Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Senate Gamesmanship Hurting Families

Those pesky unemployed folks - from WaPo:

Even before his unemployment checks ended, Dwight Michael Frazee's days were filled with the pursuit of any idea that could earn him a buck. But few are working out, and now his nights are filled with dread.

In the coming weeks, the Senate is expected to resume its debate about whether to extend the emergency jobless benefits that were passed in response to the steep increase in unemployment caused by the recession. But people like Frazee, who have suffered the longest in the downturn, will not be part of that conversation. They are among the 1.4 million workers who have been unemployed for at least 99 weeks, according to the Labor Department, reaching the limit for the insurance. Their numbers have grown sixfold in the past three years.

The 99ers are glaring examples of the nation's most serious bout of long-term joblessness since the Great Depression. Nearly 46 percent of the country's 14.6 million unemployed people have been out of work for more than six months, and forecasters project that the situation will not improve anytime soon. Currently, the Labor Department says there are nearly five unemployed people for every job opening.

As grim as the news is, at least the media is beginning to cover actual stories of folks who are amongst the long term unemployed.

The Grand Junction Sentinel takes a look at an unemployed single father:

Daniel Stark didn’t have the best Fourth of July weekend of his life.

That’s because the Clifton resident is worried about the immediate future for him and his 6-year-old son, Isaiah.

Stark has been unemployed for more than a year and is about to see his unemployment benefits run out. He’s angry not only because he can’t find a new job, but also because Congress hasn’t extended those benefits.

A bill to do that has stalled in the U.S. Senate several times.

“I’ve talked to everyone, my senators, my congressman,” he said. “They need to know that they’re impacting people who are really hurting. A lot of people are scared to tell them that, but I’m not. I just want this to be over so I can find work.”

Stark and his son have already spent time in a homeless shelter. That's the reality of the game that is being played out in the Senate.

Ezra Klein in the WaPo gives us a look at the numbers of long term unemployed since the 50's:

Klein asks:

Unemployment is likely to remain above 9 percent for the rest of this year, and for much of next. That means the ranks of the long-term unemployed will swell even further. As you can see in the graph atop this post, that's been the trend so far in this recession, and it's not likely to stop now. And we're just going to leave them without incomes and without job opportunities and without money to spend in their wrecked local economies -- thus making it harder for those economies to generate new jobs? That's the economic theory this country is going to embrace amid terrible joblessness?

Sadly, this does seem to be the economic theory that the US intends to embrace. That's why, in my humble, long-term unemployed opinion, the stories of what this is doing to people must be told. Loudly.

cross-posted at Main St/

1 comment:

DissedBelief said...

I will be reading Bruce Fine's new book "American Empire Before the Fall". The endless "wars" we insist on waging have drained our otherwise rich and diverse economic structure. My mind boggles imagining the magnificent possibilities of how that "war" money could be best spent right here on job creation and more importantly, job training. The graph you post Susan is a terror indicator and I don't see or hear any politician screaming that we are now in the red alert zone. I am completely disillusioned with our political system and Washington. It is broken, it is corrupt it is hopeless because our civil servants are not working to fix anything. The un-healthy "heath care" joke that was passed has turned me completely against going to the polls ever again as well as Afghanistan. What a terrible situation us citizens find ourselves in and whose to help? Where exactly are our tax dollars going? Great article again Susan.