Monday, December 9, 2013

Millions are Middle-Aged and Unemployed -- and Screwed

Does anybody remember this headline on November 6, 2009 in the New York Times 49 months ago: U.S. Unemployment Rate Hits 10.2%, Highest in 26 Years

That was when the Bureau of Labor Statistics was reporting 15.7 million Americans were unemployed.

This was before the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported 8.7 million job losses between the start of the recession in December of 2007 and when the recession "officially" ended.

In a recent statement, Secretary of Labor Thomas E Perez said, "The November employment report continues the 45-month trend of private-sector job growth with 8.1 million new jobs created over that time."

Now keep in mind, over those same last 45 months of job growth, we also had 12 million young people who graduated from high school. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that only 48.8 percent of the 3.2 million youth who graduated from high school last year were "in the labor force". In a 14-page report by Rutgers, they noted a whopping 44% of high school students were unemployed (So are we to assume that the other 6 million high school grads have either found jobs and/or are enrolled in college?)

The latest jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) says we now have 10.9 million unemployed --- but they report that of those, only 4.1 million have been jobless for 6 months or longer (and might have once been eligible for federal extended unemployment benefits before they expire at the end of this year).

What does all this tell you, when the government is now saying that the unemployment rate went down to 7% --- the lowest since Obama was first elected in November 2008?

As of two years ago, almost 18 million long-term unemployed Americans (at some point in time during the Great Recession) received federal extended unemployment benefits (meaning they were unemployed longer than 6 months). Currently there are 1.3 million claiming extended unemployment insurance benefits, and they will immediately expire by the end of this month.

By some estimates, if we counted all the long-term unemployed, and those who exhausted all their unemployment benefits (those who the government calls "discouraged workers") and who no longer are counted by the government, we have closer to 30 or 35 million people out of work --- twice as many as we had out of work in October 2009 --- and more than 3 times the number that the government currently claims --- because the long-term unemployed have been incrementally dropped from the monthly tally over the past 5 years (little by little, so no one would notice --- but WE did!)

And how are we going to put 20 to 30 million jobless Americans to work when jobs continued to be offshored to lower-wage countries? (Many jobs that were once outsourced to China are now being outsourced to even lower-wage countries, such as Vietnam and Cambodia.)

Especially when employers are refusing to hire the long-term unemployed (such as older workers, like the Baby Boomers) --- how are THEY expected to survive if they are too young for Social Security and can't qualify for other retirement plans or pension benefits?

According to the most recent research by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, by the time someone has been out of work for only six months, their chances for reemployment drops to 10%. --- so what are the odds for the 7 to 8 million 99ers, those who have been out of work for 2, 3, 4, and 5 years?

Especially if they are older workers over 50 years old? Are their chances for reemployment down to 0% -- and could that be why so many are taking their own lives, because suicides have spiked for the long-term and middle-aged unemployed.


  1. UPDATE: The War on Unemployment Benefits Continues

    Paul Krugman on unemployment benefits - "The Punishment Cure"

    ................ versus ..................

    "Incentives Not to Work" (Larry Summers v. Senate Democrats on jobless benefits)

    And my earlier post on this particular subject:

    "High School Drop-Out Debunks Economics Professor"

  2. As Dean Baker Reminds Us...

    "The United States is still down almost 9 million jobs from its trend path. We are losing close to $1 trillion a year in potential output, with cumulative losses to date approaching $5 trillion. Many older workers lost their jobs with little hope of ever finding another one, even though they are ill-prepared for retirement. Young people getting out of school are facing the worst job market since the Great Depression, while buried in student loan debt. These numbers correspond to millions of dreams ruined."

  3. The Democrats are on the cusp of agreeing with the Republicans to cut $400 million every year from food stamps for the next 10 years, even though every dollar in SNAP benefits generates about $1.70 in economic activity.

    Now there are 1.3 million people who are expected to soon lose federal unemployment benefits, and many will then be able to pass "mean-testing" for food stamps and Medicaid (because with UI benefits, they earned too much to qualify for these programs.)

    So the $4 billion in "savings" over the next 10 years, could be partially cancelled out with more people qualifying for other social programs --- such as SNAP, TANF etc.