Sunday, November 24, 2013

5 Years Later and Still, Where are the Jobs?

From the New York Times article Readers React: "When you lose your job, suddenly nothing feels secure."

That was one of the most common themes among the more than 700 comments on Annie Lowrey’s New York Times article, “Caught in a Revolving Door of Unemployment” last weekend. Few readers, many approaching retirement age, had not expressed any confidence at all in their own job security. The comments are full of sympathy for the unemployed, along with pleas for additional support.

Many readers cited age, and the higher salary requirements and insurance costs that often come with it, as a particular barrier in finding work. A common enemy in the comments was incompetent human resources departments.

One commenter wrote: “The last person any employer wants on their payroll is someone who might be collecting unemployment benefits for a significant period of time at some future date. When a person has been collecting unemployment for an extended period, it sends a message to potential employers that the person is not aggressive and hustling to resolve their personal situation."

Other ways readers said they were surviving included odd jobs, borrowing money and going back to school at 60. A few evangelized about entrepreneurship, but others warned it’s not always a cure-all.

A woman in New Jersey said her brother “was laid off early on in the Great Recession and thought his I.T. skills would be valued by employers. All employers saw was an older guy who had been out of work a while. When he died, he had an old car to his name and over $30,000 in debt that he had no way to pay. He had even tried to start a business, but with no marketing background, it failed miserably.”

According to one New York Times article, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 60,000 new hires in the tech industry (but it doesn't say what country the workers came from (such as those hired on H-1B visas).

As if being unemployed isn't bad enough, the stress of long-term joblessness may cause men to genetically age faster, a new large study suggests.

The consequences of unemployment can be far-reaching. And this recession has also seen a higher-than-usual increase in suicides. Many commenters reported that they had lost or feared losing loved ones.

"The rate of suicide in the United States rose sharply during the first few years since the start of the recession, a new analysis has found. In the report, researchers found that the rate between 2008 and 2010 increased four times faster than it did in the eight years before the recession. Every rise of 1 percent in unemployment was accompanied by an increase in the suicide rate of roughly 1 percent, the study found. The analysis found that the link between unemployment and suicide was about the same in all regions of the country."

Where I live, the officially reported "U-3" unemployment rate in the Las Vegas area remained at 9.4 percent, where there were an estimated 92,500 people jobless. While although construction jobs grew by 500, casinos and hotels (where I once worked) reported a decline of 600 jobs.

At one time, the maximum number of weeks for available unemployment benefits (in states with particularly high unemployment rates) was 99 weeks, counting the 26 weeks of regular state benefits. That number is now 73 weeks (or fewer), but is scheduled to expire at the end of the year. The maximum number of State benefit weeks available will then be 26 or fewer, even though long-term unemployment (27 weeks or longer) remains much worse than in any previous recession.

And if they were all counted there'd be many more than is currently reported. There are an estimated 19.93 million who are unemployed and want a job. Since the Great Recession started, long-term joblessness is up 213 percent, and economists are unclear about whether faster growth will improve the situation. [It has been said that] many of the long-term unemployed have rusty job skills that will make re-entering the workforce tough, even if more jobs become available. Others have ruined credit ratings, which employers increasingly rely on to screen new hires.

Meanwhile, many in the mainstream media continue to report good news on the jobs market: L.A. Times: "Jobless claims are low and show the economy is back on track creating new jobs after the federal government shutdown last month," said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi in New York. (But haven't we been hearing this upbeat news for 5 years already?

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