All Articles Tagged "unemployment benefits"
More jobs numbers…
Unemployment claims figures for the week ending December 22 fell to their lowest point since March 2008, with the number of first-time applicants decreasing to 12,000 from 350,000. But those numbers could have been impacted by the holiday, with the Labor Department unable to pull together all data from offices that were closed on Monday and Tuesday.
“The recent decline in unemployment benefit applications suggests companies are not yet slashing jobs because of concerns over the ‘fiscal cliff,’” the AP (via USA Today) reports. “Still, unemployment remains high and companies are reluctant to ramp up hiring.”
Last we checked, monthly unemployment numbers (a better barometer for the state of the economy) had reached a four-year low of 7.7 percent in November. The AP notes that there are other signs of improvement, like orders coming in for manufactured goods, and more construction jobs, signaling a stronger housing market.
But stymied holiday sales numbers indicate that consumers are still worried about whether their taxes are going to go up if we go over that aforementioned fiscal cliff.
Unemployment numbers for the black community have consistently been higher (in some cases, double) those of the nationwide average. Right before Christmas, BET founder Robert Johnson called on President Obama to do something about closing that gap.
“Johnson, the billionaire chairman of the RLJ Companies and founder of Black Entertainment Television, said the disparity could be narrowed if Obama encouraged U.S. corporations to voluntarily embrace a plan to interview at least two qualified minority candidates for every job at the vice president level or above,” reported The Washington Post. “He said companies should also interview two minority-owned firms for vendor supply and other contracts.” A similar rule is in effect for the National Football League, the article continues.
Merry Christmas? Unemployment Benefits Could Cease For 2 Million on December 1, Blacks Would Be Hard Hit
According to new reports, two million people could lose unemployment benefits right before Christmas unless Congress extends the benefits program. And African Americans, who have among the still have the highest unemployment rates, will most likely be the hardest hit. Even though unemployment figures for African Americans have improved, 13.4 percent of black workers, or 2.44 million people, remain out of work, according to the Huffington Post. And in New York, black women are the hardest hit.
According to the nonprofit Community Service Society of New York, older women and black workers remained unemployed longest. “Nearly 63 percent of women 55 to 65 were out of work for more than six months last year… Black New Yorkers remained unemployed for an average 47 weeks, more than any other ethnic group,” reports the Uptowner. A Department of Labor report found blacks are less likely to find jobs and tend to stay unemployed for longer periods of time.
If Congress doesn’t act by December 1, Americans who have been out of work longer than six months will no longer receive benefits. Six months is the limit for most state-funded unemployment insurance. In April, another one million people might have their checks curtailed if the program is not renewed.
“We cannot forget the human cliff looming for more than two million Americans scheduled to lose their economic lifeline during the upcoming holidays,” Rep. Sander M. Levin (Mich.), the ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, said in a statement.
Congress could have some hurdles in extending the benefits as conservative lawmakers “have raised concerns that continually extending jobless benefits is both an unmanageable burden on the federal budget and a disincentive for people to find work,” reports The Washington Post.
But a coalition of more than 35 groups led by the National Employment Law Project is launching an aggressive campaign to pressure Congress to extend the program.
(AJC) — The Atlanta region lost more jobs the last year than any other metro area, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday, further evidence that the post-recessionary slump here shows little sign of abating. Metro Atlanta shed 30,800 jobs since August 2010. Kansas City — 12,800 positions erased — was the closest competitor in job-losses. Nearly all of Atlanta’s peer metro areas added at least some jobs amid the slow economic recovery. The figures add to a growing sense that Atlanta has experienced a Lost Decade. The Great Recession and its aftermath have obliterated the mid-decade’s huge job and wealth gains that put Atlanta atop the New South economic pedestal. The Atlanta region, for example, notched 2,237,100 jobs last month — almost exactly the same amount as in early 2002.
(Wall Street Journal) — Instead of paper checks, Oregon officials pay weekly unemployment benefits by loading the money onto debit cards that come with several unusual fees. After she found a job last year, 48-year-old Jennifer Schmidt of Riddle, Ore., was charged an “inactivity fee” of $2 by U.S. Bancorp for not using her debit card once she stopped drawing unemployment. The $2 fee sank the balance on her card into the red, triggering an overdraft fee of $17. ”How is it possible that the bigwigs in government can’t get a better deal for us?” she says. More than 40 U.S. states use prepaid debit cards to funnel unemployment benefits, child-support payments and other funds to recipients. Getting rid of paper checks and postage is hard to resist for cash-strapped governments, which last year steered $53.2 billion in unemployment benefits and child-support payments to prepaid debit cards, up 33% from 2009, according to Mercator Advisory Group Inc., a research firm in Maynard, Mass. Such cards made up 32% of the overall prepaid debit-card market in 2010. Banks are barreling into the business, led by J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., the second-biggest U.S. bank in assets, which has contracts with 21 states. U.S. Bancorp, based in Minneapolis, has contracts with 16 U.S. states. The nation’s largest bank by assets, Bank of America Corp., has deals in five states and will start issuing debit cards for California’s unemployment benefits in July.
(Daily Finance) — The U.S. unemployment rate continues to hover around 9%, with nearly 14 million Americans out of work. Worse still, many of them are remaining unemployed for extended periods: According to April’s numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 5.8 million Americans have been out of work for more than 27 weeks. The Fed has estimated that the jobless ratemay not drop below 9% on an extended basis this year, and could still be as high 8% by the end of 2012. The dual problems of unemployment and chronic, long-term joblessness raise the question of how long the federal and state governments will continue to provide extended jobless benefits. Congress voted late in 2010 to extend federal unemployment paymentsso that the nearly two million Americans who were about to lose financial support would not. However, such Congressional reprieves, as well as any similar moves made at the state level, will only last as long as politicians are willing to risk voter ire over deficit spending. The age of government austerity has begun, and unemployed Americans will probably be among its most significant victims.
By B. Hutson
The economy may be in the midst of recovering from the Great Recession, but relief still has yet to come for the 13 millions of people who are still looking for work, especially for single mothers that are dealing with a struggle unlike their unemployed peers. Not only can they not find work, but they are also unable to find work that provides benefits, particularly when it comes to child-care.
The unemployment rate among single mothers has long surpassed those among married men and women. In 2010, the unemployment rate for single mothers was 14.6 percent, compared with 6.8 percent among married men and 6.3 percent among married mothers, reports Economix.
Though unemployment insurance has become an important source of assistance for single mothers, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research states that women have historically had less access to unemployment benefits compared to men. Unfortunately, states have established regulations that have consequently worked against single mothers. For example, most states restrict eligibility for unemployment against those who experience involuntary job loss. Also excluded are those who quit for reasons such as a loss of child-care assistance or the need to tend to a sick family member.
With conditions such as these, how is it expected for single mothers to be the nurturer and the breadwinner of their family?
Public programs haven’t been much help either. According to Economix, enrollment in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, or TANF, declined from 80 percent in 1995 to 40 percent by 2005. Annual TANF benefits are below the poverty line and typically amount to less than $5 per person per day. Access to food stamps has improved but inflation has eroded the combined value of TANF and food-stamp benefits by about 23 percent between 1996 and 2010.
Then there is the dreaded time limit that single mothers face for receiving benefits—federal rules impose a lifetime limit of 60 months for TANF and 99 weeks for unemployment insurance.
Not to take away from the fact that jobs are being created, but a real concerted effort needs to occur in job creation and to provide more assistance for families who are struggling to make ends meet while their benefits slowly expire.
By Charlotte Young
As unemployment still lingers near nine percent and states continue to be in debt to the federal government, more than two-thirds of the states are planning to raise unemployment taxes on businesses to restore jobless benefit funds.
The New York Times reports that thirty-two states owe the federal government more than $48.3 billion, which was borrowed to assist paying jobless benefits. This amount must be paid back with interest. A survey by the National Association of State Workforce Agencies reveals that seven states are even contemplating borrowing from the private sector to repay loans.
States have been keeping unemployment taxes on businesses low, even cutting the tax rate by 64 percent since 1938 when the unemployment program began collecting taxes from employers. Now it appears that states are demanding too much from businesses; besides states raising taxes on employers, businesses are also expected to create jobs and cut benefits.
Michigan has already taken the lead with this idea. The state is offering 20 weeks of jobless benefits compared to the 26 weeks that a majority of states pay.
Senior staff lawyer for the National Employment Law Project, George Wentworth, reveals that reducing benefits will not “restore solvency” in most states.
“It really erodes the stimulus aspect of the program,” he said. “And it undermines its purpose, which is to provide workers with a partial wage replacement that they can manage on until they find another job.”
(USA Today) – South Carolina state Sen. Harvey Peeler was at a Chamber of Commerce meeting in January when the human resources director of one of the area’s major employers, textile manufacturer Hamrick Mills, told him the company was having trouble hiring some people from the unemployment rolls. “They said they had potential employees that would come and apply and couldn’t pass the drug test,” Peeler says. Peeler, a Republican who says he heard similar stories from other employers, introduced a bill Feb. 9 that would suspend unemployment checks to people who fail a drug test they must take to get a job.
(AJC) — Georgia’s fund that sends checks to the unemployed is nearly empty, and legislation in the General Assembly won’t refill it. And the state may take money from Medicaid and job-creating budgets just to cover the fund’s $24 million interest payment due in October. State officials said this week that the legislation, pushed heavily by the tax-averse business community, won’t return the unemployment insurance trust fund to solvency. So far, the state has borrowed $672 million from Washington to pay tens of thousands of unemployed Georgians. And the tally rises daily. More than 191,000 Georgians — one of every three jobless people in the state — received unemployment insurance payments last week, according to the Labor Department. The average payment is $269 per week. Labor officials say all jobless recipients will be paid, regardless of the state’s depleted trust fund. The recession’s double-digit unemployment, combined with insufficient tax contributions from employers, depleted the trust fund. Georgia’s wounds, though, are self-inflicted after the state halted payments into the fund by most employers more than a decade ago.
(Atlanta Business Chronicle) — Metro Atlanta’s initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits went down 13.4 percent in January. Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said Wednesday 35,038 laid-off workers in metro Atlanta filed initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits in January, decline of 5,434 from January 2010. But the claims were up 11.9 percent from 31,319 in December 2010. Most of the increase in claims came in manufacturing and construction, the Georgia Department of Labor said.