are a crybaby who should have taken any paltry sum offered along the way. It's not really structural unemployment as it is a moral bias against not have a job, deep down in the Puritan makeup of Americans we loathe those who don't contribute, so they are assigned labels by our politicians such a "hobos" and the American public flocks to vote them in.
    Bitter, you 'betcha.

  6. Unemployment insurance should be for 13 weeks and maybe 26 weeks during a recession. Beyond that time, welfare and food stamps should absolutely be available. The reason we should not call it unemployment (and yes it does matter) is businesses unemployment taxes go up - making it difficult/more expensive for them to actually hire anyone in the future which creates yet more unemployment. Employees do NOT pay into unemployment. Employers do. Unemployment taxes have gotten so high that businesses are very hesitant to hire anyone - and extended benefits are a large part of the problem. At some point, it should no longer come from the unemployment funds, but from other social service funds.

  7. The world is divided among the haves and have nots. It seems as if over the last decade the middle (aka middle class) or 97% of America has rapidly gone from feeling like they were part of(or could be part of) the haves. They had an optimism as to their future of having enough. It was demonstrated every day by funding their children's education, 2 care families, Flat panel TV's in every room and weekend 2nd homes.That for those over 40 who are unemployed is perhaps forever GONE.

  8. In my case I have been out of work since April 2009. The Company I was working for furlough us so we can burn our vacation, sick and PTO up so they would not have to paid out a severance package. I send out on average 5 to 10 resumes a week since April 2009. I have several interviews but employers can be picky and set unrealistic requirements for what they are looking for. I have a couple of friends who are headhunters and they can't help me because of there company policy is if you are out of work for more than 6 months or not currently employed you will not submit you as a candidate for a any positions. I'm back in school to change careers but at age 46 it's going to be a long shot just to find a entry level positions. I use to make over 100k and lost everything to point that I'm really homeless. I'm been staying with friends who have a extra room and not paying rent. I look everyday and it gotten to point that at times I just wished I was dead. This happen over 15 years ago and it took me three years to find a job. So yea I think the government should help more to target older employees. In Texas we have only 93 weeks and not 99 weeks.

  9. Synthia,
    Thanks for sharing your story. I know its not much but at least you have friends to fall back on. Maybe 2011 bring you more success.

  10. Like Synthia, I too have been out of work since 2009. In my case, my company gave me exactly a two week notice they were closing the doors. Unlike her, we did not have any type of severance, so we were left hanging in the wind. Unemployment recently ran out. If not for the generosity of others I would be on the street. The re-training options are few for this 55 y.o.and the rejection s many. Savings and retirement funds have been depleted. creditors knocking at the door. ten y.o. car cannot be driven to interviews because of mechanical problems. so unless I can bum a ride or busfare from someone I am walking to interviews. I have been in the workforce for over 35 years and at my wit's end.
    I am experienced in management(25+ yrs), computer applications(10+ yrs), and many other skills that would be easily transferred to other occupations.
    I do not expect handouts and am ashamed of having to accept help from others. That being said, after 35 yrs(1820 weeks) in the workforce, there has to be assistance from somewhere.
    Best of luck to all in their career searches
    George in WI

  11. I was please to see that the article acknowledges that real unemployment is over 20% in many areas. While Unemployment is a safety net most of us contribute to, the underlying reason that many corporations sitting on large amounts of cash (according to the latest figures) are not hiring is because they don't have any incentive to begin rehiring. Further, the fastest growing segment of the job market is government jobs, which require thousands of private sector jobs to support each one.

    While I'm aware that there is at least one Federal program that rewards companies for hiring the long term unemployed, I am only aware of one major corporation (AT&T) actually incorporating it into their application processes. There is also a growing and troubling trend amongst hiring companies to screen-out any candidates that have been out of work for six months or more. Musical Chairs whereby new jobs are filled by those already employed does not improve the unemployment situation.

    It seems that the one thing governments can do at the State and Federal level is to add incentives for companies that hire those unemployed, and to increase the incentives based solely on how long the new hire has been unemployed.

  12. I know several of those long-term unemployed people. Every one of them that I know would gladly take any job at all.

    You do realize that if you are on unemployment and take a job that pays less than unemployment, you still get partial benefits so that you are better off working than not, right? I know of one acquaintance of a friend who bragged about turning down a job "so I can slack off like the welfare cheaters" and was shocked to learn that after it was too late.

    Very, very few people are not taking jobs because they can collect unemployment. Unemployment pays a fraction of the old income, and most people have ongoing bills based on that old income. Very few people can actually survive on unemployment insurance, it only slows the rate at which people use up their savings and other assets.

    And unemployment insurance means that those of us who aren't unemployed still have customers. Give the banks a pile of money and they sit on it. Give the unemployed some money and they spend it - preventing others from becoming unemployed.

  13. Mike,That is a great point that I do not think most people know. That is the sad argument for people who say most of those unemployed are slackers. Which of course is absurd.

  14. Mike is right. Most of the unemployed, including myself, have been ready to go back to work from the day they were let go. It's tough going from a job that pays $80,000 a year (an IT job, then unemployment in 2008). I still have the knowledge, but I haven't found a company that can hire. If someone had a job available at even $20-30000/year I'd be there.

  15. little neighbor boyFebruary 2, 2011 at 7:33 AM

    Another reason I can't just take "any job" as some uninformed employed people, spouses or retired folks suggest is because one reason I am not being offered a job after 60 interviews is because (I am told) that I am over qualified and a flight risk. They actually say that when things get better I will leave for more money or something better, based on my resume. Even if I promise to stay and have a work history of being at the same employer for DECADES they look for someone younger without the record of success I've had.

    Some hiring managers appear afraid because I am better qualifications and have more skills / success than they have, and they'd rather protect their job than upgrade the company talent and make the overall economy more efficient. Even dumbing down my resume and appearing as humble as I can for those situations hasn't worked yet.

    I also go for other jobs and interviews where my skills and experience are not the perfect fit that many hiring companies EXPECT to get in this distressed labor market).

    I would gladly take a lower level (or any) job as the uninformed suggest if I were given the chance.

  16. Little Neighbor Boy: Being a overqualified is a constant issue. I suggest you might want to read some of our articles on this topic. You can use our search engine on top of page or go to this tool http://internsover40.blogspot.com/2009/10/8-interview-questions-answers-for-older_31.html

    I hope it works out for you. Bobby

  17. I believe the government should offer companies a large tax break for hiring people who have been unemployed for an extended period of time. Example, if you're a 99-weeker, then 100% of your 1st year annual salary will be tax deductable for the corporation that hires you. If the person has been unemployed for 1 year, then 75% of his 1st year salary is tax deductable. This would give companies an incentive to hire people who are in need.

  18. Jim B, This is very interesting proposal. Anything that will get employers hiring again would be great.

  19. I am so not sure where this whole idea of individuals who are currently enduring a extended period of unemployment in their lives at this time somehow "wished" this situation upon themselves. Interestingly enough, most individuals that I know of that have been unemployed for some time very likely were the same individuals pulled into the manager's office (or in my case, contacted on the phone) and told that, due to the current deplorable state of the economy, the company can no longer afford to pay them. It's not that the boss doesn't care about the welfare of the family, the fullness of the refridgerator, or the balance due on the homes' mortgage...there was simply no money left. Personally, I fought the prospect of collecting UI, for Chrissakes, I had been on an official payroll since I was 13 years old....I never imagined, nor relished for that matter, undergoing any time period in my life unemployed...the key to my survival should never rests in some unknown entity's hand...put me back to work! Plain and simple!!

  20. I' am writing from India, It is sad and disturbing to read about the situation mentioned in this blog and my best wishes to all concerned.

    In India - a welfare state, we have no unemployement benefit, no systematic management of jobs and employment and except family and friends (maybe) no help from government in getting up when you are down.

    I' am in a very tight situation myself and trying gather courage and resolution to avoid an storm which can affect me, my family and my baby child.

    Thanks for listening.


  21. I've been looking for a job since spring of 2009. (Hurrah for those of you who got two weeks' notice; I had more like two minutes when my company restructured.)

    Yes, I'd been working in an ailing industry. But I didn't have my head in the sand; I'd moved to a job that would give me qualifications to move to another industry ... which I was just about ready to do when the economy went away. If the crash hadn't happened in 2008, I'd have been in a different job in a different industry by 2009.

    I've been looking, and looking, and looking. I'm even looking outside my area, though the only way I'd be able to get money to move is by wiping out my retirement account.

    I've landed a couple of small freelance jobs, some pro-bono work for nonprofits, and a temporary job last year with the Census. Other than that, nada.

    A lot of the jobs for which I've applied haven't been filled by anybody, but just eliminated.

    At this point, I'd take just about any job I'm physically capable of performing.

    Of course, by this point, it's tough to maintain the enthusiasm one needs to job-hunt effectively. That doesn't mean I'm not looking -- I'm applying every week for jobs nationwide, and some in Canada -- it just means I'm not doing as good a job of presenting myself as I might if I were less discouraged.

  22. Interesting read... there's nothing like the approach of nothingness to
    bring out the ironies of our times.
    Are we the victims of our own
    beliefs, superstitions, and realities
    of our own making? Are we getting our
    collective noses rubbed in the truth, as we once knew it?

  23. First the government has allowed these corporations to sell out our jobs overseas and put millions of us on the streets and have not sanctioned or penalized them or charged them taxes for doing so.

    Second the government has not taken a firm stance on age discrimination and it is a joke. They are discriminating right and left all over this country against the over 50 crowd. After all this is a country where the elderly are disposable and those of us over 50 are just too old for them.

    So NO I do not feel guilty in anyway for getting unemployment and I think as long as the government is going to allow our jobs to be shipped to India, et al. then they should pay unemployment and then some to the victims left behind. It is time to tax the companies that sold our jobs and pay restitution to the victims.

  24. I am currently Unemployed, and also been there too much since 2006. It's not that I am some sort of Deadbeat, it's that I can't find a fulfilling Job that pays enough to take care of the Bills. Because of the huge number of applicants to any open position, the Employer can take their Time finding just the right candidate.

    Most of the current members of Congress, are under the impression that Tax Cuts to the Rich, will lead to Job creation; I certainly haven't seen that scenario.

    I too don't feel guilty for getting Unemployment for all of us who are left behind, until I get a good-enough Job that I enjoy doing, and pays well.

  25. You earned it and should get it. Just keep treating your job search like a full time job. Your time will come. But if you have been looking for a long term it may be time to evaluate either your current skills or where you have been looking. Sometimes a radical change is needed. Even older worker can start new careers. Really. check out Dr Harkness video http://internsover40.blogspot.com/2009/06/dr-helen-harkness-on-recareering-at.html#

  26. There are many Bank Teller openings. Check Credit Unions, Banks, etc.

    No experience needed

  27. 1 of the biggest issues facing the long term unemployed and which has been mentioned here is the dispicable act by HR and hiring managers of black listing those not currently employed or with a long gap thru no fault of their own. This bias and ignorance should be at the top of our politicians action items to stop and pull us out of this decline. Those that act like this would change their actions I hope by being unemployed for themselves to see it can happen to anybody at anytime and the talent pool is wonderful and not tainted as they ignorantly think. Also so many people are ignored and kicked to the side during interviews when in 30 seconds someone decides they are over qualified. In many ways we do not have an unemployment problem; we have HR and hiring managers dismissing wonderfully talented people high and dry and jobs unfilled.

  28. south carolina sales/repDecember 28, 2011 at 7:39 AM

    We need to come up with ideas of how to put people back to work. We need to leave the unemployed worker along. And their little bit of pay they are getting. In most cases it is not there fault they are unemployed. Go down to the unemployment office and see for your self, it is shocking who is unemplyed, people just like you and We worked all our lives 50-60 hrs a week. Again we need to create new places for people to work good jobs with good benifit. We put a man on moon. I know the american people can come up with a plan to fix and emprove the unemplyeement problem we just have to do it.


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