Unemployment Checks: Keep ‘Em Coming

The U.S. government should stimulate the economy by extending unemployment benefits past the traditional six months. Pro or con?

Pro: The Jobless Need Help

In April, employers shed jobs for the fourth consecutive month, bringing total losses this year as of the end of April to 260,000. With only one job opening for every two jobless workers, the ranks of the officially unemployed grew by almost 800,000 over the past year. New jobless benefits claims have reached levels that surpass the surge in claims when Hurricane Katrina washed ashore. With this steadily eroding economy, there is an urgent need to extend temporary federal unemployment benefits to jobless workers running out of state benefits without finding work.

Indeed, the situation is worse on almost every count than when the last two recessions began. Long-term unemployment is greater, now more than 17% of all unemployed workers. Twice as many workers are long-term unemployed, now up to 1.3 million workers, and workers are running out of the limited 26 weeks of state unemployment benefits at far higher rates—now up to 36% of all workers who collect an unemployment check, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

If Congress does not extend jobless benefits, more than 3 million workers in the next year will use up their state assistance without any additional support.

With prices and unemployment rising and jobs and wages falling, workers feel the economy is already in recession. So do 7 of 10 economic forecasters recently surveyed by The Wall Street Journal. And many notable economists, including Martin Feldstein and Joseph Stiglitz warn of an especially severe downturn.

Extending unemployment benefits now makes good economic sense and is the right thing to do for jobless workers. The jobless spend their benefits quickly, and every dollar in benefits generates $2.15 in gross domestic product growth. Of special importance today, unemployment benefits reduce by roughly half the likelihood recipients will be forced to sell their homes, according to the Labor Dept. And unemployment benefits make it less likely that long-term jobless workers will fall into poverty.

Congress and the President should not wait until the recession deepens further to provide the support the economy and jobless workers need to navigate these troubling waters.

Con: Shooting Uncle Sam in the Foot

Extended unemployment benefits are targeted toward the long-term unemployed. The long-term unemployment rate, however, has been stable for the past two years and is below its peak following the 2001 recession, according to Labor Dept. statistics. Other Labor figures show the national unemployment rate in March was 5.1%, well below its long-term average of 5.5%. Weekly initial jobless claims have also been fairly stable since October, 2005, much lower than the levels immediately following the 2001 recession.

Current data suggest few unemployed workers stay unemployed for the 26 weeks necessary to begin collecting extended unemployment benefits. The average unemployment spell now lasts 16.2 weeks, according to the Labor Dept. Therefore, paying workers to stay unemployed longer will do little to jump-start the economy. Extending unemployment benefits in the current economic environment makes little sense.

Those in favor of extending benefits cite the multiplier effect they have on consumer spending and GDP growth. This reasoning is flawed. It fails to account for the fact that when the government has to borrow money to finance new unemployment benefits, the individuals it borrows from have less money to spend or invest elsewhere in the economy, which offsets the stimulus.

In fact, decades of economic research suggests that in the long term, unemployment insurance could lead to moral hazard issues. An increase in unemployment benefits could reduce labor supply and increase unemployment, therefore slowing down the economy. Workers with unemployment benefits have a reduced incentive to search for work, especially since benefits are set to pay about 50% of the wage earned by the worker in his or her most recent job. According to a Journal of Public Economics study, each additional week the government extends unemployment benefits prolongs the length of time the average worker stays unemployed by 0.16 to 0.20 weeks.

Hence extending the period beyond the 26 weeks already mandated would create undesirable incentives for individuals to delay returning to work. As noted by Harvard economist Martin Feldstein: “That would lower earnings and total spending.” This is hardly the stimulus the economy needs at this point.

Opinions and conclusions expressed in the BusinessWeek Debate Room do not necessarily reflect the views of BusinessWeek, BusinessWeek.com, or The McGraw-Hill Companies. Opinions and conclusions expressed in the BusinessWeek Debate Room do not necessarily reflect the views of BusinessWeek, BusinessWeek.com, or The McGraw-Hill Companies.

Reader Comments

V Collins

A large amount of unemployment is no fault of the unemployed. It is devastating when all your efforts are put toward finding reasonable employment, and hundreds are fighting over one job position or the pay is nothing but peanuts. When you have a family, let alone a large one, and your benefits run out, you are now having to go without, and many things are sacrificed. Please allow an extension for those who have exhausted or are about to exhaust their unemployment benefits. This will prevent devastation for those who are truly trying to succeed and make a difference.

L. Arden

"Workers with unemployment benefits have a reduced incentive to search for work..."

This is truly insulting. A handful of possible malingerers, and those of us in economically depressed areas where jobs are scare should suffer? You've obviously never had to make a go of it alone on half-pay or less, Ms. Mathur.

As a member of the "unwashed masses," I can assure you, we also have bills to pay and a standard of living we would like to maintain. Working hard is how we do that in this country. And most people capable of working steadily enough to get unemployment benefits are the kind of people who know that having a job is better in every possible way than being unemployed.

chris west

Whoa, whoa, whoa..."workers with unemployment benefits have a reduced incentive to search for work, especially since benefits are set to pay about 50% of the wage earned by the worker in his or her most recent job."

What color is the sky in the world you live in? Please tell me. The mere pittance that's paid to the unemployed comes nowhere near the salaries you need to keep one person afloat, let alone a family. Sure, if you are a single man working in the mailroom, but jeez, get into the real world. That small amount of money may not be much, but it will keep the wolves at bay at least a little bit while you look elsewhere. Trust me, I know, I've been there. I've been on the bad end of that stick when Bush didn't renew benefits when he first got into office. Oh yeah, it's a con. Right, Aparna, why don't you go stand in the "soup line," and then come back and tell us about that gravy train.

Marcia Boruff

I don't think that the Senators/Congressmen have any idea what it's like to try and find a job. They sit up on the hill and look down on all of who are unemployed, thinking we're not looking for a job. That couldn't be further from the truth. I have been looking for a job since the day I lost my job. I am an older worker, and the age discrimination is alive and well. No employer wants to hire someone they think will only give them six to ten years. Although an older worker is more likely to be an asset, the employers don't see our qualifications. I worked 30 years, and this is the first time I've had unemployment benefits. Mine have already run out, and I'm still looking for a job. I hope that the powers that be will take another look and extend the benefits to those of us who are willing to work but for whatever reason can't find a new job.

Rick S

If, as Ms. Mathur suggests, very few people will need to use the extended benefits, the cost to the Treasury should be minimal but the boost to the individuals or families who need the support is critical. If we are trying to shorten the recession, doesn't it make sense to get ahead of the unemployment curve rather than waiting for it to jump past some artificial average? What was good enough for Bear Sterns is good enough for working Americans.

alkonman

Chris--the only part of the employment picture that only grows is the government. Just make the recipient a part of the government, and then the employment numbers grow and the unemployment numbers drop and the problem is solved.

Susan L.

For an emergency it sure takes Congress a long time to act on this bill. I am one of those unemployed through no fault of my own and have been actively looking for employment since my layoff. In good times, it is not unusual for someone to take six months to find work. These are obviously not good times. Unemployment benefits need to be extended.

Don Jones

What the unemployment studies don't look hard enough at is the number of older workers who have exhausted their benefits and have given up looking for work. They eventually become a hidden statistic and don't show up in the unemployment percentages. I assure you that even though they don't show up in the numbers, their pain is very real.

random

"The jobless spend their benefits quickly, and every dollar in benefits generates $2.15 in gross domestic product growth."

I'm not sure I like the idea of milking the unemployed for a back door economic stimulus. The jobless spend their benefits quickly, because they have no other choice. Dangling small checks in front of the noses of the unemployed so we can watch a rounding error in a $13 trillion economy fluctuate a bit seems kind of cruel and does very little in the end for both the economy and the unemployed.

Helping the unemployed find jobs makes a much bigger economic impact, so I would much rather invest the time and money into creating more jobs.

"Of special importance today, unemployment benefits reduce by roughly half the likelihood recipients will be forced to sell their homes, according to the Labor Dept."

Then could it be possible to channel the money that could be used for extended unemployment benefits straight into a bail-out fund? If we want to keep more homeowners around and use public cash to do it, we might as well just designate the money there.

"And unemployment benefits make it less likely that long-term jobless workers will fall into poverty."

Not exactly. There are the working poor and the underemployed. Poverty depends on income, wealth, and inflation. Money with no accumulation and no adjustment for inflation would do nothing to combat poverty.

"An increase in unemployment benefits could reduce labor supply and increase unemployment, therefore slowing down the economy."

Certainly, because not having a steady job is great. Why on Earth would I want to have steady employment when a check for a small sum arrives from the government for a short while? Beats having a place that pays me a market-based salary every two weeks and give me benefits like health insurance.

"Workers with unemployment benefits have a reduced incentive to search for work, especially since benefits are set to pay about 50% of the wage earned by the worker in his or her most recent job."

And in today's economy having your income cut in half and then fall to nothing is lucrative? Mrs. Mathur, do you really think that people are living it up on unemployment benefits and when their income is slashed by 50%, they don't feel the need to look for another job? Today's American workers are stretched to the limit with credit cards, mortgages, and with their spouses also working most of the time, no way to get additional income in a time of need. Even a 10% decline in income hurts. A drop in half is excruciating. Economic theory is currently lagging reality by a decade or so.

"According to a Journal of Public Economics study, each additional week the government extends unemployment benefits prolongs the length of time the average worker stays unemployed by 0.16 to 0.20 weeks"

In other words, a day per work week. But that stat begs the question of why it seems to extend unemployment. Correlation does not prove causation, and as many job seekers know, it takes longer and longer to get a job today, especially a well-paying one. While you go through all the layers of management, all the interviews, all the forms, negotiations and until HR finally does the CIA-style background check on you, a hiring process could easily take up to six weeks. Could this explain why it seems to take longer to find a job while unemployment benefits keep coming in?

The stat seems to make little sense when held against the current economic and social situation.

rcarey

I have been working 26 years, and laid off. Yes, age discrimination is alive and well. All that experience I have means nothing. I'm desperately looking for job. How dare you think we are going to take it easy? Food prices high, jobs are very scarce, and the picture does not look pretty at all for the unemployed. Please put aside your insulting speculations and be more realistic. Yes, the pain is very real.

anon

I am truly disgusted with our political system these days. They can vote themselves pay raises, but we apparently aren't trying hard enough since we can't get a job during a recession. Try finding a job doing construction in this housing bubble, Bush. I have two weeks of benefits left and nothing to even apply to.

ltoledo

I gave up on looking for work. There is nothing for me. At five months into looking for work, I realized that there are no jobs. So I started a business with the small finances I've been able to hold onto. It will take more time for this business to take off. I had to plan it and prepare for it--literature, legal, etc. Now I am ready to begin, and I am about to run out of unemployment. I will lose my car and possibly my home if I can't collect anymore. This is the toughest I've ever seen my economic situation. I surely hope someone gets through to these guys on top. They seem to think we are all a bunch of freeloaders. Free loading on $300 a week? That is barely surviving.

Wes

Understand who the American Enterprise Institute represents. You can tell by the identification of the scholars and fellows affiliated with this Institute:

Lynn Cheney: Wife of VP Dick Cheney
Paul Wolfowitz: Deputy Secretary of Defense (2001-2005)
John Bolton: Undersecretary of State for Arms Control (2001-2005)
David Frum: President Bush economic speech writer
Lawrence B. Lindsey: Economic adviser to President Bush

Obviously, this organization will lean toward the far right. I do find it insulting that the author has an issue with the "borrowing of money for new unemployment benefits" while our government borrows money to finance the war in Iraq.

I also take issue with the "lack of incentive" comment. How degrading is that? The general characterization that the unemployed will lose the desire to work is insulting. The majority of the unemployed have a strong desire to work. In the eyes of a Republican, which is the greater economic burden to bear? Economic shortfall to directly assist American citizens with an extension of unemployment benefits or a shortfall to fund an extended war in Iraq. This is really sad.

fred

I served my country for 25 years in the USMC. We lived high, because we made money. Then my wife died. No insurance. The windfall tax will kill me. No life insurance on my wife. I got ill and lost my job to a younger man. Of course, I went to civil rights; it takes time. My unemployment benefits ran out three weeks ago. I flip-flop every other month paying bills. I can pay my house payment on time. I work side jobs to eat. This is the worst I have ever seen it. We need the benefits for another 26 weeks. My bills are more then I make. My daughter lost her job, and I will help her. I can't as a father let her fall at a young age. Grants--what are they? Not for those born in America, except for the American Indian or a big corp. I am glad the government will help a true-born American. Mr. President, we need help.

lt

I was going to vote Republican the next time around. How can I vote for a party that is turning a blind eye on their workers? I am one of the middle class that is holding this country up. We are falling. Can't they see this?

Charles Moore

Extend unemployment benefits for 26 more weeks. What was good enough for Bear Sterns is good enough for working Americans.

david john

Vote Republican? What I understand is that the February economic stimulus package that was to extend unemployment benefits lost by one vote; McCain never bothered to show up to vote, and both Democratic candidates did and voted for extending unemployment. And Bush said he would veto extending unemployment benefits. Such a compassionate leader we have. Has he ever known unemployment or struggling for money? For all those who are unemployed and counting on this, please remember who is on your side when you vote this November.

Srand

Even this debate is outsourced.

Google "Aparna Mathur"
2005 Resume Results:

PERSONAL INFORMATION
Nationality: Indian (F-1 Visa)

Jim

Here's a letter I wrote to my representatives:

I implore you to rigorously support the extension of unemployment benefits--and soon. I am a 54-year-old veteran and father of two. I have had a steady job history my entire life and never had trouble finding a job in the past. In September of 2006, my high tech job was outsourced. Falling back on my construction background, I was an assistant super on a residential development until talks of layoffs had me looking for another job. Those layoffs came to pass. I found another job for another construction company but was laid off in October of 2007 because of falling sales.

I have been unemployed since. Picking up sporadic part time work has helped to extend my unemployment some, but my benefits will run out in a couple of weeks. While unemployed, I have applied for nearly 100 jobs, resulting in two interviews. I have applied for a wide variety of jobs, most well below my previous earnings. In addition, I live in Lewis County, where the jobless rate is well above the state average.

The economic rebate check will help, but I don't get mine until July 4. If I don't find a job and if benefits aren't extended, we will most likely lose our very modest home. Seems to me that extending benefits would be preferable to supporting us on welfare and food stamps. Please take a look at the extension proposal, and pass it soon.

Kristi

I've worked steady for 17-plus years, and then I was laid off in November, 2007. I have been looking for a job with no luck. For once in my life, I'm in need of help from the government, with an extension on my unemployment benefits. I deserve it. I've paid my dues for years.

Alexandra

Yes! Yes! Yes! I lost my job, and after my unemployment pay runs out in a few weeks, I am done for. There are no jobs on the horizon.

Pat S.

I have worked my entire life and lost my job due to outsourcing to India. I live in Michigan, where the unemployment rate is more than 7%. I have been looking for a job for four months now with no results. I resent the jerks who think we are just sitting on our behinds and collecting unemployment out of choice. I would much rather be working. I would take any job to put food on the table--there are none out there. Our government can send money all over the world. It has no problem giving funds to anyone as long as that person is not a citizen of the U.S. They make us beg for our own money just to try and save our homes. God help us. What a country we are turning over to our children and grandchildren.

Debbie

I have been working since I was 16, and I am now 52. I have drawn unemployment one time in my entire life for six weeks. Now, after working all those years, 36 to be exact, the government has the nerve to tell me I can't have an extension from a fund that is already in existence that I have paid into for all those years. Ms. Mathur and President Bush, I don't know quite where your heads are at, but I do know where they are not. They are not in the logic that we do pay someone for working all those years, and now, due to economic hardship, they really need it. It is extremely obvious, that neither of you have ever wanted or needed anything in your life, like the bare necessities such as food.

Irene

My husband has worked for 22-plus years. He was laid off 9/2007. Unemployment ran out 2/2008. He has put in hundreds of applications, with only two callbacks. He is overqualified. We have been raising our three children, trying to live off of one income. Yes, we need this extension. My salary does not cover mortgage, food, and bills. We will end up being another foreclosure statistic.

f

It seems like some of the governors are starting to put some pressure on the Senate to extend the benefits:
http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalradar/2008/04/schwarzenegger.html

You've got to love this comment: "It looks like Schwarzenegger, unlike other Republicans leaders, has not given up his membership in the human race. What do these guys think unemployed workers would do? Enjoy a life of luxury on unemployment. It makes me think of DeGaulle's quote 'The more I know man the more I like my dog.'"

Nik

Please help and extend the unemployment insurance. I have been laid off since January, and it will be running out soon. My gas bill monthly is about as much as one week's worth of unemployment. There isn't any other way.

Doug

I have worked for 35 years and never had a problem finding a job until now. I was laid off in November as a foreman in construction. I expected to be called back to work this spring, but I was told the company has no work now. I contacted every contractor in two phone books and still couldn't find a job. I extended my search to other lines of work and still could find nothing. I even applied for minimum wage jobs but was told I was overqualified. I have been told I am too old for a $10 an hour job. My unemployment just ran out, and most of my savings were already gone from trying to survive on unemployment. Now I am not even counted as unemployed, because I am considered a "discouraged worker" by the way our government computes the unemployment rate with the "current population survey." If we don't get an extension soon, I will be living on the street with the other "discouraged workers." Homeless and not even counted as unemployed. What has happened to America?

Andrew

When the economy is this weak, there should definitely be an extension of benefits. The 26-week current system is insufficient. In today's economy, it could take two years to find suitable employment. In other countries, unemployment lasts two years, but not in the USA. It's 26 weeks and then you are on your own.

Bob

The problem is that there is a mix of both hard workers and lazy individuals. The system needs to be revised to allow those who are working hard at finding jobs and have proven themselves in the past to enjoy unemployment benefits longer. Those who are lazy shouldn't be stealing the benefits from those who deserve them.

nancy

I have worked for the last 43 years, a single mother who raised a child without government assistance. I was laid off in September, 2007, and really enjoyed being on unemployment, stressing over paying my bills, making a lot less a week, Oh and the Cobra payments. My benefits were exhausted two months ago, and I have looked for a job every day to no avail. Had a few interviews. Most companies are either outsourcing or have a freeze on hiring. Would rather be working. Another month, and I will be on the streets if help does not come soon.

Lee A.

I am not sure where this wonderful country is heading. I have a good job and it pays well, but it's still not enough. My pay has stayed the same, but everything around me has gone up (gas, food, utilities, etc.). I am not sure what has happened, but it needs to change. Corporations sending jobs overseas to save money isn't the answer. Cutting jobs to increase revenue isn't the answer. This is all true, because when people aren't working they can't buy anything and businesses won't receive money to increase their revenue. It's simple, and the more people who have a job, then the more it will help the corporations. It becomes a win-win situation. I look at the U.S. like I look at Rome. Once a powerhouse, but it didn't last. We need the right leadership to help our country. We need people to make better decisions with their time and money. Make better choices and don't blame someone else. Stop buying at companies that send jobs overseas. Take care.

lt

Our unemployment rates in my immediate area for Pee Dee County are:

Chesterfield: 7.3%
Darlington: 6.7%
Dillon: 8.7%
Florence: 5.9%
Marion: 11.6%
Marlboro: 10.1%
Williamsburg: 9.2%

Very discouraging.

Kim

I have read all of the comments, and my benefits will be exhausted by this time next month as well. My heart is truly heavy with the desperation of others, however. I wish that I could help every one of you with your financial burdens. We must pray to God like never before for those who are in charge of our government to make the right decision for the American people. Only God can help us now.

In the name of Jesus, I ask for this with additional prayers from everyone. Please believe praying changes things. "And it shall be well."

T

I am getting infuriated reading some of these posts. I, too, have lost a job through no fault of my own. I have been searching high and low, but no luck. It seems now that the economy is slower that companies are looking to fill jobs that never needed certification or a college degree--with only those who are certified. Gee, I've worked all my life and never asked for a handout or charity of any kind. I am a single dad as well.

I need to put food on the table and keep the lights on. I want a job, not a handout.

We need to extend the unemployment benefits now. I have no income and am not lazy. I can't count the number of times that I was told I am over qualified for the job. My bank account does not say that. I survive now on one meal a day plus whatever my daughter leaves when she is finished. I am at the end of my rope.

jonathan

Ms. Mathur is a sophist who strenuously bends her argument. The truth is people like me spend unemployment money on the mortgage. Without it, we'll have to sell the house--if we can sell the house. She makes it sound like I'd spend a weekend at the racetrack. "Paying workers to stay unemployed" is "a reduced incentive to search for work" and could "lead to moral hazard issues." The only moral hazard here is the selfishness and pretense of American Enterprise Instituters who make policy for America.

Dr. Gene Nelson

The people who are losing in our present economic scheme need to be compensated. I just attended a seminar by professor Phil Martin of UC Davis. He noted that the economic migrant's share of the increased economic activity that results from their migration amounts to 65% of the value they add. The remainder, 35%, goes to the owners of capital that drives the present economic scheme, which I consider to be a race to the bottom. There is no means to provide income to people who have been displaced from their careers. Having the owners of capital compensate those people who are displaced is both ethical and serves as negative feedback so U.S. income inequality is not further exacerbated. Please see my graph of increasing U.S. income inequality (since 1965, when U.S. immigration policy was liberalized), based on U.S. Census Bureau data at "Career Destruction Sites: What American colleges have become," spring 2005,
http://www.thesocialcontract.com/pdf/fifteen-three/xv-3-207.pdf.

Sarah

What a sad situation.

This is so sad. I am one of the over-50 crowd left out to dry in Michigan. I read all the comments of desperate people on these sites daily. I ran out of unemployment benefits months ago, and like so many others have, have sent hundreds of resumes and gone on interviews where at least 50 people showed up for the same job.

Those of us who are actively seeking employment daily, worked hard all our lives, have enjoyed living in Michigan, paid taxes and unemployment, and been good citizens are just left to fend for ourselves. Crime is up, people are stealing gas, etc.

Have you felt the tension in the grocery stores lately? Yesterday, I witnessed a young couple with two little children, fighting between themselves because they didn't know how they were going to feed their family on $2 per dinner. How sad.

President Bush is the one who won't vote yes on extending unemployment benefits, so we at least have a little more time to find jobs. Where is our government when we need them?

Thousands have already moved out of Michigan. Who will pay taxes when so many have gone to other states?

Donna Meredith

I, too, was very upset with the article stating we will lose our incentive to look for work if they do the extension of benefits. These people clearly do not know what we are going through. I have been unemployed since August of 2007, thank God my husband is still working to make ends meet, and all the savings we had to purchase a home someday are gone. My daughter, who is 14 years old, can no longer go bowling with her school every Wednesday, because I cannot afford to give her $10 every week, sheesh. That adds up to $40 a month that can go toward putting food on the table. Maybe I should send Mr.Bush and everyone else my resume so they can land a job for me since they think it is so easy to find one or think I'm not trying hard enough. Please extend the unemployment benefits so I may have the ability to put gas in my car and go to Kinko's and fax resumes--it all adds up very fast. Mr. Bush, I voted for you and have even lost a couple of friends defending you to them regarding the war and the money being spent on it. It is now time to balance it out and give back to the American people.

Robert

I lost my job November, 2007, because the manufacturing company I worked for moved our high-volume jobs to China. There was signs, but I was hoping it would pass me by. I have sent out 50 resumes to local companies that looked like good matches, had two interviews, and no job offers. My unemployment is down to the last check. If the company came to me and said, "No raise, and you need to pick up additional responsibilities," I would have been glad to do that, put in more hours, whatever they needed, but no, they cut loose about 15 people. With my years of experience, I thought someone would be glad to pick me up quickly, no luck. We need to stop allowing companies to move jobs out of the country, and create more jobs and help those of us who are trying to get back in the game, by extending our benefits. If we can show the effort, we need the help. I would love to take an offer; sitting home worrying is not a great way to live. Also companies need to look at seasoned employees as an asset and use their experience.

T

Hey Dr.,

How about translating your statement so that the blue collar workers and the average Americans can understand what you wrote.

Most of us have worked hard all of our lives, but some did not have the opportunity to get the education that you have attained.

Thanks.

JAM

The Federal Unemployment Tax accounts in the United States Treasury have a balance of $36 billion. That tax was collected to pay extended benefits but instead is being used by the Bush Administration and Congress to hide the federal deficit. Technically the funds have already been collected to pay extended unemployment benefits. Apparently tax breaks for the wealthy have a higher priority for the U.S. government than help for the unemployed.

Susan

Shame on BusinessWeek. The comments in this article are unfounded and unsubstantiated. The unemployment rate is skyrocketing, and employers do not seem to be hiring. To our elected officials: If you have no intention of extending unemployment benefits, then do something to help employers create jobs.

emmielou

I am one of those who has given up on finding a good-paying job with benefits. I am working part time with no benefits, and my spouse just got laid off. We've both worked full time since 1972, and age discrimination is absolutely rampant. We've seen billions given to the oil companies and every Tom, Dick, and Harry has been scamming the government with George Bush's blessing, but he won't extend unemployment benefits to people who need it to pay their bills in spite of idiotic government policies that result in American corporations locating their manufacturing facilities overseas and their headquarters in tax-free foreign countries. The average American is being turned into a peasant. Oil would be so high if the dollar wasn't so low. Furthermore, Clinton could have vetoed Nafta and Hillary did serve on Wal-Mart, which has been one of the biggest players in destroying our economy by taking advantage of the trade with China, which has also resulted in the destruction of manufacturing jobs in the USA. Our government is organized crime. Barak Obama is right--there are a lot of bitter people in America, and their emotions are absolutely justified.

Jim

It's always easy to cast stones down hill than to throw them up hill. I work daily helping folks on unemployment; it's a struggle. The jobs available in our area are very competitive, including the $7 an hour to the $30 an hour jobs. Yes, I do see a need for the dedicated workforce to have some additional assistance. Also I encourage some funding stream for ease of training to return to a equally or better paying job for the backbone of our nation. I am very proud of our nation and firmly believe we need to take care of home first and then we can help others. With wages decreasing and so many folks out of work, soon there won't be any tax base to pay the wages of elected officials. Please help the unemployed.

Carlos

Ms. Mathur's argument self-defeats. If workers would attempt to stay unemployed longer if benefits are extended, then why is the average unemployment term 16 weeks when another 10 weeks currently exist to be exploited? The same conniving characteristics you associate with the unemployed should kick in and take advantage of those extra free monies, would you not agree, Ms. Mathur?

Your argument also assumes the unemployed are in control of when they get a job. Another fallacy. Let's not forget that there is a person across that interview table or behind a desk reading a resume that makes the ultimate decision on hire/no-hire.

Finally, with housing foreclosure rates higher than in quite some time due to people taking/being given loans that were not truly affordable over the term of that loan, let's not make matters worse by increasing the odds of the unemployed losing their homes, too.

Let's push Congress to extend help to the unemployed.

unemployed in pa

Good points, Carlos.

If you see where she is from, the "American Enterprise Institute," it makes you wonder. Wikipedia has it listed as a conservative think tank. So it isn't surprising that she wants to ignore the facts that don't support her argument.

Not Dead Yet

So I left the East Coast after six years, because I got laid off, couldn't find gainful employment substantial enough to pay the bills, and my unemployment ran out. Moved back to the Midwest, stayed with a "friend" in a small town for a few weeks, sleeping on the floor. I had just found some temporary employment but hadn't started it yet, way underemployment, but I would have gratefully accepted it. The employment was for a month or two, and after a couple more weeks on the floor, I could have gotten a cheap motel for the duration, but he told me it was time to go. So I had to turn the job down, because there was no homeless shelter in that town. So I hit the city where I went to college, because I know they at least have some transitional resources and more jobs there. Hit the streets.

I slept at the homeless shelter last night for the first time. First time ever. It wasn't paradise, believe me, but I was happy to have a place to stay and some food. I've got about $35 to my name. Cell phone is "Temporarily Out of Service." At least some of the guys at the shelter had working phones. Not having a phone makes hard times even harder. Harder to get out of.

I should have moved back here while I was still getting unemployment, especially with the much lower cost of living, but I had faith that something was going to happen for me while I was still out East. I was wrong.

I'm going to look for a cheap bike at the thrift shops so I can get around. No money for the bus. Luckily, I lived here for 12 years before moving out East about six years ago, and know how things work. I know where I can lock up some belongings where they won't get messed with. And I'm in tune with some resources to find temporary employment here, like yard work and moving and stuff. Quick cash that I can save, get my phone turned back on, and hopefully get a place. I didn't have a chance on the streets back on the East Coast, but I still feel I do here.

I think I have a temporary job lined up for about 10 days, starting next Monday or Tuesday. I'm looking for other ones for after that. I sure wish they would extend the unemployment so I could get my phone back on and find a place; I could get back on track so much sooner. Summer sublets go pretty cheap around here, and I'm confident that I can find something to keep me going here much easier than back out East. In time, I think I can get something here related to my career field. It will be much easier if I had a permanent place, though.

And just to let you know, there is no way I'm voting Republican this year. Probably never again. I always voted Republican in the past, but I never did like politicians and viewed it as the lesser of the two evils. But not after the way I've seen the Republicans blow money on everything but our people that paid into the system and lost jobs through no fault of their own. Instead they're bailing out corporations, funding war, outsourcing and aiding other countries, etc. All to line their own pockets. Now I know where the true evil lies. Never again.

Signed,
Not Dead Yet

kim

I have an MBA and a work history that includes working two jobs most of the time. I have worked continuously since graduating with my BA in 1988--until I lost my job last September, I had never been without a job. I've always found work quickly--I am not a lazy person looking for government handouts. I am a hard-working person who feels like she is kicking a dead horse trying to find a job. At 42 years old, I'm not old, but I do wonder if that is a factor to employers. I know when I actually do get an interview I'm told that 100-plus resumes came in within a few days of the job being posted.

I have simplified my life and am doing the best I can to learn to live on less, so no matter what job I get I can provide for my daughters (who are 6 and 8) and me.

The extension would help me tremendously--ironically, the longer you are without a job the harder it is to get one. "What have you been doing the last six months?" I've been asked at interviews, as if there is either something wrong with me so that no one will hire me or that I'm just eating bonbons and watching TV.

I've been taking education classes at the local university in part to keep myself active and in part to increase my job potential. I've been taking them online with the idea that I wouldn't have to drop them when I got a job. The semester is over this week, and no job came--might as well have sat in on campus.

At any rate, I think it is impossible for those who have not been unemployed and feeling like there is no hope in sight to understand what it is like to be in this position. Thirteen weeks is truly not too much to ask--the idea that Congress is (in my point of view) trying to bribe the President with war funding (for an unnecessary war) that extends well into 2009 in order to placate him enough to possibly not veto a bill that has tacked onto it 13 weeks of help to Americans. When you see the amount of money that has gone to the war in Iraq and compare that to how little has gone to help Americans (not big business bail-outs), we should all be outraged. But I see no outrage, only Republicans looking down their noses at those of us asking for help--as if we aren't worth the time of day to them.

And perhaps we are not. They remain in office by helping people who can contribute to their campaigns, and those of use who are unemployed aren't very useful to them.

Liz

It is quite a rationalization to say that folks who remain on unemployment are not going to be looking for work. I am a middle-aged woman with two degrees and unemployed for the first time in my long career history.

Do you think this is a cake walk? An unemployment extension would help decent, hard-working Americans get a small boost, pay a few bills, and get more time to find a job in a tough economy. Is Bush really that heartless? We spend billions to bail out Bear Sterns' bad behavior, billions in a war, but no support for Americans. The stimulus check is not going to help folks, except to pay for rising gas prices and skyrocketing food costs. Please do not vote Republican this fall. Job shrinkage, outsourcing, and failing policies at home make no difference to them. What happened to the American dream? Bush, shame on you.
Liz

gigi

For the first time in my life, I am unemployed, since September, 2007. My resume is all over New York employers, and I still cannot get a job. Extending unemployment would help me, as a decent, over-age woman, to survive without collecting welfare. Millions of dollars were spent to bail out Bear Sterns' bad behavior and not support Americans. We urge Congress to extend the unemployment to allow me, a qualified person with some degrees, to survive as well as other fellow Americans. Please help; time is running out.

C

I have been out of work since June, 2007. I have had more than 20 interviews and sent hundreds of resumes. I have taken a course to improve my computer skills at night at a local county college and am currently taking accounting. My unemployment benefits ran out in early December, 2007. Many employers see my prior salary in the mid-$40,000 range and are hesitant to even talk with me, thinking I wouldn't work for less. I had two interviews for a job and explicitly told them the mid-$30,000s (their stated pay range) was fine with me. They told me I was overqualified and never called me back. It is not only the "time issue." It is also the fact that when you try to apply to lower-paying jobs, many employers know you're overqualified and figure when the economy picks up, you will leave for something better. I am looking at jobs I did years ago. I have a bachelors degree, and many employers are asking why I'm even applying to these types of jobs. They don't get it that many of us have reached the end of the road, and just need something, anything for some cash to pay bills.

Nonemployed

I have worked since my freshman year in high school by getting a work permit, because I wanted to. I am now just under 50 and lost my job in September and benefits have run out.

I had worked my way up to being a vice-president, and my position was eliminated. Most potential employers see me as overqualified and don't want to see me take such a hit in salary so they won't hire me. (I would gladly work for $13 to $15 an hour.) But they just figure you won't stay when the market opens up and they are wasting their time with you.

I know my age doesn't help either. Friends and family keep asking me why someone like me with so much talent can't find work. I, too, thought I had a lot to offer any company who was interested in my experience. Not the case.

What I also see is positions that used to pay an average of $17 an hour are taking full advantage of the climate and offering the same position for $11 or $12 hourly.

I compete regularly with 350 other resumes for one position. Each day I search and never give up hope when I find a potential employer to send a resume. And each time I get called for an interview I look my best, smile, and get along great with the HR person. And each time I get a second interview, I get more excited. Then the rejection letter comes. And I wake up and do it all over again.

There are not enough jobs to find during a recession. Period. We need this help. Please.

Jacqueline

I have worked since I was 18 years old. I have three children who I put through school.

I am divorced and did not want alimony. (Hindsight is great). My unemployment has run out and I have no job offers on the horizon. I pay $536 for Cobra, have a mortgage, etc. I have applied for many jobs. I am told I am overqualified--when I say that I'm not looking to be in management but want and need to work. I am told that the company is not interested, since they believe you'll be out looking for a better position. I believe in this economy, benefits should be extended.

The government needs to help the people who are unemployed through no fault of their own.

K

Reading all of these comments makes me feel fortunate to have the little I have, on unemployment, and be thankful my spouse is still working. I remember when I was laid off, this January, my boss told me I shouldn't worry, that I'll make at least 80% of my salary on unemployment. (Ha.) I barely make 50% and wish I had the guts to go back and show him my unemployment check. I think most people have misunderstandings about unemployment benefits. I'm 49, have a law degree, and am hoping, begging these days, for a job as a legal secretary. Unemployment is 10.2% in Shasta County, here in far northern California. I have to doctor my resume to hide my education to even stand a chance at interviewing for most jobs here. I am thankful that so far, we have been able to keep our mortgage and utilities current. The tax-break cash will definitely go for this month's mortgage payment. It's the toughest, economically, I can remember since the 1980s. Best of luck to all who are struggling, especially those with children to support. At least it helps to know I'm not alone.

Nancy

My husband has been unemployed for almost one year now. It is so demoralizing for him that I can't even talk to him about. He is a hard-working honest person, but I feel age is against him. He has been in sales for 30 years, but it seems now, only young people can sell. He has sent out hundreds of resumes and gone on many interviews that appear to go well, but all end up dead ends. We need more help.

If the government can help out Bear Stearns, why can't unemployment benefits be extended?

We live in the Northeast, where the cost of living is very high. I don't know how much longer we can hold on--financially or emotionally.

Debbra

Last year at this time,I was feeling secure and even had a bright outlook on my and my family's future. But now I'm 50 and unemployed due to the downturn in the economy after working almost all my life in both construction and real estate. There have always been highs and lows but not like this, and I'm also very worried about the direction this country is heading, and from where I sit, it doesn't look promising. I have never fallen so far before so quickly. My unemployment is about to run out, and I have no job offers even though I have sent in my resume to the few dozen or so jobs in my field. None have even called me to interview. My husband is a small plumbing contractor, and he has had to let go two of his three workers, and it's been painfully slow for him and the one who's left. My $300 unemployment check only covers food for our family of four and the minimum payments on my credit cards and some gas for the minivan. We are one IRS payment away from total bankruptcy, because we owe the IRS back taxes that take one third of our current income monthly. We make sure we pay are house payment every month but are worried if we will be able to do that next month. We have raised our children but have taken on the responsibilities of two young grandchildren to raise. My husband is Republican (but he didn't vote for Bush) and I'm a Democrat, but we will both be voting Democrat in the fall election in hopes that some help (even too late) will follow. God bless America. May she pull through, and to hell with George Bush and his party.

Murray

It is interesting to note the opinions about extension of unemployment benefits as a handout. Let's understand that the people that have lost their jobs through no fault of their own have as much right to equal chance as those who gambled on their mortgages. The subprime mortgage collapse has had a ripple effect that reaches across many divides and affects many. While people may be losing their homes because of bad advise or a bad choice in mortgages and/or timing, those who have exhausted their benefits will or are losing their homes because they have exhausted their benefits, exhausted their savings, and may be exhausting the retirement looking for jobs that don't exist and jobs that cannot be bought at any price. Not only is the economy in the tank while politicians play with our future, we have an ineffective government and a President who will sit on his hand for the next for the remainder of his term to prove to you that he is in control. Unless and until everyone wakes up, nothing will change. Everyone threatens to remove everyone from office and start with a clean slate. Put your money where you mouth is and do something. If you are 50 or older, you've been here before. If you are 50 or younger, you should have learned something from history. Not only is this a repeat, but this is worse that the prior post-war economies.

The government works for you, not the other way around. Take the issues to heart and make yourself heard.

Doug

I've been out of work since November, 2007. I served as marketing manger for a company that sold RFID systems. I have had many interviews. However, companies are hiring people based on salary more the skills and experience.

My current job is looking for a job. I put in more than eight hours a day looking and networking.

I have a different approach. Instead of paying a CEO millions of dollars to run a company into the ground, a CEO's compensation should consist of a base salary plus performance bonus.

Companies can use some of the money spent on CEO salaries to hire more people. As a result, the more people working, the larger stimulus to the economy.

In addition, the government should put pressure on companies to hire more people. If they do, they can get a tax break for every person hired. Furthermore, the longer the person is employed, the higher the tax break.

If companies follow through with this idea, we won't have this discussion about extending unemployment benefits.

Joe

The government needs to help the people it governs. I have worked full time since age 16. I am now 34. I collected my first government check for anything in March as I was "laid off." But I was also told by previous a employer that I would not be called back as I was being overpaid. I took that job for 20K a year less than the previous job paid me for the same position. For the first time in my life I am optionless on the employment front. I am also a single father trying to support myself and two boys ages 3 and 4. What do they expect us to do? Move to another country? Would another country give the same type of benefits we give to immigrants here? Come on, people. Wake up.

Siercon

It makes me sad, angry, and a little discouraged reading everyone's situation. I also will be running out of benefits by the end of this month. I am going on 49 and have worked since I was 16. And yes, age discrimination has hurt my chances in finding employment. I raised my son by myself and had a good job at the same company for 16 years working in the high tech industry. I owned my own home in Orange County, Calif., but had to sell it when I was laid off in 2001. Since then I have worked for several other companies, but have been laid off three times. My last job laid me off after a month, because they found out that I had not graduated from high school even though I have completed some college. I contacted the Workforce Investment Act and also the unemployment office in hopes that I could either get assistance completing a GED and my last year of college. The WIA told me that I could take classes to complete my GED and update my computer skills, but they would not allow me to take a vocational course. The unemployment office told me that they would not extend my benefits so that I could get my GED, only to get vocational training. So at this point I don't have any training and am in fear that things are going to get harder before things pick up. About all I have left is my car and my dog, currently staying with my son and his family, but they are just barely getting by themselves. Things have never been this bad, even when I was a young mother raising my son on my own.

Balanced One

I'd rather see the government borrow to help the average American versus funding the senseless war. I have been unemployed for more than a year now, after working every day since I was 15. I would not lose incentive to find work if unemployment benefits were extended; it's a matter of survival. I went to a job interview last week, and transportation and parking costs incurred to attend the interview directly decreased my grocery budget by more than a day's worth--talk about a disincentive to find work!

K D

Simply put, the economy has slowed. What's more, males are experiencing what I can call a "gender recession" at this particular time. These events have put pressure on their spouses, or women, to become breadwinners for their families and manage the household on a single income. In agreement with economists, it is unclear how long it will take for the economy to recover, for businesses to rebound, and for the growing unemployed male population to find employment. As a result, it is difficult to predict how long women will be faced with these added pressures. Therefore, I am very much open to a policy discussion of potentially extending unemployment benefits. What is unclear, however, is the time limit of the extensions. Is six months enough? With that, key questions need to be posed: Will the economy rebound after six months? Will economic situations get better or worse for American families over the next 6, 12, 18, 24 months? Are the Presidential candidates devoting time and other resources toward understanding the complexity of this growing issue? At any rate, it is imperative that we develop and put in place contingency plans to weather the possibility of a long-term recession or depression. Certainly, hard-working American families who are struggling to maintain basic necessities of life and to make ends meet will agree that this issue is worthy of further exploration, healthy debate, and political action.

Steve

As a general contractor, I am well aware of how difficult the job market is right now. However, I do not believe that most of the men and women currently out of work would, if given the option, prefer unemployment over a good paying job with medical benefits.

If I had my way I would begin diverting some of the billions we currently spend to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan and instead rebuild America's crumbling schools and infrastructure. This does not mean pulling our troops out right away; it just mean having Iraq pay for their own infrastructure.

The bottom line is that we need to focus our tax dollars on the U.S. infrastructure first. If the Iraqis want the U.S. to rebuild their infrastructure, we can, but they should pay for it. If they can't pay for it now, they can borrow against future oil production.

In addition to rebuilding America's infrastructure, I would develop production and distribution capabilities for alternative fuel sources, improve our border security, and enhance our human intelligence capabilities through the Muslim world. This war cannot be won by fighting large scale engagements; it must be fought in the press, within the state departments of the U.S. and our allies, and by U.S. corporations doing what they do best, making foreign countries and their people's dependant on their products and services.

When the opportunity presents itself, we should target those who wish to harm us with covert operations that surgically strike validated targets of opportunity. The people we are at war with are not in any one country and are not being supported by any single government. They are both everywhere and nowhere, and to root them out we must embed human resources in their low-tech world and plan for those resources to stay for many years to come.

I guess what I'm suggesting is a New Deal of sorts the 21st century.

I don't think I'm alone in saying that I would rather see our tax dollars go toward good jobs, improved security, and fuel independence rather than short-term handouts.

We have spent several years now rebuilding Iraq at a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars and the loss of hundreds of American servicemen, and for what? Do any of us really feel safer? Is what we are doing the only way to fight this war? As a small business owner, family man, and loyal American, I just can't help but think that maybe there is another way.

philo

Wow, by what I'm reading it sounds like God and creation sure have ripped off so many humans with His indifference and recklessness. Maybe He could do something to prove He cares. Or maybe, we should ignore the Almighty completely and gather a portion of all we have to see how much money we can come up with. Then we can elect the very smartest (or at least the most arrogant) among us to use these funds to solve our problems, and if they don't succeed we can hate them and say what idiots they are even though we were the idiots who put our trust in them rather than in sincerely seeking the Almighty.

Maybe things are desperate in proportion to our unwillingness to "do business" (no pun intended) with the one who really is in charge.

PPD

Just read the news. The first stimulus package is going to have little effect. A second stimulus is needed; if extending unemployment in February would have happened, the effect would have been immediate by putting the money in the hands of the individuals who need it to survive and not to pay bills or bank the money.

Might Have Good News

The following info was found here
http://www.unemployedworkers.org/

Updated May 9, 2008
ALERT- Call Your Congressperson Today to Vote for Extended Benefits!

Good Friends –

Many of you have been patiently e-mailing asking when Congress will finally take action to extend jobless benefits. Well, next week (as soon as Wednesday, May 14th), it’s likely that the House of Representatives will vote. So, now is the time to call your Congressperson and spread the word to your family and friends to do the same.

As we reported earlier on www.UnemployedWorkers.org, a bill called the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Act (H.R. 5749) passed the key committee in the House of Representatives with strong support from both Democrats and Republicans. It would provide 13 weeks of federal extended benefits to workers in all states and another 13 weeks (or 26 weeks total) to workers in those states that have an unemployment rate above 6 percent.

In the past couple weeks, several leading newspapers, including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and others have issued editorials strongly supporting the measure. In addition, leading Republicans, including Governor Schwarzenegger in California, have recently called on Congress to extend benefits, as has the National Governors Association.

Like many bills that become law, the bill to extend jobless benefits will be part of a larger package of measures that have to move out of the Congress and go the President. So, this week the leadership of the House of Representatives decided to include the extension of jobless benefits as part of the bill to approve spending for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. It's important to emphasize that the funding is there in the federal unemployment insurance trust funds (over $38 billion) to pay for the modest $12.7 billion extension program.

The President is still on record opposing the extension of jobless benefits despite the continued loss of jobs reported last month by the Department of Labor. For the President to understand the importance of the bill, it is critically necessary that the extension of jobless benefits continues to build strong bi-partisan support. The more Republican support for the bill, the more likely it will pass Congress and get signed into law by the President.

So, please act now to get calls into your Congressperson (and from your family, friends and co-workers as well!) expressing this simple message: "Congressman [insert name], I urge you to vote for the extension of jobless benefits when it comes up for a vote on Thursday as part of the war spending bill. Thank you."

To find out who your Congressperson is and how to reach him or her in Washington, D.C., just click on the following link:
http://www.house.gov/house/MemberWWW_by_State.shtml.

Your continued support is critical to making an extension of jobless benefits a reality! Thank you.

Best wishes,
National Employment Law Project

Ron Fernando

So we have a writer with a Phd telling the working class of the USA how to behave--how ridiculous. She is an academic whose world view consists of charts, trends, and statistical analysis. Well, analyze this: There are millions of people, good, honest hardworking people who would sooner gag than accept benefits, but have no choice but to do so. So in your microeconomic world, it's perfectly okay for the federal government to bail out Bear Stearns, but not to help the working class?

Christine

I lost my job in October, 2007, but I thought I would find another job quickly since I had just received my accounting degree in December, 2006. How wrong I was.

I am the breadwinner, and the unemployment benefits were only enough to barely get by on. I charged up a lot on credit cards (gas for interviews, a resume service, an interview outfit, food, etc.).

I guess I should mention that I'm over 45 years old. Do you think that had anything to do with my inability to get a job? My employment history is not bad--I stayed at one company over 18 years. So I have education and experience and a good background but just couldn't get a job. Makes me wonder why I bothered to go back to school.

I didn't sit at home and do nothing while I was unemployed. I went to at least an interview a week and applied to many positions, went to every employment agency in the Chicago area, and did everything I could to find a job.

The whole situation was an eye opener, and I'm just disgusted.

Terri

"Workers with unemployment benefits have a reduced incentive to search for work, especially since benefits are set to pay about 50% of the wage earned by the worker in his or her most recent job."

This is greatly misleading in that unemployment benefits in every state are subject to a cap that may fall far short of the 50% mark for professional workers. The "con" point of view that workers will malinger based on this pittance is laughable.

ufo

This latest "let them eat cake" outsourced comment from Parna (Cheney obviously is far too busy to write his thoughts on this subject himself) is just another example of the con game that is U.S. politics. The Republican Party's role is to adopt policies that are so devastatingly against the interests of the majority of the U.S. population that the voters feel they have no option but to vote Democratic. The Democrats can then do whatever the lobbyists of the feudally organized multinational corporations tell them to, and if anyone complains, they say, "Well, at least we're not as bad as the Republicans."

Deb

My unemployment amounts to one fourth of my previous salary. One fourth. Yeah, that's a real incentive to sit on my butt and not look for work. Wise up.

Virg

I am reading this and saying, okay, who is counting all the unemployed people who have not received assistance since their assistance ran out a year or two ago? Yep, I know people who have been affected by the downturn of the economy for the last few years as companies are looking to make their product cheaper and we watch gas, electricity, and grocery bills increase.

Unemployment does not even provide a standard of living; it just gives people money to barely survive.

Tom

Yes, an extension should happen. It could help the foreclosure crisis, as well as get money into the economy fast. The Republicans seem lost in space on this issue.

Bob

I, too, have lost my job and am currently on unemployment, unlike the brain dead Republicans in this Administration. I would love to go back to work at full pay. What this country needs is for all the politicians to play by the same rules the poor and middle class have to. When these politicians are at the end of their terms, they also should have to claim benefits including Social Security, and I'm sure they would improve then.

Mark R

One does not have to "blame" the unemployed or consider them lazy to say that unemployment benefits affect their behavior. Again and again it has been empirically shown that:

1. Unemployment benefits prolong unemployment.
2. Jobs have never been a zero-sum game:
a. People going back to work tend to expand opportunity for others--it is not unusual for some workers to be laid off or not hired in the first place, because of a shortage of another type of worker, even during periods of unemployment.
b. At the very least, people back to work earn and spend more--leading to the employment of others.

No job in WA state

The number of unemployed people in America far surpasses the number who are currently drawing benefits. The number of jobs being abolished is at a record high. There are millions unemployed. The statistics from the past are irrelevant to current dilemmas in the job market. I ask what part of emergency doesn't some politicians in Washington understand? They're dragging their feet on this; it is unconscionable. How can they even sleep at night? It surely doesn't take them months and months to vote themselves a pay raise. I ask Congress and the Senators to look at the real numbers that cannot, and have not, found work. Emergency: A serious, unexpected situation or occurrence that demands immediate action. You know, like sirens and lights blaring?

DANILE

My unemployment benefits ran out, and I'm selling everything on eBay to keep afloat. If anyone gets any details on a possible new extension, please e-mail me, DANIELE1963@AOL.COM.

I hope this country gets back on its feet soon.

No Job In sight

Mark,
It is pretty obvious that you have not been hit by a lay off. The jobs are scarce. I am either labeled way over qualified or now under qualified because I do not have certifications that employers are asking for, when they are not necessary for the job. There are hundreds, even thousands, applying for the same job.

I am a (male) single parent as well and far from lazy. The jobs are nonexistent. I own my own home, have never been fired, and have a great worth ethic. Unemployment, yeah right, you try supporting yourself and a teen on it. Where did you get your facts? Get your head out of the sand.

To quote you:
1. Unemployment benefits prolong unemployment.
2. Jobs have never been a zero-sum game:
a. People going back to work tend to expand opportunity for others--it is not unusual for some workers to be laid off or not hired in the first place, because of a shortage of another type of worker, even during periods of unemployment.
b. At the very least, people back to work earn and spend more--leading to the employment of others.

Show me the facts, not some made up lies. I want to work.

Gracklesquawk

Mathur seems to be thinking more about the people living on minimum wage, since unemployment is actually more valuable than that, and that gives no incentive for people to work--when they're living on minimum wage. But you can barely live on that to begin with, which to me says that they're completely justified in taking advantage of what's there. It doesn't make sense that unemployment exceeds the minimum wage in the first place.

Something definitely has to be done, but the money will still come out of workers' wallets. I don't have an issue with that as yet, but I imagine some people will see it as the haves supporting the have-nots and will start waving their torches in the name of stamping out Communism.

Houston

Grackle,
Unemployment is a ratio of what you were compensated for when you were employed. It is usually about 50%.

The idea is to be a safety net for your rent/mortgage, which is in part a ratio of what your original salary was.

As for the haves vs. the have nots: Many of the haves wouldn't have what they have if it wasn't for the have nots. You think we would have near the number of armed forces if everyone was a millionaire?

If the President and politicians want their war, they should be able to pass the GI Bill and Unemployment extensions for their country.

kim

UPDATE AS OF 5-15-08

CNNPOLITICS.COM 4 hours and 18 minutes ago:

"We won," Obey said, noting that other parts of the bill passed.

Florida Republican Ginny Brown-Waite charged that the Democrats were playing politics with the troops and that the new tax would only damage the sluggish economy. But in the end, 32 Republicans voted with Democrats on the measure, passing it 256-166 -- short of a veto-proof majority, however.

The House also passed a 13-week extension on unemployment benefits and a nonbinding proposal that calls for the Pentagon to begin redeploying U.S. troops from Iraq within 30 days, with the goal of getting all U.S. troops out of combat operations by the end of 2009.
-----
Thank you, Jesus!

John T

Unemployment checks are for lazy slugs. As slugs don't have ears or eyes, they may not realize that there is tons of work out there. My nephew, age 23, asked, "Why work?" He quit six jobs in the last two years (because all of his bosses didn't understand him) and now lives with his girlfriend in grant-funded housing. Only fools work, he says. I met another young man, age 26, married, four kids. He said he doesn't work, because he is "learning disabled." No, you sir, are smarter than the rest of us. I could go on and on about the people I know who collect both unemployment checks and make as much as $250 a day working for cash--but I won't. Enjoy it while it lasts. Taxpayers' money is like Holy Water--just dip in and help yourself.

johnt is an idiot

John t.,
I guess you don't believe in Social Security or 401k plans that you and your employer pay into. Unemployment is tax that you and your employer pay into in case you lose your job.

You've obviously never lost a job...yet, because most likely it will happen. The days of your parents' one, maybe two, career jobs in a lifetime are long gone. Expect to be laid off a few times, my ignorant friend. Statistics show workers between the age of 18 and 38 change jobs 10 times. That doesn't sound too stable to me. Be happy that you have a job during this downturn, and read a little bit more on how certain taxes work before you complain about them.

This economy would crumble if some of these safety programs weren't in place. Go learn a thing or two.

brett in pa

John T,
Are you kidding me? Not all of the people on unemployment are lazy slugs like your family members. Tons of jobs out there--yeah, $8 to $9 hour, and if you're lucky it's full time. Could you live on that? For people who were making a good salary and are not anymore, could they? I don't think so. So the next time you accuse all the people on unemployment of being slugs, use your brain and think before you run your trap. Take it from someone who has been working for the last 25 years, and for most of them, two jobs at once. I just recently have been let go, for no reason of my own. So I have worked for the last 25 years of my life full time. I shouldn't have the right to collect unemployment, because I am a slug?

Coretta

This message is for John T. I thank God that he didn't make everybody with the same thought pattern. I really think your newphew is sad as well as the other young man you mention who is trying to get disability with you following behind them. However, everybody is not like them or yourself. This country has some hard working people that want something out of life, and it breaks us to take unemplyoment because we can't find another job.

When I found out that I was losing my job, I started looking for another one. I would show up for a job interview and see 4 or 5 other people from my previous employer applying for the same job. John, the last day on my job(09/09/07) was like somebody dropped a nuclear weapon in my world. In the state of Tennessee the max one can receive in unemployment benefits is $275 a week. When I was working, I was making $800 a week. John, I guess you think we slugs would rather have $275 over $800. Don't you know that I have to take 2 checks to pay my car payment? It would take 4 checks to pay the house payment, then another 3 to pay insurance. And what about the gas, water, electric, food, and all the other bills? I guess I'll have to do without. I have exhausted my umemployment, and I'm working a job paying $6.25 an hour where I only get 15-20 hours a week. I'm on the verge of losing my home.

The only reason I haven't lost my mind is because of the grace of God. I thank God for his mercy and grace everyday. Without it I would be dead.

Jim

To Susan, who said unemployment is "skyrocketing": It doesn't show in the unemployment stats reported weekly.

To Nancy, Bear Stearns was not a bailout of the company or its employees; it was a bailout of financial system, and it was a good thing.

To all those blaming GWB and the Republicans: Look at the Democratic platform; the only jobs they support are union jobs in dying industries. All their other polices are chasing employees out of the country.

Having been laid off three times in my career, I do support extension of the unemployment benefits, especially because, as one writer noted, it's already funded.

Good luck to all the unemployed. Keep your heads up, keep your eyes and ears open, and keep your skills relevant, and you will survive.

Debbra

What you are all forgetting is that you have to work first to qualify for these benefits in the first place. Second, it comes out of your employer's taxes regardless. It's also already sitting there, so it's not hurting us taxpayers in any way if it's used. You are confusing it with welfare benefits, and those of us who are unemployed and are also homeowners don't even qualify for welfare. So back off with calling us lazy slugs and accusing us of feeding off working taxpayers. We are also taxpayers who once had jobs, too. It's a difficult enough job just to juggle our house payments and buy food and gas on half the money with sky-rocketing prices.

Debbra

Also think about it; if the standard benefit formula is taking your highest quarter and then dividing it by 26 weeks for payments, then how would the minimum wagers make more money than minimum wages on unemployment? It don't figure right!

Elizabeth

Age discrimination is alive and well, as someone else said here. The feel-good articles by AARP and other national magazines would have us believe those of us over 50 are being frantically sought out by savvy employers that recognize our work ethic and experience. Maybe, if you're looking for a Wal-Mart greeter position.

The comments from the current administration stating that unemployment benefits are a disincentive to work are sad to the point of tears. Comments like these show the total disconnect between our current leaders and the real world.

Every economic stimulus package is focusing on job creation, i.e., government handouts to businesses, which create service jobs barely above minumum wage with no health insurance benefits. But wait, we can invest all of that money we'll make by flipping burgers in those handy-dandy Health Savings Accounts. Surely those of us prematurely retired by former employers can make it until Social Security kicks in.

Vote Republican? You've got to be kidding.

Dave

OK, hopefully someone can explain to me exactly what a veto-proof vote in Congress means. Does it mean that since the Senate passed the bill with a veto-proof vote, if Bush vetoes the bill, the Senate will have to revote on it? If so, will it also be a three part vote again?

Susanne L

For those unfortunate people who are against the extension of unemployment benefits, HR 5749, you need to wake up, get a grip and look at the real world. We spend billions of dollars helping foreign countries in need every year, but you feel we can't help our own people at a time of high economic woes and sheer desperation? I have been a corporate executive my whole career, and now after 20-plus years of hard work, I have been laid off. My unemployment benefits recently expired, there are no extension programs available to us at this time, and I cannot find a job in the good old US due to the state of the economy and my age bracket. We need the extension granted immediately so our families can try to survive. I strongly believe that any and all politicians not in favor of this bill have no right to be in office representing American families.

C

Dave, veto-proof describes votes with a margin sufficient to override a veto, should it occur. Since a 2/3 vote is required to override, a veto-proof majority is 290 in the House and 67 in the Senate.

JohnT

Susanne:
Do you really need the government to take care of you? Where is your network? What did you do for 20 years? Were you retired-in-place and found out? I am asking you these hard questions, because I have been self-employed since 1997 and have discovered this is the land of opportunity. What is your passion? Convert that into a business plan. Even in the socialist state called Michigan, we have got folks from Bosnia living here less than six years who have become multimillionaires. In the 1970s and 1980s (when there was no Internet) unemployment in the U.S. averaged almost 8%. Now it's about 5%, which some say is normal. So come on, folks, get moving--opportunity is not going to wait for you.

You folks with the big monthly payments need to learn how to budget. Remember the four S's: Stop Spending and Start Saving. Get rid of the car payment by selling the car; my car is 10 years old, and I only buy gas. I live in an apartment and bank the difference. Let's get real here. Nobody is going to do it for you. Let's start taking control of our own lives. It feels great.

Cathy M

What the peanut counters don't figure into their stats are the people who have fallen off the chart. I have fallen off the chart in the past few weeks. Now that the unemployment insurance is exhausted, I am selling my possessions. First the nonessentials, then the essential items will be sold--for next to nothing because everyone wants a bargain. Sure hope and pray they pass the extension, or I won't have anything left to sell.

Cathy M

"Workers with unemployment benefits have a reduced incentive to search for work."

A reduced incentive? How dare you? Do you enjoy insulting those who are down on their luck? Someone who is unfortunate enough to be collecting unemployment benefits (notice the term "benefits") has to be seeking work in order to collect. Oh, but you probably don't know that, because you presume the unemployed are lazy and worthless. Excuse me for presuming as much as you did.

Please--have someone write these articles who will do the proper research before writing a personal opinion. For those of us who are in training and our unemployment has run out, the extension would make it possible to finish the fast paced training without having to sell personal possessions. I just had to sell some things to pay for groceries. I have been employed for 28 years. In my adulthood, I have never been on assistance, but have paid into the system as required. Now I require just a little more time to receive a little more help, and you think I have no incentive. Shame on you. You have a lot of nerve and no compassion for the people who are suffering through a very tough economy. By the way, there is more than enough money in the government fund that would be used to pay for the extension. I did the research.

Maureen D.

Decisions makers really need to walk a mile in our shoes. I've run out of benefits and am applying for jobs at half of my old salary with more than 100 qualified applicants competing for the same position. Very simply put, job elimination at age 54 after being with the same company 35 years is terrifying. I've never once received any assistance over the years and am totally underwhelmed (but not surprised) at the attitude displayed on this extension.

Susanne L

Dear John T,
No, I was not retired in place, sorry to disappoint you. I actually relocated to another state so our son could have emergency medical care. I had a great job when I relocated; my boss was mortified that I was moving, but through some really hard work, I was able to secure a corporate vice-president position at my new location. Unfortunately, due to some improper organizational structures and poor management or lack there of prior to my arrival, I was laid off a few short months after being hired. I have likewise always been self-employed, and worked a small business in addition to my primary corporate job prior to my relocation. I have a high respect for people like you, who are the back bone and pride of America, and I am glad you have been successful. I also am smart enough to realize that with any new business setup, especially one in a new area, it takes time and money. While I owe no formal personal explanation of my financial situation, I thought it fitting to let you know that all of my savings went to handle my son's medical crisis. So did I comply with the four S's that you mentioned? You betcha, I did. It is just very sad that the one time people like me really need help to get back on their feet, people tend to offer criticism without asking questions and understanding the hard facts. Are there abusers of the unemployment system out there? Certainly, as with any and all systems, but I personally like to think that most people faced with the severe economic situations of today genuinely have a sincere need. The sad news is that we only hear about the horror stories of unemployment and other related services, and the factual, sincere stories, like some of the ones I have read about here, are kept at bay.

Thank you.

TK

John t,
How about this scenario? I was laid off last June and ended up finding another job that started at the beginning of December. Halfway through February, our three major clients had to freeze their contracts.

I was let go again. This time, however, I hadn't worked the 16 weeks required to establish a new unemployment claim. I was able to reopen my previous claim that would pay benefits for one week.

I have been tapping into my emergency funds since to pay my mortgage. Am I a lazy slug who is abusing the system? If the economy is spitting back eligible workers that the White House will label "discouraged and not looking for jobs" within a few weeks of their last jobs, is it wrong to want some sort help or should people in my shoes just charge it to their cards?

Thank you. I look forward to your wisdom.--TK.

Eileen

I, too, have worked all my life and take offense at being called lazy. I worked as a flight attendant for a major airline for 14 years, then gave this up and all good benefits up to stay home and raise my kids. I then got my real estate license after a subsequent divorce. I have made a good living for myself and my children. The real estate market is dead; my benefits have expired. I have gone through all my savings in order to survive. Health insurance is a luxury I can't afford, like millions of others. This is exacerbated by the high costs of food, taxes, gas, and living expenses. I have money for one house payment. Then I can't pay bills or eat. My home is the only asset I have. I am about to lose it. I am 58, single, and scared out of my mind. I, like many others, have tried tenaciously to find work--I love working and have suffered a depression from the loss of my job, and life.The arrogance of Bush and his supporters is appalling. Too wake up with anxiety attacks every day and think your life is over is no fun. I pray every day for a job and for those families who need help. Our country needs to take care of its own right now before spending billions on foreign issues. Bush won't even admit there is a recession.How many good people have to lose their livelihood and homes--and maybe even consider taking there own lives out of desperation and feeling there is no way out before the government wakes up? This is pure hell, and only those who have gone through it understand. A little bit of human compassion and kindness go a long way. I do not advocate it is the government's responsibility to bail us out. I have always believed in hard work and taking care of your own. However, this is a recession, and this country's people are in dire straits.We need this extension now before more homes go into foreclosure, which will make the spiral of desperation even worse.

marcella

I have worked in the mortgage industry for almost 20 years, paying state and federal taxes (and into unemployment, right?) each and every year. I was laid off in October, 2007, and my unemployment benefits have now expired. I've signed up with CareerBuilders, JobSeeker, Monster, etc., and although I've sent out numerous resumes, I have yet to receive an interview with anybody. As I can no longer continue with my mortgage industry experience, I will have to change my entire resume (and career) to fit...what? Anything else I do will put me at an entry level position. I don't mind starting from the bottom again and learning something new. That's fine. I just can't afford to pay my bills, my mortgage, and insurances with the entry-level pay scale. I guess I have to start selling my personal possessions soon.

JohnT

TK: Do something.

Tinkertot

You can always get a job if you want one. Dig ditches for all I care. It's not right to live off hard-working people's paychecks. Unemployment already pays enough. It has gotten so bad that people teach their kids how to live off welfare. Stealing from the rich and giving to the poor sounds good, but it's really Communism.

John

America needs Bastille Day to rid us of the greedy filthy rich--now.

audrey

I hope all the jobless Republicans are aware that it is because of the Republicans' votes that kept this bill from passing yesterday. Remember that in November when it comes to electing officials representing you. I certainly will not be voting Republican just because of this nonsense.

TK

JohnT

I have been doing something. But I am not getting any interviews, because the market is flooded with the unemployed.

Would you be willing to help fund a startup business with me?

jane bilka

I have been unemployed since September, 2007. I have been diligently looking for work. I live in Georgia. Georgia's unemployment rate is higher than that of the rest of the U.S. For every job posted, 20 or more people apply. It is difficult to find a job in Savannah before the recession. Employers are not hiring or replacing any employee that has left their employ.

Unemployment compensation in Georgia is lower than in the northern states, $260 a week. With inflation, this does not go very far. If unemployment is not extended, I will be evicted and living on the streets as well as my car being repossessed.

The President needs to realize the difficulty we are going through and sign the bill to extend benefits. With more big companies laying off people, the unemployment rate is continuing to grow.

Hayden Morrison

As someone who has been unemployed since October, it is insulting to hear certain Republicans say that 13 extra weeks is TOO GENEROUS! I am 33, have a master’s degree, and have worked in public service and non-profit human services organizations my entire career. Things happen; the economy changes and reorganizations take place--that's life. We are in a period of reorganizations, closures, downsizing, and layoffs. The President himself has said that these are difficult financial times.

Most Americans are ready to go to work at any job that will sustain themselves and their families. In my case, I have decided to go back to school in the fall to pursue a Ph.D. As a single young man, I am blessed to take advantage of this opportunity. However, in the meantime, I am now two months without any type of employment or unemployment benefit. The market is too flooded to consider someone who will only be working for a short period before school starts. Believe me, I have left no stone unturned. I would much rather work for a paycheck instead of call in a weekly unemployment benefit claim. But I need the wherewithal to purchase the medicines I take, the gas to look for a part-time job, and the very simple necessities of life.

Having worked on Capitol Hill in 1995 and then back in the district offices of a couple of Congress members, I can fathom the statements that these benefits are too generous. This Administration has evolved our country from the "beacon on a hill" and the land of endless opportunity to a country where "we," your government representatives, should not be too generous.

As I remember, the White House and the U.S. Capitol are made of marble and sandstone quarried by the labor of fine Americans. However, it seems that in recent history certain public officials, leaders, and individuals pledged to represent their constituents, have been building new ivory towers from which to look down on those who are screaming for their help.

"Come down; come down from your ivory tower. Let [compassion] come into your heart. Don't lock yourself in an ivory tower. Don't keep us so far apart."

Gina

We need to extend the benefits for a short time while things are so bad in the economy. To the person who stated that people will be less likely to look for work: You must know some real losers. The people I know cannot live on unemployment and won't be able to stay afloat on that amount of money for long. Most people need to look for work, but in the meantime a little helping hand can't hurt.

JohnT

While I don't take any pleasure in the fact that in a dynamic, efficient (free market) economy, millions of people will lose their jobs each year (even in good times), this "money" comes from ordinary people who have had the gumption to offer employment to other ordinary people. Somebody said something about a "Bastille Day" against the "filthy greedy rich," as if the most productive people in the history of the world, the folks creating wealth and jobs, are the cause of current woe. One big problem is what I call is today's "Obama thinking": There is this big honey pot out there, and all you gotta do is stick your hand in and grab all you can carry. Go ahead.

Last year I paid 10% more in taxes than I earned. How many years can the government keep that up? A number of folks essentially admitted that they will not work for X number of dollars. Then don't. As for me, in the 1991 recession, I went from $70,000 a year to the minimum wage (retail), but I could work unlimited hours. There were days I worked double shifts. I made damn good money.

Perhaps the Obama generation does not realize that "back in the day," it was common for folks one generation ago to work two full-time jobs. For years and years. Now it is not possible to be productive due to excessive taxing.

How about "Bastille Day" against the filthy, greedy politicians? Folks in Michigan: Leave that high-tax hell hole with your Marxist governor or suffer in silence. Indiana, for example, is exploding with work, new ideas, and high productivity. If you believe the government will "solve" your problems, there are plenty of governments out there that will welcome you (like Michigan).

Everyone else, well, we are in this together. First aid tells us to 1) start breathing and 2) stop the bleeding. This means 1) if you believe there are "no" jobs, then, for you, at least this is true. Start thinking like a salesperson. That means overcoming your own negativity. 2) Get a job. Life is, after all, very good. It just ain't easy.

C

Thank you, Jesus. So many workers who exhausted there unemployment benefits will final get help. This was a very long, depressing battle.

The Thankful One

Finally! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Kim

Look at God.

confused

I'm a little confused with what I read. Can someone please answer a question for me: If I worked full time from December of 2006 to August of 2007 and my unemployment ran out in February of 2008, do I qualify for the 13-week extension?

C

Confused, yes, you do qualify. You must have worked 20 weeks before getting laid off.

Mikey

I live in Indiana, and my benefits have run out. How do I apply for the extension? I worked on my job for 10 years, and benefits just ran out two weeks ago. I am almost out of money, with the wolves beginning to gather. If you who are reading this know of some manufacturing jobs that are hiring in this state, please share,

Romanita

I received my last unemployment check today, but it was for only one week. Should it be for two weeks? And also I do believe that I qualify for the 13-week extension. Can anyone give some answers to these two questions? God bless everyone, and I will acknowledge you in my prayers, and keep the faith.

MacKnife

Just like before the union revolution when employees where underpaid with miserable work conditions, the rich and greedy business owners have once again figured out how to get cheap labor. All at a cost to the honorable U.S. working class. And business owners are being backed up by a government that taxes without representation. (The government taxes gas at around 15% for each gallon we buy and produce not so much as one drop of oil). That loves to bust unions. My job slot still exists, but it is now located in China. I am 57 and have been told by peeps that hire employees that they are really happy if they can get 10 to 15 years out of an employee. Where does that leave me? Bush has easily become the worst president ever. It is obvious that the average Joe has no place in government plans anymore. Yeah, the extension helps, but it is not a solution.

Gloria Vasilopoulos

What about the people who did not receive anymore unemployment checks when the unemployment ran out? I did not receive about five or six checks or more before I found a new job (I was lucky to find a new job). I am very far behind on all my bills because of the loss of unemployment checks in those five to six weeks or more.

What is to do about this? Give the unemployment checks that I did not receive? Please advise.

Thank you.

Margarett Simmons

My story was that I was fired; they just walked right in and told me and took my key. I asked why. She said that I didn't follow up on my work, and right then I knew it was a lie, because my boss was just standing there with a grin on his face. I had always gone way beyond my duties, and he was always so impressed. He always told everyone that he had found me, and I was his hire. But even good things come to an end. I was so torn that I had a nervous breakdown from the blow. My husband and I had to file bankruptcy just to get rid some bills.

I had a hearing with a judge and another woman that worked at the company about 2.5 hours away, and needless to say, I was denied. I tried again (denied). Then the last time they sent paperwork that had to be done electronically, and there was no way that I could do this. So I went to the lawyer and he looked at everything and said it was a hard fight being that it was a state job and my boss had been covering up things on his behalf, and if I wanted to pursue it, it would cost me $4,000 that I sure didn't have. He said he was sorry, that when the state was involved, you just can't win. That was his reason for the cost. From August 8, 2007 till August 19, 2008, I haven't had any way to be stimulating with the funds that I have. The amount of unemployment would have been a little more than $4,000, and this company is supposed to be Christian affiliated. I'm sorry I can't define what the main person is doing throwing a big hoopla and dancing on the tables at the casino drunk.

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