Archive for the ‘Government CAN Help!’ Category

New Resource: “Unemployment Insurance Basics” Now Complete

The “Unemployment Insurance Basics” page is now complete. Its link will remain in the Resources section up top, plus in the Pages section to the right.


Why Washington Doesn’t Act to Create Jobs

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman writes this week, in “Rule by Rentiers,” that all the hoopla in Washington about the U.S. debt is a smokescreen for policies favoring the usual suspects: bankers and their wealthy bondholders. Krugman calls their Washington representatives the Pain Caucus.

Those policies amount to Cuts, Cuts, and More Cuts, and Krugman says they are not just ignoring the plight of the unemployed but are crippling the entire economy.

The Pain Caucus puts up other smokescreens too, Krugman says: interest rates (which are near-zero), inflation, deficit spending, etc., etc. “Members of the Pain Caucus seem to be making it up as they go along, inventing ever-changing rationales for their never-changing policy prescriptions.”

How did the Pain Caucus come to represent the wealthy elite instead of We the People?

image of moneyKrugman explains: “The process of influence doesn’t have to involve raw corruption (although that happens, too). All it requires is the tendency to assume that what’s good for the people you hang out with, the people who seem so impressive in meetings — hey, they’re rich, they’re smart, and they have great tailors — must be good for the economy as a whole.”

In the minority are members of the Senate and House who have enough integrity to fight for Main Street – to argue against the painful spending cuts in unemployment insurance and other safety-net programs, against privatizing Medicare and Social Security, and for cutting huge subsidies and tax loopholes for global corporations, and for federal programs to create new jobs and offer real foreclosure relief.

These few senators and representatives with integrity do more than just talk, they put their votes where their mouths are. So pay attention to your senator and representatives – not just their talk but especially their votes. You can follow their votes on the Washington Post’s U.S. Congress Votes Database.

And when you vote, remember who was on Main Street’s side, and who voted with the Pain Caucus.

The “99 Club”: 1 Million and Counting

Many thanks to statistics geek and retired guy Arsen Darnay for digging up this gem from a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) commissioner’s presentation in January 2011. It shows what’s hard to find anywhere else: an estimate of how many people have been unemployed for 99 weeks or longer.

The significance of “99 weeks” is this: Even if you qualify for every (temporary) extension of Unemployment Insurance Congress has provided during the Great Recession – a big “if” – you cannot get benefits for more than 99 weeks altogether on one stretch. The first batch of “99ers” began to reach that limit and run out of benefits last year; since then, the club has grown each week – but the BLS hasn’t publicized their statistics.

Enter Arsen Darnay to the rescue. It took some doing, but he managed to find this presentation buried somewhere in the BLS Web site. It shows that, as of December 2010 (or thereabouts), more than 1 million people have been unemployed for 99 weeks or longer.

It’s a club no one wants to belong to.

Unemployment chart

Long-term Unemployment Averages, 1980-2010

Arsen Darnay’s site – old and new – have many more quirky and insightful things to say about the state of the economy and the people.

Time Magazine’s Recession Stories

Emily McMillan, unemployed worker

Emily McMillan / Photo by Zach Wolfe for Time

Time Magazine has a special report online called Out of Work in America, which profiles 16 jobless workers and how they’re coping with the prospect of long-term unemployment. Emily McMillan (left) has been out of work since August 2010 and is now pregnant. Luckily, her husband still has a good job, but his income alone is not enough to invest in a new house. (Note: The special report is undated, but clues indicate it was published in fall 2010.)

In a separate story, published May 23, Time reports on a growing trend of discrimination against the unemployed, quoting a Sony Eriksson online job posting that said, “No unemployed candidates will be considered at all.” The U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission is investigating this trend, and few employers have been so blatant, but so far, the practice is not illegal.

New Poll Reveals What We All Agree On

With so much rancor and divisiveness coming out of Washington over the budget, the deficit, the debt, health care – pretty much everything – the latest New York Times/CBS News poll reveals, once again, that We the People are in surprising agreement, or near agreement, on many of these very issues – Republican, Democrat, and Independent. Surprising, because there is no talk of agreement on any of these issues in Washington; only polarized disagreement – which means we are not being properly represented by our representative government.

Not so surprisingly, in general we do not have much faith in the way the Obama administration or the Republican leadership is handling the economy or the budget deficit – and that the nation is “off on the wrong track.”

Here are the issues we agree on – that is, all three groups polled at greater than 50 percent:

  • Providing health care coverage for the elderly is the responsibility of the federal government.
  • To reduce the deficit, we approve raising taxes starting in 2013 for households earning $250,000 a year or more.
These are good starting points. Let’s get on with it.

New York Times/CBS News Poll

Job Hunters Boot Camp: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

On April 8, Rep. Jackie Speier sponsored her fifth Job Hunters Boot Camp – three last year and two so far this year. Although I live outsider her district in the San Francisco Bay Area, I attended as a member of the press because of this blog. In contrast to standard job fairs, the Boot Camp is focused on workshops and one-on-one counseling, all of which were excellent. Seven hundred people came, along with more than two dozen employers and more than a dozen resource organizations. And everyone was treated to a free lunch!

I was able to go to only one workshop, for mature workers – which was excellent, and which I will report on later – but the others sounded great too, with lots of hard-to-find “insider” information, to judge from this video posted by Rep. Speier’s office, below. After watching the video, scroll below the video for a list of employers and the agenda for this event. And then bring this post to your own congressperson and ask him or her to do the same for job seekers in your district!

Here are the employers that had tables at the April 8 event:

  1. Allied Barton Security
  2. Aragen BioScience
  3. Astound Broadband
  4. Bristlecone
  5. Citibank
  6. Con-Way/Menlo Worldwide
  7. CBP/Dept of Homeland Security
  8. Facebook
  9. Franklin Templeton
  10. Granite Rock
  11. Intuit
  12. Joie De Vivre Hospitality
  13. Kaiser Permanente
  14. Menlo Worldwide
  15. Microsoft
  16. Labs Support, a Division of On Assignment
  17. Oracle
  18. Patelco Credit Union
  19. San Mateo Daily Journal
  20. Sanmina Manufacturing
  21. SAphotonics
  22. SFO
  23. Silver Spring Networks
  24. Solazyme
  25. Southwest Airlines
  26. Tethys Bioscience
  27. Universal Protection
  28. Virgin America

Here is the program:

  • 9:30 a.m. Attendees arrive, event opens
  • 10:00 a.m. Welcome remarks (Chancellor, Congresswoman, Presenters) in the main hall area of “College Center” Building
  • 10:30 a.m. Workshops Begin (All classrooms located in College Center Building 10, downstairs, outside entrances on all classrooms)
    • Room 10-191: “LinkedIn Part I: Successful Profiles” with Jenny Kahn (10:30-11:15 a.m.) and “LinkedIn Part II: Beyond the Basics” with Jenny Kahn (11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m.)
    • Room 10-192: “Veterans: Operation Career” with Karen Colligan, Anthony Flores, Leslie Flowers and Bobbie LaPorte (10:30-12:30)
    • Room 10-193: “Choosing Greater Good: Finding Motivation in the Face of Uncertainty” with Jeff Bell (10:30 a.m.-12:00 noon)
    • Room 10-194: “Communicating Power: Gaining an Edge in Your Job Search” with David Woodward (10:30 a.m. to 12 noon)
    • Room 10-195: “Strategies for the Mature Job Seeker” with Camille Grabowski 10:30 a.m.-12:00 noon
    • Main Hall, North East corner: “Speed Networking” Activity with Rebecca Kieler and Joan Tabb (10:30-11:15)
  • 12:15-12:45 p.m. Lunch break. Lunch provided for ALL attendees, presenters, and volunteers in main hall café
  • 12:45-2:30 p.m. Workshops and Employer Panels
    • Room 10-191: “Veterans: Embracing Transition” with Ivan Temes (12:45-1:30 p.m.)
    • Room 10-191 “ACT: Accelerating Career Transition & How to ID Job Opportunities with Jud Walsh
    • Room 10-192: ”Entrepreneurship: Is it Time to Start Your Own Business?” With Jeff Winters (12:45-2:15)
    • Room 10-193: Employer Panel – Travel & Hospitality (12:45-1:30) Employer Panel – Veterans Preference Employers (1:45-2:30 p.m.)
    • Room 10-194: Employer Panel – Health Care (12:45-1:30) Employer Panel — Clean Energy/Bio Tech (1:45-2:30 p.m.)
    • Room 10-195: Employer Panel – High Tech (12:45-1:30) Employer Panel – Financial Services (1:45-2:30 p.m.)
  • 2:30 p.m. Event concludes
For more videos of the April 8 event, see Rep. Speier’s Web site.

One-Stop Career Centers: A Wealth of Resources

Today I stopped at the One-Stop Career Center. These centers are nationwide – you can search for a One-Stop Career Center near you – and seem to provide a multitude of services, from job searches and resume help, including computer use, to business assistance like the SCORE workshops. They are helpful resources for the job search, worth seeking out.

CareerOneStop logo

But as I looked at the dozens of flyers near the entrance, I realized that many of these career centers have similar offerings, so I looked a little closer. I found a wealth of free and low-cost resources for all kinds of services including comprehensive lists for the following:

  • Food banks
  • Low-income and senior housing
  • Adult school
  • Thrift shops
  • Online job boards
  • Emergency shelter
  • Free after-school program
  • Free Community Bus for rides to doctor’s appointments, etc.
  • Consumer Information Catalog from the Federal Citizen Information Center, which offers informational brochures on all kinds of things – job searches, food safety, car buying, federal programs, you name it – most of which are free or very low cost, and most of which can be found online as well

There was even a flyer for a truck-driving school for the price of licensing fees totaling $227 – the usual cost is ten times that much – though I still have to check that one out.

It seems that each One-Stop Career Center is run by a local nonprofit, partnering with the federal government and local government and nonprofit agencies, so this center might have more resources than most. But the centers – and any other community services facility such as libraries – are worth checking out to see if they have a wealth of resources too.

image of money

Speaking of libraries, an online search for “hard times” – as in New Hard Times – turned up the State of Washington Library’s Hard Times Resources page for people out of work. Lots of info here too, much of it online, for Washington citizens and anyone else in the United States.

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