A tribute to the 99ers: We are not invisible.

Monday, December 6, 2010

More of the same.

It appears Congress and the White House have reached a compromise on extending expiring tax cuts that would includes funding current unemployment extensions for 13 additional months. 99ers will be left to fend for themselves.  Why have the 99ers been abandoned by everyone except Ed Schultz?

To understand the predicament of the long term unemployed during the Great Depression of the 21st Century, it's important to review some pertinent facts:

1. The unemployment rate is somewhere between 9.8% and higher. That makes the employment rate 77% or higher. It is very hard for the 77% employed to fathom why anyone is involuntarily unemployed for greater than 99 weeks, even in a weak economy.

2. The current model of issuing unemployment benefits via "weeks" is inadequate given current economic conditions. With five seekers for each job and an unemployment rate predicted to hover above 8% through 2012, a safety net for the unemployed should be tied to the unemployment rate.  Benefits should continue until the unemployment rate is down to 'X' not an arbitrary designation of weeks.  Unfortunately no one will commit to structuring unemployment insurance accordingly.

3. The argument in favor of adding a TierV has too often been made from the POV of the 99ers. (These people need the safety net to survive.) Unemployment advocates (I include myself) should have jumped on the Republican meme that small businesses are the primary creators of jobs.  The success of small business depends more on demand than tax cuts. Therefore it is vital that the unemployed have a minimal amount of money to support these small businesses.

What is left to do? The aforementioned compromise has not net been voted on in Congress.  Now, more than ever is the time to bombard elected officials. It is also important for all unemployed to stick together. Given the statistics above there are going to be more 99ers each week. Attrition (death and  homelessness) will reduce the amount of 99ers but not nearly by the numbers joining the ranks of the 99ers.  Eventually, something will be done. I am hoping for the best.

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