Report: Long-term Hardship in the Labor Market

Mar 12 2012

From the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR):

Overall unemployment has ticked down slightly from the peaks of the recession, but long-term unemployment remains historically high, threatening the long-term economic security of workers and the country as a whole. A new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research sheds light on the demographics of the millions of workers struggling with unemployment and under-employment.

 “Long-term Hardship in the Labor Market” breaks out workers considered long-term unemployed by the official BLS standard according to race and gender, education, and age. The authors also expand the conventional concept of long-term unemployment and capture further dimensions of long-term hardship including discouraged workers, workers marginally attached to the workforce, and workers who are part-time for economic reasons.

Opinon: Responding to the NY Times: Is the safety-net expanding?

Feb 15 2012

Recently, The New York Times published a front-page feature entitled Even Critics of Safety Net Increasingly Depend on It. by Binyamin Appelbaum and Robert Gebeloff.

The piece has drawn several thoughtful responses by economists, discussing the state of social programs and the ability of such programs to assist in times of need.

No, NYT, there’s been no expansion of government benefits, no ‘entitlement society’
By Lawrence Mishel, Economic Policy Institute

"I want to strongly object to one part of the story that seems to support the notion that we’re becoming an “entitlement society.” The story claims that there’s been a major “expansion of government benefits,” which it says “has become an issue in the presidential campaign.” ... Many of the facts presented in the story do not support that conclusion and the ones that do seem to support it are misleading." Read more.

What Expanded Safety Net?
By James Kwak, The Baseline Scenario

"In general, I think Binyamin Appelbaum and Robert Gebeloff’s article on how the same people oppose government handouts and take government handouts is very good. But I think their framing buys into a piece of conventional wisdom that just isn’t true." Read more.

Graphs: Everything We Know About the Long-Term Unemployed

Feb 7 2012

By Derek Thompson
From The Atlantic

Understanding this chart: I'm tracking the growth in unemployment by DURATION with the shortest-term unemployed in orange at the bottom, and the long-term unemployed in blue at the top. I've indexed all numbers to begin at 100 in January 2007. Takeaway 1: People unemployed for 15-26 weeks (red) have doubled. Takeaway 2: People unemployed for 27 weeks and over have quadrupled.

See that graph? Click it. Print it. Tape it to your wall, and maybe give it some lamination. This is what the tragedy of long-term unemployment looks like, with the blue line tracking the quadrupling of those unemployed six months or longer.

Paper: No Fault of Her Own: Redressing Family Responsibilities Discrimination in the State Unemployment Compensation Systems

Jan 31 2012

By Carolyn McConnell, UW School of Law
From CCH Labor Law Journal, Vol. 62, No. 3, Fall 2011

Abstract: From the creation of UI to the present, women have received unemployment benefits at lower rates than men. In some states, men’s rate of receipt of unemployment benefits is 20 percent higher than women’s. Why is this?

One fundamental reason is that UI places structural hurdles in the way of claimants with family caregiving responsibilities. With women disproportionately assigned the work of family caregiving, this disproportionately excludes women from unemployment benefits. Yet women now make up a near-majority of the workforce and most mothers are in the paid workforce. This is one reason why the percentage of those out of work who receive unemployment compensation has fallen dramatically in recent decades, threatening UI’s ability to achieve its twin goals of protecting workers from involuntary unemployment and cushioning the economy against downturns. In the current recession (officially over but with no end in sight for millions of the un- and underemployed), this problem is urgent.

This paper focuses on how the state unemployment systems discriminate against caregivers in their definitions of good cause and availability and offers model statutory provisions to remedy this. Reforming UI would preserve its effectiveness. Yet it would also do much more, helping to reconfigure the American workplace to accommodate caregivers. This analysis of the UI system illuminates the workplace structures that systematically disadvantage caregivers and offers concrete policy suggestions for transforming them.

Access the full article on-line here.

Opinion: Unemployment Insurance Under the Knife

Jan 25 2012

By Kate Kahan and George Wentworth
From The Nation:
The Great Recession officially began four years ago December, and although we may be in the third year of recovery, for more than 13 million Americans without jobs it doesn’t much feel like a recovery. Even as the national unemployment rate inches down below 9 percent, the massive job hemorrhaging that began in 2008 has left a legacy of widespread suffering. Of the 8.7 million jobs lost since December 2007, fewer than 2.5 million have been recovered. With population growth factored in, we are 10.9 million jobs short of what we need to get the nation back to pre-recession levels, when the unemployment rate was
5 percent.
Perhaps the most striking feature of this economic catastrophe is the nation’s continuing crisis of long-term unemployment. There are 5.7 million workers who have been unemployed more than six months—an unprecedented
43 percent of all jobless workers. Even more alarming is that a third of the unemployed have been unable to find work for a year or more. The average duration of unemployment is at a record level: 40.9 weeks.

Opinion: A Proud, Angry Poor

Jan 25 2012

By Frances Fox Piven
From The Nation:
Occupy Wall Street has thrust the issue of extreme inequality into the spotlight. The movement has spread so quickly and alarmed politicians not because of its rather small encampments but because its message resonates. Most people know, or at least half-know, that our problem is growing inequality, and they also know that government is complicit in the financially driven capitalism that is in the driver’s seat. The slogan “We are the 99 percent” stresses our commonality and lays the basis for a movement ethic of democracy, inclusion and solidarity. This is a big and welcome step. After all, we need an ethic that goes beyond the incessant liberal (and union) talk of “the middle class.”
Still, the movement has to respond to the police sweeps of its encampments by becoming broader and more hard-hitting. It has to firmly include the vast number of people who have been marginalized by the rhetoric of American politics and by the realities of the American economy. In many places the homeless have joined the encampments. That is a beginning. But it’s not enough. To fully realize an ethic of inclusion, the poorest and most benighted Americans should become part of our protest movement. We need to increase their numbers at our demonstrations, and we need to undertake the protest actions that deal with their most urgent needs—including the attacks on the social safety net that hit them hardest.

Opinion: In Dr. King's America the Unemployed Deserve Simple Human Dignity

Jan 17 2012

By Rabbi Steve Gutow
From The Huffington Post:
As our Congress members return to Washington to resume the debate on helping the unemployed just weeks before that extension expires, I hope they find great inspiration from this week's holiday honoring Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.
Reverend King's legacy does not belong to just one epoch. Just as the lessons of Moses have taught the generations that followed, the teachings of Martin Luther King inspire us today as they did decades ago when he delivered his holy words. The striking monument only recently unveiled on the National Mall is lined with quotes that exhort us to be driven by justice, tireless and unwavering in pursuit of a better world. They remind us that King's calls for justice were universal, including economic justice. "I have the audacity to believe," reads one inscription, "that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits."

Report: Official Estimates Underestimate Long-term Unemployment

Jan 12 2012

From the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR):

WASHINGTON - January 5 - The Great Recession pushed the share of the long-term unemployed (defined as being unemployed more than 6 months) to over 40 percent throughout 2010 and 2011.  But, a new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research shows that this standard measure estimate understates the extent of long-term hardship in the U.S. labor market.

"Long-term unemployment rates have been at unprecedented levels for two years now, but the full group facing long-term hardship in the labor market is likely to be at least twice as high as the official figure," said John Schmitt, a co-author of the paper and a senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

The report, “Down and Out: Measuring Long-term Hardship in the Labor Market,” proposes a broader definition of long-term unemployment that encompasses the underemployed and those workers experiencing long-term hardship in the labor market.

Graphs: Job Loss Since World War II

Jan 12 2012

The economics blog Calculated Risk has posted several graphs that place the job losses in the current downturn in historic perspective - in a very striking way.

Report: Working Women Falling Behind in WA

Dec 28 2011

From the Washington News Service:

SEATTLE – For women in the workforce in Washington, 2011 could be summarized as a year of treading water – or even sinking a bit. According to a new report, women’s wages and benefits in the Evergreen State continue to lag behind those of men. Even in the same job and age range and with similar education, a woman’s average monthly pay is 63 percent of what a man earns per month.

When the recession began, men were laid off at a faster pace than women. But Tatsuko Go Hollo, policy associate with the Economic Opportunity Institute (EOI), says now that the recovery is officially under way, that trend has reversed.