Posts Tagged ‘Unemployment’

Unemployment and Re-employment

27 October 2012 - By

Unemployment Benefits Reduce Poverty

The Congressional Research Service released a report on the: Antipoverty Effects of Unemployment Insurance (UI) [pdf].

This report examines the antipoverty effects of unemployment insurance benefits during the past recession and the economic recovery. The analysis highlights the impact of the additional and expanded unemployment insurance (UI) benefits available to unemployed workers through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program. In 2011, approximately 56% of all unemployed individuals were receiving UI benefits (down from a high of 66% in 2010). UI benefits appear to have a large poverty-reducing effect among unemployed workers who receive them. Given the extended length of unemployment among jobless workers, the additional weeks of UI benefits beyond the regular program’s 26-week limit appear to have had an especially important effect in poverty reduction.

The report’s analysis shows that UI benefits appear to reduce the prevalance of poverty significantly among the population that receives them. The UI benefits’ poverty reduction effects appear to be especially important during and immediately after recessions. The analysis also finds that there was a markedly higher impact on poverty in the most recent recession than in the previous two recessionary periods. The estimated antipoverty effects of UI benefits in 2011 were about 50% higher than that of two previous peak years of unemployment — 1993 and 2003.

In 2011, over one quarter (26.5%) of unemployed people who received UI benefits would have been considered poor prior to taking UI benefits into account; after counting UI benefits, their poverty rate decreased by just under half, to 13.8%.

NELP Reports on the Value of the Public Re-Employment Services

The National Employment Law Project (NELP) recently issued a briefing paper titled: Getting Real: Time to Re- Invest in the Public Employment Service [pdf].

The paper highlights the value of reemployment services. Their briefing calls for a “renewed focus on reemployment services,” with substantial increases in federal funding for the Employment Service. According to NELP, increased funding for the Employment Services would allow states to provide more services to job seekers such as: job placement services, in-person job search assistance, and pre-training counseling. In addition to increased federal funding, NELP recommends prioritizing those who are receiving unemployment insurance.

A Prayer for the Unemployed on Labor Day

3 September 2012 - By

Almighty God,

As we reflect on this Labor Day in fellowship and in hope we call ourselves a people committed to following You to serve the well-being of others. We commit to one another’s dignity and welfare. We know that our creativity is a gift from You; and we commit the work of our hearts and hands and minds to Your service and to Your glory in all that we do.

We see in one another and in those whom we serve Your divine signature, and we honor it. We know that You are present among us as we offer this prayer in one voice to You, Lord God of compassion and mercy. We ask that You remain with us and strengthen us as we endeavor to ensure that Your justice is served.

We remember particularly today those among our brothers and sisters who are without meaningful and sustaining work, those who struggle to provide for themselves and their families. We ask that You guide us and grant us the wisdom to address the problem of unemployment and underemployment in our community and in our nation.

Encourage us now, Lord, as we seek to find solutions to these challenges. Lord, in Your presence and filled with hope; guided by Your grace we are determined to preserve the well-being and dignity of working people and their families across this country. Grant that we persevere with faith and hope, and in the sure knowledge that justice will certainly triumph. Amen.

Extend unemployment insurance – action needed

13 December 2011 - By

Leaders in the House majority plan a vote on HR 3630—a bill that would slash federal unemployment benefits in every state and cut federal UI benefits by more than half in the Renew unemployment insurance UIstates with the highest unemployment rates. Tell your Members of Congress and Congressional leaders to oppose these reckless and harmful cuts to unemployment insurance, and instead support swift action to fully renew the federal UI program through 2012.

Millions of hardworking Americans—nearly 2 million in January alone, and over 6 million in 2012—will be cut off from the emergency lifeline of federal unemployment insurance, unless Congress acts to fully renew the program before it expires December 31st. In the past three years, federal unemployment insurance has helped more than 17 million Americans while they’ve looked for work in the toughest job market since the Great Depression. Recent Census figures show that federal unemployment insurance helped keep more than 3 million from falling into poverty last year alone.

A January 2010 report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) looked at a variety of strategies for increasing employment and raising the gross domestic product (GDP), which is the market value of all goods and services that reach the consumer. It noted that for every dollar in UI benefits, $1.90 in economic benefit is created. The CBO looked at a variety of strategies to boost the economy — or to keep things from getting worse — such as investing in infrastructure, reducing income taxes, or cutting payroll taxes for companies that hire new people. Increasing aid to the unemployed offered the biggest bang for the buck, according to its estimates. Other studies such as that by Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Analytics, note similar results.

Congress has never cut back or allowed these programs to expire when unemployment was anywhere near this high for this long. Congress must act, and act now.

Tell Congress: Renew the full federal Unemployment Insurance program through 2012 Now! or call toll-free 1-888-245-3381.

On Veteran’s Day

11 November 2011 - By

For my dad, grandfather, and all our Veterans. May their service and sacrifice be honored.

My dad, Louis T. Konicki at Mainz-Bischofshein - part of the post WWII occupying forces

Our veterans are now returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, and of course are greeted with initial joy. Then they face the search for work and the struggle with the horrors they have faced. They face a lack of adequate physical and mental health care. As to jobs, what are our veterans finding? An extraordinarily difficult job market with an unemployment rate for combat-age veterans at 17.5% in New York State, 13.3% nationally.

Dr. John Guzlowski reflects in November 11, 1918–The Day World War I Ended

I first heard of World War I when we came to America as Displaced Persons in 1951. We were refugees after World War II, and we moved into a basement apartment on Hamilton Street in Chicago.

Our landlord was a veteran of the First World War. He was a Polish American named Ponchek. He was also a drunk, but that wasn’t anything special. There were a lot of drunks around. What made Ponchek special was that he had a steel plate in his head. As a kid and a recent immigrant to America, he had been drafted and sent to France to stop the Germans who were trying to rip France apart and shove it into the Atlantic. He ended up in the trenches in France in late October fighting the Germans, and a bullet took off the top of his head. The doctors cut away what bone they could, cleaned out the wound, and screwed a steel plate into the skull bone.

This fascinated me when I was a kid. I wondered about that plate, and what it felt like. Did Ponchek always feel a weight pressing down on his head? Was it like wearing a steel hat? A steel helmet? And I wondered what they covered the plate with. Skin? And where did it come from? Was it his skin or someone else’s? I never could ask.

Like a lot of the veterans I knew, he was frightening. He wasn’t a guy you wanted to spend a lot of time talking to.

Veterans were men who limped. They dragged their legs behind them like Lon Chaney in the Mummy movie. They were men who had wooden legs that creaked when they walked past you and the other kids sitting on the stoop. These veterans had no arms or only one arm, or were missing fingers or hands, or ears.

My dad, a guy who lost his left eye when he was clubbed by a Nazi guard in a concentration camp, used to go to a bar where the owner had a black, shiny rubber hand. He lost his real hand during the Warsaw Uprising in 1944 when he shoved a homemade grenade into the steel treads of a German tank. The black rubber hand was like some kind of weird toy. Sometimes, it looked like a black fist, sometimes it looked like an eight ball.

Sometimes, a vet without arms or legs sat on the sidewalk in front of this bar. He had a cloth hat in front of him, and he was selling pencils. He’d sit there smiling, making chit chat with the guys walking in and out of the bar. You’d toss him a nickel, and you could take a pencil, but most guys didn’t. Who needs a pencil?…

A musical reflection – “Sargent Mackenzie”

Original Scottish Version

Lay me doon in the caul caul groon
Whaur afore monie mair huv gaun
Lay me doon in the caul caul groon
Whaur afore monie mair huv gaun

When they come a wull staun ma groon
Staun ma groon al nae be afraid

Thoughts awe hame tak awa ma fear
Sweat an bluid hide ma veil awe tears

Ains a year say a prayer faur me
Close yir een an remember me

Nair mair shall a see the sun
For a fell tae a Germans gun

Lay me doon in the caul caul groon
Whaur afore monie mair huv gaun

Lay me doon in the caul caul groon
Whaur afore monie mair huv gaun

Whaur afore monie mair huv gaun

English Translation

Lay me down in the cold cold ground
Where before many more have gone
Lay me down in the cold cold ground
Where before many more have gone

When they come I will stand my ground
Stand my ground I’ll not be afraid

Thoughts of home take away my fear
Sweat and blood hide my veil of tears

Once a year say a prayer for me
Close your eyes and remember me

Never more shall I see the sun
For I fell to a Germans gun

Lay me down in the cold cold ground
Where before many more have gone
Lay me down in the cold cold ground
Where before many more have gone

Where before many more have gone.

A Labor Day Message

5 September 2011 - By

From the Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis:

Not getting better, and where to cut

6 February 2011 - By

From a report of the Congressional Budget Office: CBO Reports Record Deficits For 2011 Along With Slow Job Growth

The report will likely accelerate calls by Congress to reduce spending for the remainder of fiscal 2011, which began on November 1. The House Majority, in the coming weeks, will consider a cut of at least $55 to $60 billion from fiscal 2011, bringing non-discretionary spending in line with fiscal 2008 levels. While certain spending cuts are a wise conservation of resources (cut military spending, get out of foreign wars, stop extravagant support of nations like Israel, cut back Homeland Security to reduce the overwrought sense of fear imposed on most Americans), spending on support like unemployment insurance as a bridge, and job retraining, are a wise investment. We have need new competitiveness, and these sorts of initiatives will only make us stronger. Of course, we could just send the unemployed off to foreign lands — and reduce the surplus population.

Deficit: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected the deficit for fiscal year 2011, will be almost $1.5 trillion, or 9.8 percent of the gross domestic product, up from $1.29 trillion in 2010.Employment Outlook:

Jobs Recovery Slower than Past Recessions: CBO said the recovery in jobs has been much slower in this recession than after past recessions and it predicted economic growth will remain “below potential” for several more years.

Hiring Slowed by Changes in the Economy: CBO said payroll employment, which plunged by 7.3 million during the recent recession, rose by only 70,000 jobs, on net, between June 2009 and December 2010. “The recovery in employment has been slowed not only by the slow growth in output, but also by structural changes in the labor market, such as a mismatch between the requirements of available jobs and the skills of job seekers,” the report said.

Employment Will Not Recover Until 2016: CBO expects the economy to add about 2.5 million jobs a year from 2011 to 2016. However, it cautioned, “Even with significant increases in the number of jobs, a substantial reduction in the unemployment rate will take some time.” The unemployment rate should fall to 9.2 percent by the end of 2011, 8.2 percent by the end of 2012, and 7.4 percent by the end of 2013 – reaching 5.3 percent only in 2016, according to CBO’s forecast.

Other reports worth noting from the Congressional Research Service:

Giving thanks for a helping hand

2 January 2011 - By

From the Los Angeles Times via the Press Democrat: Man repays jobless benefits, 46 years later

LOS ANGELES — California’s budget crisis has eased a bit, thanks to a South Carolina man grateful to the state for helping him 46 years ago.

Dennis R. Ferguson wrote a check for $10,000 to the state treasury Nov. 23 as “repayment for what California did for me” when he was laid off from his aerospace engineering job in 1964.

Ferguson, a 74-year-old retired computer programmer who lives in the Atlantic coastal community of Fripp Island, S.C., said the four months’ worth of unemployment benefits he collected after losing his job with Douglas Aircraft allowed him to re-train for a new career in computers.

State Treasurer Bill Lockyer said Ferguson’s money will be spent on schools, as required by state law.

That’s appropriate, Lockyer said, “because there’s a lesson to be learned here about what it means to have a sense of shared sacrifice and commitment to the common good.”

Ferguson was 26 and living in a rundown, $25-a-week West Los Angeles motel when he collected state aid. Officials of the state Employment Development Department estimate that his total benefits during the four months totaled about $1,100.

Ferguson said he wanted to show his appreciation for the assistance by adding “interest” to his repayment. He said he picked $10,000 because it is a “nice round number.”

“Anyone who is helped out when they are down ought to give something back, especially now that California has budget problems,” he told state officials.

The jobless benefits helped him go back to school, Ferguson said. He enrolled in computer programming at the now-defunct International Tabulating Institute in Los Angeles.

According to Ferguson, the school had one IBM 1440 series computer with 4K of memory that was shared by 10 students. That room-size data processor sold for $90,000 at the time.

But Ferguson learned programming on it, creating 21 programs during the three-month class. He earned an A grade and a certificate of completion.

After that, Ferguson went to work as a computer operator for Belmont Savings and Loan in Seal Beach. A year later, he landed a better-paying job as a programmer at Honeywell in Los Angeles.

Later, Ferguson worked in the Atlanta area before settling in South Carolina.

In the note to Sacramento officials that accompanied his check, Ferguson thanked the state for letting him collect unemployment while studying at the storefront computer institute.

“This allowed me to have a great career, and I’ve been ever thankful,” he wrote.

Tom Dresslar, a spokesman for the state treasurer’s office, said Thursday that Ferguson’s check cleared and has been deposited in the public schools fund.

In a statement, Lockyer expressed his appreciation of Ferguson’s gift.

“I hope that as we work together to meet our budget challenges, we keep in mind his act of generosity and the spirit it embodies,” he said.

Reading this story, I was impressed by the real difference a helping hand can make, and the beauty of Mr. Ferguson’s attitude of thankfulness. He provides an excellent example of gentlemanly/gentle-womanly conduct. May he be blessed for his thankfulness.

Thanks to those supporting the unemployed, still more to do

18 December 2010 - By

Several days ago, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a tax compromise measure that includes a 13-month reauthorization of the federal unemployment insurance programs. The bill, which passed the Senate Wednesday, was signed into law by President Obama on Friday, December 17th.

After a 16-day lapse of crucial federal benefits, which had expired at the beginning of the holiday season, millions of current and future long-term unemployed workers can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that benefits will be restored and the program will be in place for the entirety of 2011.

With the reauthorization made retroactive to December 1, 2010, those whose benefits had lapsed will have them restored. And millions of unemployed workers and their families will have the basic security of knowing these benefits are available for between 34 and 73 weeks if needed, beyond the 26 weeks of regular state-funded unemployment insurance. Workers who had already been eligible for additional federal benefits will have those benefits available once more. Those workers who have been receiving regular state benefits will have the security of knowing that extended federal benefits are available to help sustain them during their job searches should they still lack new employment after six months of looking for work.

The legislation also includes significant improvements to the Extended Benefits program, which provides the final 13 to 20 weeks of federally-funded unemployment benefits—thereby averting severe benefit cuts that would have hit nearly half the states with the highest unemployment rates. These states would have dropped off the EB program due to a provision requiring a state’s unemployment rate to have increased over the past two years in order for the state to remain eligible for the program. Currently, 977,000 workers are receiving extended benefits.

The legislation also creates an opportunity for an additional ten states—Arkansas, Iowa, Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming—to add the EB benefit into the support package they offer to jobless workers, if they pass state legislation.

These benefits produce a real stimulus affect since the money is spent on basic needs like housing, food, and clothes. UI benefits are a tremendous benefit to local economies. For every dollar spent on unemployment benefits, two dollars are generated in return to our economy.

Much more is needed to address the jobs crisis, however. Our economy is in deep trouble: We have fewer jobs today than ten years ago, the unemployment rate has remained above nine percent for 19 months, and most recently, unemployment rose while job growth slowed. An economy that is not adding enough new jobs to bring down a 9.8 percent unemployment rate is in need of serious new initiatives to create more good jobs. The fact that a key argument favoring extended unemployment benefits is their significant stimulative effect is indicative of the fragile state of the economic recovery. Moreover, growing numbers of long-term jobless workers are exhausting all available benefits. Policies to help address the needs of those exhausting all benefits need to be pursued alongside effective job-creation and workforce re-entry initiatives.

Our nation faces many serious challenges in the months and years ahead, but none is more vexing or crucial than the question of how we will rebuild an economy with good jobs that restore the promise of opportunity and economic security to working families in every corner of America. Winning the full-year continuation of the federal unemployment insurance programs was an important first step: It will help sustain millions of unemployed job-seekers, give a boost to the economy, and provide the space and time needed to focus on additional efforts to build a sustained jobs recovery.

For more information visit the New York State Department of Labor and Unemployedworkers, a project of the National Employment Law Project.

Thanksgiving 2010

24 November 2010 - By

We give Thee our most humble and hearty thanks, O God, for blessings without number which we have received from Thee, for all Thy goodness and loving kindness, for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life. And, we beseech Thee, give us that due sense of all Thy mercies, that our hearts may be truly thankful for all things, and that we show forth Thy praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up ourselves to Thy service and by walking before Thee in holiness and righteousness all our days. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. — A General Thanksgiving – from A Book of Devotions and Prayers According to the Use of the Polish National Catholic Church, Published by the Mission Fund of the PNCC, 7th edition, May 1, 1984.

John Guzlowski posted a poem for Thanksgiving at Lightning and Ashes. It begins:

My people were all poor people,
the ones who survived to look
in my eyes and touch my fingers
and those who didn’t, dying instead

of fever or hunger or a bullet
in the face, dying maybe thinking
of how their deaths were balanced
by my birth or one of the other

stories the poor tell themselves
to give themselves the strength
to crawl out of their own graves.

It is stark, and fitted to our times.

From CNN: More Americans filing for unemployment

The number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits rose by 2,000 in the latest week, pointing to continued weakness in the job market, the government reported Thursday.

The number of initial filings rose to 439,000 in the week ended Nov. 13, the Labor Department said. The number was slightly better than the 442,000 economists surveyed by had expected, but higher than the revised 437,000 initial claims filed the week before.

Overall, the weekly number has been treading water since last November, hovering in the mid to upper 400,000s and even ticking slightly above 500,000 in mid-August.

Economists often say the number needs to fall below 400,000, before the stubbornly high unemployment rate can start dropping significantly…

While Congress (various sources): Fails To Extend UI Benefits – Program Faces Lapse By November 30

On November 18th, the House of Representative failed to pass a three month extension of emergency unemployment benefits (EUC08) setting up the possibility the program will lapse once again on November 30.

Plunging over 2 million people into hopeless economic uncertainty. No lifeline, no paycheck, no jobs — nothing by which they might feed their families, pay for housing, or sustain themselves till the one job for every five people becomes theirs.

The hope for that happening is slim, at least for 6 years at the best estimate. From Money Morning via NuWire: Pre-Recession Unemployment Rates Won’t Be Seen Until At Least 2016

Stocks are up nearly 70% from their bear market lows. Corporate profits are rising. And the economy is expanding. Yet the unemployment rate continues to hover around 10%.

Neither President Barack Obama’s $787 billion stimulus program, nor the U.S. Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing has generated enough good news to convince companies to hire meaningful numbers of new workers.

Of the 8.7 million people who lost their jobs during the recession, more than 7.3 million are still without work. There are still nearly five job seekers for every job opening. In fact, adding in workers who are working part time but looking for full-time work and those who have given up looking all together brings the “real” unemployment rate to a staggering 17% compared to 16.5% last year, the latest government report shows.

And even though private sector payrolls increased by 151,000 in October – bringing the number of jobs created since the economy bottomed in December 2009 to 1.1 million -the share of the population working or looking for work declined to 64.5%, its lowest level since 1984.

The Great Recession has spawned some truly unique – and ugly – economic offspring. But one trend has emerged that sets it apart from most economic downturns: the swelling ranks of the long-term unemployed.

The number of people who’ve been collecting unemployment benefits for at least six months increased by more than 100% in 40 states over the last two years, according to an analysis of unemployment insurance data compiled by National Employment Law Project (NELP).

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) stood at 6.2 million in October. Those folks now account for 41.8% of the 14.8 million unemployed workers in the country.

“Long term unemployment is more than ever the norm of a layoff , and it’s across the country and across the economy that this is happening,” Andrew Stettner of NELP told the Huffington Post.

The reality of long-term unemployment is even worse than the numbers suggest.

“This is certainly a crisis of huge proportion and it is reflected in an extraordinary number of people unemployed for a very long time,” wrote Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute, in an email to the HuffPost. “It’s even worse than that because we’re seeing a large withdrawal from the job market and one can assume that this is among those who have been unemployed a long time — giving up.”

This trend is important because long-term unemployment feeds on itself.

There are a series of consequences that follow long-term unemployed workers far into the future. Job skills deteriorate, job networks disappear, and workers lose hope. The longer a worker is unemployed the less likely he or she is to find a new job and the more likely it is they will find only a lower-paying job.

“People lose job skills, they become unemployable,” said Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. “It becomes a real long-term problem. People in their late 40s and 50s who end up out of work for long periods of time may drop out of the work force and never get another regular job.”

There are also other – less obvious – consequences of long-term unemployment. According to recent research, job displacement can lead to significant reductions in life expectancy . Other research shows that the children of these workers earn less when they become adults and enter the labor force.

The specter of long-term unemployment will sustain the unemployment rate as the skills of idled workers deteriorate and segments of the labor force are compelled to retrain or move out of the areas of the country that were propped up by the housing bubble. The likely result is that the unemployment rate will fall at only a gradual pace.

To determine how long the recovery will take this time, the Brookings Institution recently examined the “job gap,” or the number of months it would take to get back to pre-recession employment levels while absorbing the 125,000 people who enter the labor force each month.

The results show that even under the most optimistic scenarios, it will take years to eliminate the job gap.

If the economy adds about 208,000 jobs per month, the average monthly rate for the best year of job creation in the 2000s, it will take 142 months, or about 12 years to close the job gap.

At a more optimistic rate of 321,000 jobs per month, the average monthly rate for the best year of the 1990s, the economy will reach pre-recession employment levels in 60 months, or about 5 years.

Here’s the takeaway: Based on the history, pre-recession unemployment rates won’t be seen again until at least 2016, and in all probability much later, as idled workers find it harder and harder to land jobs.

Also, if you are unemployed, certain elitist, undereducated, and reactionary segments of society cast the blame squarely on your shoulders. They think you’re banking the money for a lavish vacation and a grope from your local TSA agent. Of course reality is different, one job for every five workers, and that UI benefit money gets spent on the basic needs of life, preventing a horrific dip into poverty. Per the Congressional Budget Office in Unemployment Insurance Benefits and Family Income of the Unemployed [PDF]

  • Almost half of families in which at least one person was unemployed received income from UI in 2009. In 2009, the median contribution of UI benefits to the income of families that received those benefits was $6,000, accounting for 11 percent of their family income that year.
  • Without the financial support provided to families by UI benefits and under an assumption of no change in employment or other sources of income associated with the absence of that support, the poverty rate and related indicators of financial hardship would have been higher in 2009 than they actually were. For instance, in 2009 the poverty rate was 14.3 percent, whereas without UI benefits and with no behavioral responses taken into account, it would have been 15.4 percent.

But who cares about studies and research when we are simply angered because our neighbor is in need. Not too long ago we would have invited that family in. We would have fed and clothed them (Matthew 25:40). Now, who cares! Not businesses like Giant Food, the Thanksgiving Grinch, because someone may be slowed on the way to the cash register.

For many of us, it’s a Thanksgiving tradition to drop a few coins in the Salvation Army’s red kettle outside our local grocery.

It’s quick, easy, and has real impact – last year, more than $139 million was raised by red kettles to provide services ranging from hot meals to warm beds for homeless and impoverished Americans.

This year the need is greater than ever, with more than 44 million Americans on food stamps. But because of the objection of a large grocery store chain, the residents of poverty-stricken Washington, D.C. are at risk of going without essential holiday services.

Giant Food, a major supermarket chain in Washington D.C. and several surrounding states, just issued new regulations severely limiting red kettle fundraisers. Why? “In order to best serve our customers, and not hinder their shopping experience,” a Giant Food representative said in a statement.

Donating to the needy might not be at the top of everyone’s shopping list, but that’s why physical reminders of the importance of giving are needed. Caught up in the commotion of our own lives, we can all use help overcoming the distractions and indifference that prevents us from helping to alleviate suffering in our communities.

Tell Giant to offer more than a bargain, but hope as well. Tell Congress to actually do something for the long term unemployed, that is, other than posturing.

Oh, and if you are working; watch over your shoulder because employers are stealing their worker wages at an alarming rate. From the Albany Times Union: Wages belong to the workers

In New York City alone, a study by the National Employment Law Project earlier this year found that 21 percent of low-wage workers are paid less than the minimum wage, 77 percent weren’t paid time-and-a-half when they worked overtime, and 69 percent didn’t receive any pay at all when they came in early or stayed late after their shift.

We’re talking about the jobs that literally make our economy run — home care and child care workers, dishwashers, food prep workers, construction workers, cashiers, laundry workers, garment workers, security guards and janitors. Hundreds of thousands of them aren’t getting even the most basic protections that the rest of us take for granted.

And make no mistake, the problem isn’t going away: These types of jobs account for eight out of the top 10 occupations projected to grow the most by 2018.

Wage theft in New York is not incidental, aberrant or rare, committed by a few rogue employers. Over the last two years, the state Department of Labor has brought cases against restaurants in Ithaca, a printer in Albany, horse trainers at the Saratoga Race Course, hotels in Lake George and car washes across the state. Altogether, the agency recovered $28.8 million in stolen wages for nearly 18,000 New Yorkers in 2009 — the largest amount ever. That’s a valiant effort to be sure, but still not nearly enough to match the scale of the problem…when workers made a complaint to their employer or government agency, 42 percent experienced illegal retaliation — such as being fired or having their wages or hours cut. That is enough to discourage even the most committed worker from filing a wage theft claim.

[And r]ight now, it’s all too common that a worker successfully brings a wage theft claim, only to see the employer declare bankruptcy, leave town, close shop or otherwise evade paying up… In New York City alone, more than 300,000 workers are robbed of $18.4 million every week, totaling close to $1 billion a year. Extrapolate that to the state level, and you get a staggering amount of potential stimulus that’s being taken out of the pockets of working families and local businesses, and state coffers.

Even in good times, fighting wage theft is smart policy. In a recession, it’s such a no-brainer…

Our call as people of faith is to bring hope, to give hope, to recall in the minds of our brothers and sisters that all we have, even our poverty, is from the Lord, and to take action. We must remind all that God is about freedom and justice, not subservience and pain, and show our solidarity with those thrust into poverty, hopelessness, joblessness, or who have their daily bread stolen out of their hands.

Today, the struggles are growing closer to those of 125 years ago. Our people no longer look to bright hope in tomorrow, but the hunger pains to come tomorrow. They are falling into a grave out of which they might not crawl.

As opposed to purveyors of the success gospel, or the gospel of monarchies of every type, we are aware our hard scrabble, blue collar background. Our Holy Church, the PNCC, gave hope to working men and women when all that was offered them were days of back breaking labor for little in wages and the company store. When their Churches were joined at the hip with the ruling classes and the government bureaucracy, we stood by their side on the picket line. What we offered then was education, literature, a better future, lived ideals based on God’s closeness to man, an expression of the freedom these men and women had as Americans. We showed them that they could join together in Unions, that they could worship God in truth and freedom. We taught them about our God who desires deeply to be joined to men and women in their lives, who communes with them in their work and struggle. Our God wants more than a fractional share of our pennies for others to administer, but true thanks from a free people joined to Him.

The hope of Jesus Christ, His peace, His presence, His justice, His tomorrow are more necessary than ever. Let us as a Church stand up and show the hope that is more than social services, more than mere charity and political posturing; the Church that is the hope of eternity, the hope of freedom and justice for a free people joined to Jesus Christ our brother. God stands with us. Let us give Him thanks and more — our action.

Jobs scarce, where will the unemployed turn?

16 November 2010 - By

The US Department of Labor is reporting that competition for jobs, while improving, remains intense. At the end of September, there were five people looking for work for every job opening, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover (JOLT) Survey released by the U.S. Department of Labor. This number has been gradually decreasing since the end of the recession. Competition for jobs has eased slightly since the end of last year, when there were more than six unemployed people for every job opening. When the recession ended there were 5.8 people searching for jobs for every job opening. However, when the recession began in 2007, there were only 1.8 job-seekers for every job opening.

The Economic Policy Institute, commenting on the JOLT survey, reports that:

The total number of job openings in September was 2.9 million, while the total number of unemployed workers was 14.8 million … This means that the ratio of unemployed workers to job openings was 5.0-to-1 in September, an increase from the revised August ratio of 4.8-to-1. The job-seekers ratio is displaying a similar trend to other labor market data – substantial improvements from late 2009 to the spring of 2010, and then stalling out what are still crisis levels. September’s value, at 5-to-1, is over three times as high as the first half of 2007, when the ratio averaged 1.5-to-1.

It is important to note that the job-seekers ratio does not measure the number of applicants for each job. There may be throngs of applicants for every job posting, since job seekers apply for multiple jobs. Instead, the 5-to-1 ratio means that for every five unemployed workers, there is only one job available — or for every four out of five unemployed workers, there simply are no jobs. Furthermore, when calculating the ratio of job seekers to job openings, if we were to include not just the 14.8 million unemployed workers, but also the 9.5 million “involuntarily part-time” workers (part-time workers who want and are available for a full-time job, and are therefore likely job searching), the ratio would be 8.3-to-1.

In the current environment it is essentially important that we shore up the support for those ready, willing, and able to work. This is the exact support that the workers in the United States need. If Congress fails to continue the extensions in the unemployment programs, 2 million people will be left with no income in December alone, just in time for Christmas. Over the following four months there will be up to 6 million people without job opportunities and without income. They will not be paying rent, taxes, or shopping in local businesses. They will become a drain on already overtaxed state welfare systems, and more people will loose jobs because of the ripple effect this loss of income will have — up to 700,000 more people losing their jobs!

Contact Congress today and urge continuation and further extension of benefits for the very people who want a job, not a hand-out.



…and the rest

June 2015
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