Friday, January 24, 2014

Where did all the 99ers go?

Since 2008, those who lived in high unemployed States and were laid off from their job could receive up to 99 weeks of federal unemployment benefits if they qualified; and so, were called the 99ers.

By the end of 2010 there were an estimated 7 million unemployed Americans receiving federal extended benefits. At one time on another (since July of 2008 until December 2013) there were 23.9 million Americans who received these benefits. As of the New Year, now nobody does.

Recently the Atlanta Fed said that from the fourth quarter of 2007 to the fourth quarter of 2013, the U.S. saw an increase of 12.6 million individuals not in the labor force (not counted as either employed or unemployed).

By age, according to the Atlanta Fed, the approximate number of those who left the labor force since the Great Recession began:

  • 16 to 24 — 2.3 million (mostly in school)
  • 25 to 50 — 1.8 million (mostly taking care of their family or house*)
  • 51 to 60 — 1.6 million (mostly disabled) <-- I am here.
  • 61 and over — 6.8 million (mostly retired)

* I kid you not, that's what the Fed said. A bunch of middle-aged Americans who lost their jobs are just sitting back and taking care of their house or family—without any income at all. (See this new article at the National Journal for lots of stats and access to charts.)

I can not wrap my head around the Atlanta Fed's number of only 12.6 million leaving the labor force since fourth quarter of 2007 because:

*A lot of people would have had to be laid off more than once, been unemployed at least 6 months, been rehired again, and then laid off again to be unemployed another 6 months to receive federal extended benefits just doesn't add up. There has to be many more than 12.6 million that the Atlanta Fed cited, or there would have to be another 15.4 million "non-starters" right out of high school that were never in the labor force in the first place (to be able to "drop out" of the labor force).

And the first Baby Boomer (who born in 1946) didn't retire until 2008, when she turned 62 (she would have been eligible in 2011 to retire at the age of 65).

Here's the spiffy color-coded chart from the Atlanta Fed:

Not in Labor Force

My guess is 48 million Americans unemployed, but who would like a full-time job. I think the Fed is seriously low-balling, saying only 12.6 million are not counted in the U-6 unemployment rate.

Also, as an aside: According to a new national study:

  • Nearly a third of people who've been unemployed for at least a year say they haven't had a single job interview during that time
  • 10% lost their house or apartment due to their inability to pay the rent or mortgage.
  • Of those 55 and older, 92 percent said their age worked against them in the current job market.

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