'99ers' exhaust benefits, Thousands are banding together to ask for more extensions!

Discussion in 'Wall St. News' started by S2007S, May 2, 2010.

  1. S2007S



    '99ers' exhaust jobless benefits
    Thousands are banding together to agitate for another extension.

    April 30, 2010|Alana Semuels

    Karl Schafer says he has tried for hundreds of jobs since he was laid off from a truck factory more than two years ago. Still waiting to get hired, the 52-year-old Ohio man has suffered the indignity of applying for food stamps and asking his elderly mother for help.

    Weary of her own job search, former customer service representative Wagma Omar, 40, of Mission Viejo is thinking about applying for a dangerous civilian job in Afghanistan.

    And in California's wine country, Kay Stephens, 56, is frantically looking to cut her living expenses so her unemployment doesn't become a burden to her 30-year-old daughter.

    Schafer, Omar and Stephens are among the increasing number of unemployed Americans whose burdens just got heavier: They've exhausted their 99 weeks of jobless benefits and must now figure out how to get by on ever more meager resources.

    In California, state officials estimate there are nearly 100,000 people who are still looking for work but can no longer draw an unemployment check. Federal labor officials could not provide a number nationally, but private-sector experts say it could easily top 1 million.

    What is certain is that, as the jobless rate remains stubbornly high, more Americans will have to face the challenge of making ends meet without a monthly check.

    "People are going off a cliff and we're not really doing anything about it," said Andrew Stettner, deputy director of the National Employment Law Project. "That's not great public policy."

    Once unemployment benefits run out, people are eligible for general relief -- but that pays a maximum of $221 a month in Los Angeles County, compared with as much as nearly $2,000 a month for unemployment. Only workers with dependent children are eligible for welfare.

    Worried that they could lose their homes and get put out on the street, thousands of "99ers," as they call themselves, are banding together to agitate for another extension. On Friday they're kicking off a "Mayday SOS" campaign, faxing and e-mailing Congress their resumes, along with pleas for more benefits.

    "The have-nots are going to be in great multitudes, and they will uprise," said Donalee King, 51, of San Diego, who runs an Internet radio forum dedicated to the cause.

    A series of extensions passed by Congress in 2008 and 2009 prolonged the benefits for an unprecedented period: 99 weeks in states with high unemployment, such as California. There have never been benefits available for so long, said Loree Levy, spokeswoman for the state Employment Development Department.

    The last extension was approved in November 2009, giving the unemployed an extra 20 weeks of checks. But people eligible for those additional weeks are losing their benefits now, and a further extension is considered unlikely given the massive federal budget deficit.

    That's left the 99ers to fend for themselves. In interviews, people who have recently lost their benefits say they are pursuing a variety of strategies, including turning to family members for help, putting expenses on credit cards and applying for food stamps and other social services.

    In Chicago, 55-year-old Cyndi Safstrom said she went through her retirement savings and is renting out rooms in her house to earn money. In Fresno, Rebecca Morgado, 34, had to tell her daughter that prom was out of the question, because her unemployment checks ran out and she hasn't been able to find a job since being laid off as a food quality inspector.

    Among unemployed people in their 50s, a common worry is that they will never find steady work again, forcing them to scrape by until they are eligible for Social Security benefits. In March there were 3.5 million unemployed people age 50 and older, Labor Department statistics show. That's more than double the number in March 2008.

    Schafer, the laid-off factory worker, is ashamed to admit that when his benefits ran out he turned to his elderly mother for financial assistance, even though her only income is Social Security. He also applied for food stamps. He's luckier than most -- his wife is still employed, but the income from her job as a teacher's aide isn't enough to pay the bills, especially since they have college expenses for three children.

    Schafer never went to college himself and figures he's too old to go back to school. So he just keeps telling himself he's going to find work, although the signs so far in his rural town have not been good.

    "I'm a good worker, and it's extremely hard," Schafer said, the desperation creeping into his voice. "I was a $50,000-a-year worker, and now I'm reduced to zero."

    Some families are coping with unemployment by moving in together to cut costs. Omar lives free in her sister's Mission Viejo home, as do another unemployed sister and their mother.

    "It's one person putting food on the table for everybody," said Omar, who cashed her last unemployment check this month.

    Omar is worried that if her sister loses her job, all four will be out on the street. Since getting laid off from her job as a customer service rep in 2008, she has applied to dozens of jobs, including some at McDonald's, but still hasn't found work. Omar, who speaks Dari and Pashto, is now thinking about applying to become a translator for the U.S. Army in Afghanistan.

    "I'm at the point that I don't want to be on the street," she said. "I'm looking for anything that will pay me some money."

    Stephens says she has no family members to turn to -- her 86-year-old mother needs financial help herself, and her daughter is just squeaking by. She's looking into programs that will give her low-income discounts on her auto insurance and electric bills now that her benefits have expired.

    "I'm sick to my stomach with fear and anxiety," said Stephens, who used to make her living in marketing for the wine industry. She has worked only sporadically since 2006.

    Extending jobless benefits would be a relief to Stephens and others, but Congress is considered unlikely to do so, and some economists caution against it.

    People who know they'll keep receiving benefits "don't rush to find new employment," said Alan Reynolds, a senior fellow at the conservative Cato Institute. Data show that the long-term unemployed often find a job just as their benefits run out, he said.

    King, who runs the Internet radio forum known as Jobless Unite, says she has applied for 3,000 positions since she lost her job in the mortgage industry. She's angry at those who suggest that the unemployed just aren't trying hard enough to find work.

    "I see signs that say you don't work, you don't deserve to eat," King said during a recent radio program. "You know what? We're trying like hell to find jobs, but they're just not out there."
  2. The contract workers who worked on 1099 don't ever qualify for any benefits!
  3. Wait a minute.
    If you've EVER rec'd a 1099 form listing you as an Independent Contractor, you're not eligible for State or Fed Un. bennies, EVER?
  4. TGregg


    I've got a novel idea. Why don't they get a #@&(!ng job?! Huh? How about an extremely radical measure like that? In two years, one can retrain, one could pick up new skills and be employable.

    Two years isn't enough according to these losers. Think of how long that is, think of where you were two years ago, May 2008. Even if they only put in 50 hours a week looking for work, that's almost FIVE THOUSAND HOURS. If you can't find a job after five thousand hours of effort, you probably aren't going to find one after ten or twenty thousand hours.

    If two years isn't enough, how many is? 10 years? 20? Apparently there is no maximum. Time to register democrat and go on welfare.
  5. You don't get it - there are no jobs.

    Let me be a little more precise. There are millions of unemployed people - from the middle class - that cannot find a new job that will allow them to retain their middle class status. This is the dilemma. It is a giant intellectual and emotional leap to understand that the possibility to maintain one's middle class "membership" may be over.

    I don't blame them. That is a huge devastating reality to accept. In the US, we live by the "generational success" narrative. That is, educate yourself, work hard, play by the rules, and guarantee you will live better than your parents did.

    My opinion is that this paradigm died in the 1970s. It was credit growth - public and private - that helped us retain an illusory semblance of that paradigm. But all credit booms go bust eventually, and reality hits us all - including you and me.

    How will it affect you and me? Well, those unemployed and bankrupt people helped grow the economy once. Their debts and consumption were yours and my savings. Remove their debts and consumption, and you and I will have to work harder to be able to save and maybe even earn a living. It's all connected.

    So spare me your sanctimonious claptrap. You and I are next. Why do you think the government resorted to such historic and gargantuan stimulus measures? It wasn't just to save them - but to save you and me.

    I'll say it again - it's all interconnected and we will all feel the pain. The only difference is that some feel it sooner and more harsher than others.

  6. 2.5 Million unfilled job openings. Employers are looking for anyone qualified. No one has the skills. 99 weeks to retrain.
  7. bit


    That's horrible! Those poor corporations. We should do something. Here's a thought:

    Perhaps we should petition Congress to increase the number of H1B1 Visas so that qualified foreigners can fill these positions.
  8. TGregg


    I'm turning some decent coin now, but if I am out I'll build a plan and the first part will involve (re)training - get some mad skilz. 99 weeks off and I'll be back better than ever. But that's because I rely on myself not my ballot, not a bunch of corrupt, power mad hooligans in DC.
  9. Correct. This is a result of (1) labor competition from around the world (outsourcing/globalization), (2) labor pressure from below... illegal aliens flooding into the USA, and (3) technology/productivity.

    In other words, we have a huge "surplus of labor" both within the US and around the world... many of whom are competing for our once well paying, middle-class jobs.

    Most of the unemployeds who think of themselves as middle-class will not find an appropriate paying job for years... for many, NEVER again. We have yet to acknowledge and adjust to this fact.
  10. #10     May 2, 2010