Journalism in the Public Interest

With Federal Benefits Set to Expire, Unemployed Workers Face Shrinking Safety Net


Job seekers line up to attend the Diversity Job Fair at the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York City on Sept. 29, 2010. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Unless Congress acts to extend programs for those who have exhausted regular state unemployment benefits, millions of jobless workers may soon be phased out of emergency unemployment benefits.

Unemployment benefits from states typically last for 26 weeks, but since 2008, Congress has on four occasions passed emergency provisions that use federal funds to extend benefits for jobless workers by up to 73 weeks, depending on the state’s laws and unemployment rate. These benefits are set to expire tomorrow unless lawmakers intervene.

According to The Hill, a yearlong extension of federal unemployment benefits, which the White House supports, would cost an estimated $65 billion. (A New York Times editorial over the weekend noted that this would be a far smaller blow to the deficit than extending George W. Bush’s tax cuts for those making more than $250,000 annually. Not extending federal unemployment insurance, it noted, would cause 2 million unemployed workers to be cut off from federal unemployment benefits by the end of the year.)

But as we’ve reported in our examination of the unemployment insurance system, federal funds are going to the states regardless. We updated the data today, and by our calculation, 31 states have together borrowed more than $41 billion from the federal government due to shortfalls in their unemployment trust funds.

According to a congressional report released last week, more than 40 percent of jobless workers have been unemployed for at least 27 weeks—longer than the 26 weeks’ worth of benefits that some states are still borrowing to cover. Failure to extend the federal benefits, according to the bipartisan Joint Economic Committee, would result in spending more on other programs, such as disability insurance, assistance to needy families and food stamps.

Last week, House lawmakers voted on a measure to extend federal unemployment insurance by three months, but it did not pass. Benefits will begin to lapse if an extension still doesn’t pass before the deadline on Tuesday, though if lawmakers succeed in passing one later, they may grant the benefits retroactively.

For more on the state of the nation’s unemployment insurance system, check out our Unemployment Insurance Tracker to see if your state has already been borrowing to cover its share of benefits for unemployed workers.

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I was so pissed when I read this article that I emailed the link to all the papers in my state. Why am I so angry? Because I live in Washington State. We have two and a half times more than the next highest state sitting in an account while we cut all of our working poor services. They are taking way too much money and need to refigure it.

America has the most puritanical, punitive, penny pinching misers for employers when it comes to our work force.  Not all employers fit that description, but unfortunately, most of them do.  I don’t understand why we are so afraid of socialism that we cannot realize that the health (both economic and physical) of our workforce is connected to every part of the quality of life of all the citizens of our country.  Ever since Regan decided unions were bad for the wealth of the rich and trickle down was good enough for our workers, this country has been headed in a downward spiral.  There is nothing wrong with honoring the working people - in fact it is a good thing to do.  It’s worshiping money and power that has made us into what we are today - a big, fat mess!

self employed

Nov. 29, 2010, 5:33 p.m.

If you can’t find a job in 2 years your either

1 not looking
2 disabled
3 substance addicted

You may have to start at the bottom but Micky D’s is hiring every day.

I am not my friend,

1. not looking
2. disabled
3. substance addicted

Read My Story/Blog about being unemployed:

Read Robert Reich’s book: After Shock. It affords a clear, concise look at what has happened to the american middle class….it is a must read.

billions for the wall street.  nada for main street.  the new boss is the same as the old boss. 
@ “self-employed”, your desire to come off as a callous asshole has succeeded.  my neighbor applied to mcd’s and was turned down.  clearly, you have no clue.

Hey “self employed”—I’m disabled and just got turned down for goverment benefits. Wanna pay for my meds?

The question is: why in hell does Obama keep going along with these fools. They all recite the lines about how in “these times you don’t raise taxes” how can they be so foolish to think it is a good time to eliminate any subsidy for the unemployed?

In the past 5 years, Federal employees earning 150k or more have increased 1006%, those earning 180k or more have increased 2001% (USA Today).  Governement affairs director Jessica Klement says that “pay analysis shows federal workers earn less than private workers for comparable jobs”.  Can someone ask Jessica to point the 14+ million unemployed in the direction of those comparable jobs.  That would be a good start.

Until all able bodied people decide to march, storm the barricades, show in mass to the fools on the hill, that business as usual won’t be tolerated, then you will be nothing more than a statistic for some highly paid conservative economist. At one time, those same type of people were run out of town on a rail after being tared & feathered. There seems to be enough “chicken feathers around & I’m sure there’s plenty of that sticky stuff too. I’m also sure that when your Mother & Father decided that the family was important, they didn’t plan on having the offspring becoming sniveling wimps afraid of action to uphold doing a fair job at a fair pay.  Give up your lazy ways and fight for your rights. Or, just continue to bend over letting the you know what drill your you know what. I’m sure that will make both you & you children proud.

Huge gap of those that have and the growing number that are increasingly hitting bottom.

I wonder sometimes if there is not some grand plan by leaders of not only our country but say the EU that if they gut the middle class perhaps the masses of the 3rd world will like us. Clearly some grand plan was launched to systematically to move industry, manufacturing, technology and food production from the USA. Folks we are in trouble. Blaming a tech worker, or any other worker, who made more than minimum wage to now work at Denny’s is a slap in the face. Most families both the wife and husband were working.

Today I read that the PEW reported that on average illegals earned $56k per year. They pay little to no taxes, a percentage is paid under the table. Jobs the illegal is sucking up should go to legal Americans. Not all jobs illegals seem to be privy to is cutting grass or cleaning toilets.

I think it is not productive to blame Americans who are out of work, they did not create this hole we find ourselves in.

The current call for unemployment extension appears to ONLY cover those about to lose their benefits this month. What about the people who lost assistance back in the summer? Have people just forgotten about them, or don’t care? This isn’t fair. How do we fight to get them included? If the government is discriminating against them they people should sue.

And, don’t worry about self employed. “People” like that always get to choke hard on their words.

@self employed.  I’m glad that you can make it my friend but are you making enough to cover Health insurnace for you and your family?  And do you have anyone in your family with a medical condition.  The story notes that over 40% of people are unemployed longer than 26 weeks.  With 1 job per 5 people looking, that means the odds aren’t good for finding a job.  And in many areas the unemployment rates ar ehigher and when you ar eunemployed with a family you can’t always affford to move.

The fact remains that unemployment is one of the the most effective stimulus for the economy with 1 dollar havint the effect of 1.6 dollars.  Haven’t you noticed the foreclosure rate?  It’s over 20% here in PA and people aren’t lazy - they can’t find jobs that allow them to make their mortgage payments. What happens when you have someone who hs to have medicine and you have no health insurance to cover it?

It’s sad and mean spirited that here in the land that espouses family values that we are even having this conversation.  Or haven’t you read the articles about homeless children in schools and how it affects academic performance and the community. Lack of unemployment insurance is simply going to cost more in other ways.  It means my local taxes are going up to compensate as well and simply that children go hungry.  What purpose does this serve?

And meanwhile a war is going on - the only one without a tax increase I might add and it is definately not free - that is adding a huge amount to the deficit and it’s not even being dicussed.. 

Or do we simply give lip service to family values and compassion?  And while we are talking deficits - lets

Also self employed

Nov. 30, 2010, 10:11 a.m.

So many of you can’t even recognize your dependence on unemployment funds. They aren’t saving you—they are helping you to avoid standing on your own two feet. As for why folks don’t have jobs ... well, the spelling and grammar on this one thread alone is below standards. My guess is that too many Americans lack the basic education to do the jobs that bring in higher pay.

Someone mentioned if the loss of jobs and shipping jobs overseas came from a “deliberate” plan….well….some “food for thought”!
The incoming Reagan Administration back in 1980 wrote a “white paper” that included the strategy for business and labor during their upcoming term… included a phrase such as:
“American labor must be crushed to a world level playing field in order for American companies to compete in a global economy”.
We, that are old enough remember clearly what happened next…the Air Traffic Controllers Union was decimated when Reagan declared their strike illegal…...and the leader of the AFL-CIO at the time Lane Kirkland didn’t lift a finger to fight.  Corrupt politicians and major labor leaders have assisted the “crushing of American labor” for decades….It’s only now that labor is realizing the toll that politicians and their own leaders have on the rank and file (middle class families and jobs).
Good paying, middle class jobs, don’t come because companies (read: global corporations) think we are all “good looking and deserve those jobs”.  That good pay that enabled American workers to afford a decent life came with gigantic labor struggles.  If Americans aren’t up to the fight now, then they will continue to have their quality of life (read: not “lifestyles”) crushed.
Most Americans are totally ignorant of labor history. And, corporations know this and fight to keep that history out of our early education. 
America is now deeply entrenched in 19th and early 20th century mentality. 
We need leadership that will take us into a true 21st century. 
A rejuvenation of the desire to fight for a better quality of life; and the realization that the common folk “own the streets” where corporations and corrupt politicians “fear to tread.”
Learn how to fight again.
That’s the only way we will survive as “common people” and ascertain some kind of decent life for our children and grandchildren.
And, for God’s sake!  Stop picking on “illegal immigrants”’re falling right into the trap of focusing your problems on an “outside source”....a classic tactic of any government when they are in trouble….
Learn to fight again.

@Also self-employed, Are you guessing on why people are unemployed? Dude, I want you to take both of your hands, place them on your behind and pull. Pull as hard as you can and try to get your head out of your ass.

You have no Job:

What happens when you have no insurance to pay for the necessary drugs to keep you from having a heart attack?

What happens when all of your life’s current and long term assets are being spent on keeping you alive?

What happens when you have a family to feed and a cocker spaniel that has to be fed cooked rice and pork?

Christoper, let me be the first to applaud you for taking good care of your cocker spaniel rather than dumping him or her at the local shelter or on the street. I know that you’re going to get some backlash on this from folks who don’t consider animals “important”. Don’t take it to heart. How we treat those who have been trained to be dependent on us shows what type of people we really are.

Hmmm. Come to think of it, that pretty well sums up what’s going on in our country today!

Lets roll back time, to the onset of the Industrial Age, when many tradesman became self employed. There was not unemployment insurance, only those with work and those without. No middle class to consume products produced by the trades in volumes necessary to create wealth. Volume produced was sold to local markets.
So lets stop this silliness of insuring unemployment, and get on with a full depression cycle and deflation. Lets get on with millions roaming America looking to survive, leaving offspring and wives to fend for themselves or rely on private charity. Lets get those soup kitchens fired up to feed the hungry, lest crime increase and personal security of the self employed is threatened.
Very few Americans have experience Chaos, economic collapse, total insecurity, however, most have seen film and video reports of people, the crowds,and desperation of those unable to join in the economic rewards of the few. Then some savior will come along promising change, offer some weapons, and before you can blink an eye, right here on this land we call America we become the video report broadcast to the rest of the world.

The choice is obvious to all but blind narcissists who actually believe in there own fantasy world that they are the cause of their being with wealth, when in reality it was do to those looking to take it away under arms now, who wanted a chance but were denied through not their negligence but those corrupted by greed.

Somebody looking

Nov. 30, 2010, 10:22 p.m.

one of the few things I have read is is that the name “self employed"means C*cksucker.

People have it backwards.  The federal government owes you nothing and is not the source of anything.  Productive Profitable Activity Is!  Do not worry about the federal government and do not expect anything from them.  Your security comes only from your own resoucefulness.  Sell your homes and move to the jobs.  Wealth is produced by the very people you call greedy.  Profit in the end is the only motive.

Nissim Sasson

Dec. 2, 2010, 4:47 p.m.

The Republicans only care about their rich friends. They don’t care about the people They want to give $700 Billion to the rich in taxes (which is only 25 of the population) but they don’t want to give 18 billion in Unemployment benefits to the people that really needs it. Not even if it also helps the economy (the rich just will keep this money and wont spend it like they been doing all along, the unemployed will spend it because it needs to )
The Republicans are Reversed Robin Hoods !

Nissim Sasson

Dec. 2, 2010, 4:58 p.m.

Antony Lima,  Sell their homes? are you kidding me?  what home value? after the Billionaires banks did to this country and this economy do you think there is any equity left? You probably live either in another world or another country and by the way people pay taxes for unemployment benefits, so yes the federal governmental do owe this to the people, What the Federal government don’t owe to the people is the 700 billion dollars en taxes for the rich
Antony you the one that has it backwards
Get Informed! here is some info on homes

Nissim Sasson

Dec. 2, 2010, 5 p.m.

Sorry in my previous comment i meant 2% of the population not 25 (finger error)

The federal government owes us, the working people, everything!  They’ve been taxing us instead of the money and given all the money to their shyster friends who already had most of it.  You have to have been employed and paid into unemployment insurance to get the benefit in the first place.  You have to be real docile to put up with what the elected and appointed officials in this government are doing to the working people while they feather their own and all their corrupt power mongering buddies nests at the expense of our economy and our freedoms!  We couldn’t be more docile.  We have made it real easy for these slime ball criminals to get where they are today.  If you don’t stand up and be counted and heard, then sit right down and take some more of their tyranny, there’s plenty more where they’ve gotten what they’ve rained down on us already.

Dee, you are right!!
Like I said before, UI is something we pay into and like SS sometimes we get out of it more than we put in, this is one of those times. Just like many retired folk who does get out more than they put in, and we cannot forget those on SSI Disability… who probably put in nothing, especially those on disability for… lets see addictions, obesity, alcoholism… etc!!

Directed anger is what we need, I am ready to go see my congresscritter casey, at his office throw down a resume and my story and say can you find me a job, in your office, one of your benefactors or one that donated money for a vote even, maybe has a good job to offer one of your constituents.

Maybe we should all do that.

My blog again to peruse…

As the Congress attempts to tackle the deficit clearly it will be at the expense of the working poor or the non-working poor. The deficit we face is due to our Gov’t's involvement around the globe. The wars of Iraq and Afghanistan. As we borrow more to bolster those who are winning the assault of the USA and countries of the EU let America bare the cost of keeping them safe we the American peoples pay the ultimate sacrifice.

Time for our Gov’t to pull back from the war on terror forcing other countries to do their fair share. Also time for us to face the fact that involvement in the global economy is not paying off for America. Free trade seems only to apply to the USA.

Instead of Americans going after the throat of other Americans we would have more impact if we went after the throats of elite politicians.

As the Congress attempts to tackle the deficit clearly it will be at the expense of the working poor or the non-working poor. The deficit we face is due to our Gov’t's involvement around the globe. The wars of Iraq and Afghanistan. Bolstering Pakistan who’s self interest is to keep us engaged in Afghanistan that war is lucrative for them. We borrow more to bolster those who are winning the assault on the USA. Countries of the EU let America bare the cost of keeping them safe we the American peoples pay the ultimate sacrifice.

Time for our Gov’t to pull back from the war on terror forcing other countries to do their fair share. Also time for us to face the fact that involvement in the global economy is not paying off for America. Free trade seems only to apply to the USA.

Instead of Americans going after the throat of other Americans we would have more impact if we went after the throats of elite politicians.

Please Google “Comprehensive Annual Financial Report” to find out how badly ALL the governments have been cheating us.  These are the real accounting figures for what they are doing with our money, city, county, state and federal and every sub-level or quasi-governmental agency.  It is nothing short of racketeering.  They are monsters and we have to stop them loudly, bravely and intelligently.  You don’t fear what you understand - understand this and fear no more.  Stand up to the bullies and put our government back into our hands again where it has always supposed to have been.  Good luck to us all!  Stay vigilant.  It’s our only hope to restore the republic.

Dee Miller I could not agree with you more. We do need to restore the Republic. I no longer can stand but I can fight from my chair, over the Internet, through the blogs and I call and write the elite who should be representing we the people but now have their allegiance to Corporate, foreign interests and alas themselves. Trust not one of the scum in Washington.

President Bush signed a first round of tax cuts into law in 2001. During his administration three million jobs (net) were created over its eight years, a fraction of the 23 million jobs created under President Bill Clinton’s administration. The Republicans [and T-BAGGERS] would have us believe that those making over $250,000 are the ones creating the jobs. If this is true, why did the rich create 20 million less jobs than the previous 8 years, while reaping the benefits of the tax breaks?

If the rich were creating jobs with living wages, everyone could have afforded to buy a home; there would have been more homes built for the working man’s market and we would never have had to suffer through the sub-prime market bust.  But, greed leads the list of vices of the rich and it sure has been leading the leaders of this country - political and industrial - around by the nose finally to the demise of our economy.  Wal-mart wages a growing economy does not make - it just makes Wal-mart grow.

So…........what are we going to do… one has offered any answers…only the guy talking revolution.

Revolution cannot work. We need a level that would of never been seen before on earth. Those who did revolt in the 20th century were crushed by the state sponsored military. And really most people are in front of the video games to do so. Or even healthy enough to do so.

This would take time, money and the wherewithal to survive on nothing and as a older person I would try to lead… if there is a sponsor and delegates that I could lead.

What we need is first and foremost is someone with the money to buy a congresscritter or two or a dozen, Then we need to put forth a agenda like “Jobs For All”. Take back NAFta and all those other alphabet bills that have taken away our jobs. We do not need to lower our standard but make the 3rd world countries labor up to ours and then the field will be level. 

This could be a start….

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