Record Number of U.S. Jobless Seen Losing Benefits

Discussion in 'Economics' started by omcate, Jan 30, 2004.

  1. omcate


    Thu January 29, 2004 07:34 PM ET
    By Peter Szekely

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A record number of unemployed American workers face losing all their income in the first half of 2004 because they are using up their state jobless benefits and Congress has stopped extending them, a private study found on Thursday.

    The number of jobless workers exhausting their 26 weeks of benefits without qualifying for further aid will reach a record 2 million in the first six months of the year, including 375,000 in January, more than in any other month, a study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said.

    The liberal research group's report comes after the Republican-controlled Congress recessed last month without further extending an emergency program that gives jobless workers another 13 weeks of federal benefits after they use up their 26 weeks of state benefits.

    Republican congressional leaders argue that a further extension of the emergency program, which began in March 2002, is not necessary because the economy is improving and the unemployment rate has trended downward in recent months, dropping to 5.7 percent in December.

    But the author of the center's study, Isaac Shapiro, said Congress stopped the program prematurely.

    "Rather than waiting to end the program at a point where the labor market is relatively healthy, they have ended it at a time when long-term unemployment is still relatively pervasive," Shapiro said in conference call with reporters.

    The U.S. economy has lost 2.3 million jobs since President Bush took office in January 2001 and an eight-month recession began choking the economy in March of that year.

    The pace of the labor market's recovery -- 278,000 jobs were added to payrolls since the summer, including a scant 1,000 last month -- has been anemic compared with the economy's robust rebound and is likely to be targeted by Bush's Democratic challenger in the November election.

    "The (congressional) Republican leadership is opposing an unemployment extension because they believe they have solved America's economic problems," said Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. "But the jobs problem in America has not been solved."

    Clinton, a New York Democrat, said she was seeking more Republican support and will eventually force a vote on a bill she co-sponsored with Sen. Gordon Smith, an Oregon Republican, to revive the emergency 13 weeks of jobless benefits.

    "I'm hoping that as a result of this additional information perhaps we can get some additional Republican support," she said during the conference call arranged by the center.

    After extending the emergency jobless benefits in January and May 2003, Congress allowed the program to lapse on Dec. 20, 2003, meaning that workers who exhaust their 26 weeks of state unemployment insurance on or after Dec. 21 get no more aid.

    Not included in the center's estimate of 375,000 workers who are exhausting their state jobless benefits in January are some 200,000 workers who will have used up their additional 13 weeks of federal benefits in that month, bringing the January total of idle workers facing total income loss to 575,000.
  2. Mecro


    In all honesty, Congress has been very generous with their current unemployment insurance practices.

    Most of those ppl are barely looking for work or refuse to lower their standards. The job market is tough but not that tough. It's not 20% unemployment.
  3. EricP


    Amazing that they can predict how many will have their 'benefits' expire in the first six months of this year. Hopefully, the 'beneficiaries' of these 'benefits' will get the message and find a job, like the rest of us. If this happens, the predictions will be much higher than the actual result.

    The Welfare Reform bill had it's critics saying how unfair it would be to cut off benefits to the poor saps that have been on the welfare rolls for years and years on end. Now that it's been inactived and had time to see the results, all unbiased observers would say that the law was an unquestioned success.

    The best way to ensure continued unemployment is to actually continue PAYING people to stay unemployed. It's amazing how people are able to find jobs, any kind of job, once they are in greater need of money.

  4. Maybe they can pick lettuce for twelve hours per day with no benefits. I remind myself often that even a dish washer at Howard Johnson's can be proud of his work (first job); it's good for keeping oneself grounded and appreciative of having the ultimate "job". The safety net is offensive to any real American.
  5. fan27


    Most people I know who are unemployed or were unemployed don't seriously look for a job until their unemployment benefits run out. Can't say that I blame them.
  6. omcate



    To certain extent, that is true. Another problem may be that when they are ready to lower their standards, it is too late already. Any respectable employer will think twice before hiring someone who has been out of work for over one year.

    The unemployment rate depends on the number of people that are currently on unemployment benefits, not the actual number of job-hunters. I seldom pay much attention to it.

  7. adonos


    Well, you guys sure are a cold-hearted bunch. I, for one, am an unemployed hardware engineer whose benefits recently ran out. I've been looking for jobs in my original field and in the trading/financial services areas with no luck.

    The problems are really different in each industry. In hardware, the jobs that are availible are for people with a lot of specific experience, that I do not qualify for being a recent college grad without much experience. The new entry level jobs are being created in India for the most part.

    In trading/financial services, I dont have any experience in this area at all, so I am having to compete against people with more applicable experience and degrees.

    I know a lot of people in very similar situation. I think its a drastic over-simplification to say that the unemployed arent out there looking hard for work.

    You want me to lower my standards? How far? Should I go work at Walmart? The problem with lowering your standards a little bit are that its hard to get jobs you are overqualified for because the companies will think you will leave as soon as you get a better opportunity.

    People like me can afford to lower our standards, but there are a lot who cant. Families who were just getting by before, but now have to lower their standards will be in a lot of trouble too.
  10. gszabo


    Quote from Trader5287

    Man, a lot of the software and hardware jobs are being exported. It's tough to get a job in those areas, because they just don't exist anymore. There was time when you could get a job in week. That environment does not exist anymore. Spending 6 months looking for another job in those areas before giving up and down grading is nothing when you consider it took ~ $40K and four years (college degree) to get an engineering job in the first place. Your not going to take some 6 week re-training course find a new career at the level of financial reward and personal satisfaction as a career in engineering.

    Remember, without these engineers you would not be on this forum, you would not be trading unless you were in NYC because they created the technology that allows you to be so cold hearted on this forum today. Please remember to put the current job environment in technology in perspective before assuming someone is lazy and not looking. Four years ago, if I heard that someone was out of work for a year, I would agree with you, but not today. It's different out there.

    #10     Jan 30, 2004