Monday, November 11, 2013

No Job Openings? Tough, No Food Stamps Either!

The GOP prefers corporate welfare (such as oil and farm subsidies) to human welfare (such as food stamps and Medicaid).

NYTimes: During the great recession, the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program providing food stamps began to play a more significant role in the social safety net, largely because cash assistance rules became so much more stringent in 1996, imposing strict time limits and work requirements.

Work requirements can’t be enforced when people can’t find work. Recent econometric analysis suggests that at least two-thirds of the growth in food stamps between 2007 and 2011 was the direct result of changes in local unemployment rates. Much of the remaining growth reflected loosened restrictions aimed to help families cope with increased economic stress.

Now, that policy is being reversed. SNAP benefits have recently been cut, and congressional Republicans are trying hard to impose work requirements so strict that they would exclude applicants who are doing their best to find a job, along with the imaginary multitudes of slacker surfer dudes.

The GOP would end SNAP benefits (food stamps) after three months (and keep benefits shut off for nearly three years) for 18- to 50-year-old able-bodied individuals in high-unemployment areas who aren’t raising minor children and aren’t employed or participating in a work or training program for at least 20 hours a week.

NYTimes: The working-age population has continued to grow, meaning that if the economy were healthy there should be more jobs today than there were before the recession...There are now 11.3 million people looking for work who cannot find it. The tally of those who are underemployed — that is, adding in those workers who are part time but want to be employed full time, and workers who want to work but are not looking [discouraged workers] — brings the total up to 21.7 million.

But some estimates say as many as 35 million may be unemployed who want to work, regardless of whether they tell a census household surveyor that they're "not looking for work", because after a year or more, people give up looking for non-existent jobs.

We still have negative job growth --- 7.8 million jobs created vs 8.7 million jobs lost since the Great Recession --- and according to the NCES, the U.S. also had approximately 18 million high school graduates from 2008 to 2013 (minus about 1 million older workers who were forced into an early Social Security retirement with reduced benefits and another 1 million net recipients on disability from December 2008 to December 2012.

The Labor Department began calculating the U-7 rate in 1976, but discontinued using it in 1994 in favor of the current U-6 rate (that includes "discouraged workers"). During the 1982 recession the U-7 rate reached 15.3%, its highest level as of October 2009 when the officially reported unemployment rate had peaked at an adjusted 10% --- meaning, the U-7 rate at that time was the highest since the last year of the Great Depression in 1941. But PBS reports that now in 2013, the U-7 rate is even higher at 16.2%.

The number of Americans who are not counted in any measure of the unemployment rate (and who currently want a job) is 6,291,000 (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics and check "persons who currently want a job"). In actuality, there are more people unemployed today than there were in October 2009 --- they're just not being counted.

There are a lot more people out of work (that want a job) that the government and the media hasn't been reporting. But informed members of the GOP must know this, but still they want to cut food stamps for people that they know have very little chance of ever finding a job in this brutal job market.

And on top of that, the GOP also wants to cut benefits for the elderly and our Veterans by using chained-CPI --- and since we all end up being "elderly", the GOP wants to cut everyone's Social Security retirement pay --- rather than taxing the rich their fair share. (The Democrats could have changed the tax code in 2009-10, but they did nothing.)

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