Benefits cut for the unemployed
Federal unemployment benefits are being phased out, and some states are imposing new restrictions on who can collect.
Friday's disturbing U.S. jobs report isn't the only bad news faced by the nation's 13.7 million unemployed. By the end of June, federal extended unemployment benefits will have ended early for nearly 500,000 long-term unemployed people this year -- and more cuts are coming.
Also, states are tightening their requirements to qualify for unemployment checks.
Fifteen states deny benefits to seasonal workers when their jobs are done, and more are moving in that direction, CNNMoney says. "Now, some policymakers are picking and choosing specific industries to restrict, with school contract workers being a common target," it says. Those are workers like bus drivers and maintenance. Teachers are already prohibited by federal law from collecting benefits.
Critics say Florida now puts up more impediments to getting benefits than any other state. Since August, those who apply have to do so online and also complete an online test of skills and meet other requirements. So many people have been denied that the National Employment Law Project and Florida Legal Services have filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor.
In the first quarter of this year, 61,128 applicants were denied benefits for non-separation reasons such as the failure to meet reporting requirements and complete the skills assessment, the groups noted. That compares to just 19,676 in the first quarter of 2011 -- an increase of more than 200%.
Also, the state has reduced the length of benefits below 26 weeks as the jobless rate goes down. Lose your job next year and you'll likely receive only 20 weeks -- far below the 99 weeks, including federal benefits, when unemployment was at its worst.
Twenty-one of Florida's 67 counties had unemployment in excess of 9%, Ocala.com reported last month. (Post continues below.)In Georgia, unemployed workers who fail a prospective employer's drug test will lose jobless benefits. The catch: The state won't know unless the employer voluntarily reports it.
Michigan lawmakers cut state benefits from 26 to 20 weeks. (Meanwhile, Michigan state senators have passed a bill allowing work-sharing.)
Reduced federal benefits
Congress, when it last approved a federal extension of benefits in February, also decided to phase them out. Two separate programs are involved:
- Extended benefits. It provided 13 to 20 extra weeks of benefits in the hardest-hit states. It will end in September.
- Emergency unemployment compensation. The phase-out of this 34 to 53 weeks on top of state benefits will begin this month and conclude at the end of 2012.
How soon federal benefits end depends on your state's economic conditions. On the West Coast, "Californians are getting hit with a reduction in benefits because, despite a jobless rate of nearly 11%, unemployment is not worse than it was three years ago," NPR says. About 95,000 Californians abruptly lost federal jobless benefits last month, says The New York Times.
The National Employment Law Project predicts that hundreds of thousands more of the long-term unemployed in the U.S. will lose jobless benefits prematurely by the end of the year.
"Never before has Congress cut back on extended unemployment insurance when the unemployment rate remains so high," Christine Owens, the project's executive director, wrote.
What's happened to folks when their benefits ran out?
"The majority of them sold possessions, missed payments on their mortgages or credit cards," Carl Van Horn of the Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University, told American Public Media's Marketplace. "One in five moved in with another family member. A very large percentage borrowed money from friends or family, or even their adult children."
Those who support the cutbacks maintain that extended benefits encourage people not to get a new job. Others say the checks keep the wolf from the door and bolster the economy. People who get those checks are spending them, we guarantee.
Which side of the argument are you on? If you've suddenly lost your benefits, how are you coping? Has the job situation improved where you live?
More on MSN Money:
They should make them take a drug test before giving any benefits. And then peridoically
test people who are collecting. Any one on drugs should be denied benefits.
Your all wrong. The problem is greed. How many articles have been written about big banks and blue chip companies laying off thousands of workers just to increase profits. They are not laying off people because they don't have the business, they are laying workers off just to increase profits. Now don't get me wrong I believe every company has a right to make a reasonable profit, but not at the expense of the workers that helped earn those profits.
It is real easy to say the unemployed are lazy, good for nothing free loaders, until you become one of them yourself. Then the shoe will be on your foot and you will be looking for your unemployment support from the rest of us also. For many of you that day may be fast approaching, so the company you work for can earn a higher profit. Try explaining that to your kids while they eat government surplus cheese.
Oh wait, that's how we feed the unemployed in the 70's and 80's. Guess I just gave my age away!
The government has many Americans believing that the unemployment rate is 8.1 %.
Do you really believe that?.......... I'd really believe a figure like %15.3
How about all those people that went from full time to part time. What would you believe is the true underemployment %......!
Standard operating procedure these days is to fire/layoff any experienced workers and to hire people fresh out of college that will work for half as much, that or to ship the job overseas. Problem is all the engineering and design lessons learned are lost, and the SAME mistakes are repeated over and over again.
If the new guy makes mistakes then it will cost the company more money due to wasted time and resources then if they had just kept the old guy around who had already knew not to do that and why. There are very few "master" craftsmen anymore. A master craftsman did not need a QC person and neither does any worker that actually cares about the product or company that they work for, but with how workers get treated these days what do employers expect? Put chit in get chit out.
We have two groups, one at the top and one at the bottom. Both groups expect to get something for or from nothing, but that is more welfare versus unemployment.
I disagree.....unemployment has always worked , its not free ..you pay into it. now if all these companies are sending jobs overseas..leaving nothing here...then where do you go from there ?
Gov is manipulating the numbers....giving it the perception that unemployment is dropping. just get rid of the dam greedy politicians.
I see so many things wrong with this situation
1. seasonal workers not being able to collect will mean that companies will now hire with "seasonal" status instead of part time staus making most of their emplyees ineligible to collect if job is lost.
2. making people take assessment tests means that if you dont have a good education (which we all know alot of americans skated thru school barely graduating) you cant collect regardless if you worked for 10 years prior to losing job, but yet they had no problem collecting unemployment taxes on you for those years employed.
3. Ones that are being dropped from unemplyment will now ALL be eligible for welfare, and that system is far worse! now govt will have hundreds of thousands that not only will get monthly welfare checks but food stamps and healthcare!
Can see it now...
American Citizens running Mexican Illegals off Home Depot Parking lots..
Just tryin to make a few bucks to feed their American famlies..
A sign of the times..
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