The 99ers are a cross section of all walks of life of American society: race, color, creed, national origin - old and young - male and female - Democrat and Republican - of all educational and skill levels.
A 99er is generally referred to as a long-term unemployed person who has exhausted all 99 weeks of unemployment benefits. But in reality, most people who collect unemployment benefits don't qualify for the maximum allowable of 99 weeks. Only 18 States had this maximum limit, but even then, not everyone qualified. (National average was 63 weeks).
Those who have exhausted all federal unemployment benefits (from 26 to 99 weeks) are all called "exhaustees", but almost every one them in known as a "99er" (They are one of the same: No job and no income). There are approximately 7 million "exhaustees" to date and of those, about 2 million might be actual "99ers".
The 13-month extension last year was only for the continued funding of those federal benefits, no actual weeks were added - - - the MAXIMUM is still 99 weeks total for all UI (unemployment insurance) benefits. "Unemployment benefits" weren't extended, just the "funding" for those who still might qualify.
Supposedly the long-term unemployed (99ers and UI exhaustees) are counted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the U-6 unemployment rate (as "discouraged workers"), but not in the U-3 rate, as is always reported by the BLS and the media - which is currently 9.1%, and has been close to this for the last two years.
The "UI exhaustees" could number close to 10 million by January 2012. As of May last year there were about 5 million people on State UI and another 5 million on federal UI.
As the same amount of people remain unemployed, the actual U-6 rate has been steadily increasing because the BLS claims that after one year these people stopped looking for work - - - but how could they arrive at that conclusion unless they had access to everyone's job applications?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics' CPS (household survey) is an antiquated and extremely flawed measure of the unemployment rate. No one we know has as YET contacted, or know of, or know somebody who might know someone else, who has ever taken this survey. Do you? We never hear from any of them in all the blogs and Facebook groups. Who are these mystery unemployed people? We've been in the touch with the BLS via email several times, but they won't give me a straight answer.
It's estimated (based on blogs, social-networking groups, and news articles for the past 2 years) that the majority of the long-term unemployed are usually about 45 to 62 years old (when they can qualify for early Social Security). These are people who once had long credit and work histories, held mortgages, and raised families. Many have served in the military and went to college. But employers won't hire them because of age, and because they ARE unemployed - - - and most aren't yet 62 to qualify for early Social Security benefits or their pensions either. Basically, they are between a rock and a very hard place.
But despite what the media reports, these people have not been idling sitting around the pool drinking Margaritas for the past two years. They have spent their life savings, 401ks, and/or pensions (if available) trying to maintain their status quo while attempting to find work - - - and while trying to care for their families. Many have already lost their homes and cars. And many more, to escape homelessness, lost their life to suicide. (The media has a "code" not to report on this.)
Due to a lack of jobs, many 99ers and exhaustees were forced to "retire" early (at 62) to draw their Social Security benefits and are NOT included in the unemployment rate...but are now included in the poverty rate. They (and the 99ers and exhaustees) didn't "drop out" of the labor force as the government reports, they were mercilessly shoved out by corporate America.
Since we can't always rely on the support of our family and neighbors, we must depend on our government leaders to change, AND TO ENFORCE, all the discrimination laws. Technically these employers are violating the long-term jobless of their civil rights by using "bona fide occupational qualifications" to subvert existing labor laws.
The latest LIE is that the long-term unemployed lack the necessary job skills. As jobs continue going overseas, China will soon surpass America as the global middle-class...because congress allowed this to happen. CEOs say we don't have the necessary job skills, but you can train a monkey to work in a Chinese factory or assembly line. What special skills would we need to drive a forklift, pack a box, drive a delivery truck, or sweep the factory floor?
Nothing will change soon enough to help those who have already been without a job for over a year or more. According the BLS, they only have a 9% chance of every finding work again - those people may never recover, even if the economy ever does.
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A “99er” is someone out of work & has exhausted ALL benefits & has been jobless AT LEAST 6 months to 3 years. http://tinyurl.com/help99ers