First and foremost is the problem that there is no clear unemployment statistic available that tracks the number of unemployed that have been unable to find work once their 99 weeks of extended unemployment benefits expired. With the most severe recession that this country has seen since the Great Depression, this needs to change. The Bureau of Labor Statistics should be compelled by Congress to change their reporting requirements to include those individuals that are no longer eligible for unemployment benefits, but still unemployed and looking for work. The way the current statistics are reported today, these lost souls out of work for over 99 weeks, the 99’ers simply fall into the ether never to be considered again. This is just wrong.
The closest statistic that I have been able to find that approximates the plight of the 99’ers is the statistic on discourage workers, but this statistic does not come close to reporting the true number of 99’ers impacted by the current economic malady. This statistic is supposed to cover people that are “not in the labor force, searched for work and available”. The problem here is that the vast majority of the 99’ers should still be considered as “in the labor force” as they are still earnestly looking for work. What we have is a real Catch 22 for the 99’ers; they are still looking for work with no benefits while not being counted because they are no longer filing for benefits. The number of discouraged workers for July 2010 actually dropped from the month of June while the nation recorded a loss of 159,000 jobs. It’s aberrations like this that allows our politicians, in today’s disastrous economy, to claim that unemployment is dropping while ignoring the fact that the only reason unemployment is dropping is because the 99’ers are falling off of the unemployment rolls.
Due to the fact that there is no reported statistic available directly reporting the vast number of 99’ers, one is left to try to interpolate the number form the other available statistics. This causes the projected numbers to become very subjective and easy to ignore because they have no real voracity. What this really belies is the haunting truth that 99’ers are not numbers in the first place. They are people, people that are suffering greatly, people that deserve our compassion, concern, and commitment as citizens of this great nation.
Simply looking at the total number of people employed over the last 2+ years, total employed maxed out at 146.483 million in November of ’07. The latest number employed, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for June ’10, stood at 138.960 million. This represents a loss of a total of 7.523 million jobs in a period of 32 months, well outside the hurdle for many of the 99’ers currently impacted by the declining number of available jobs. The number of unemployed recorded as being “in the labor force” over the same period has moved from 7.284 million to 14.599 million respectively. This represents an increase in total unemployed over the same period of an additional 7.315 million unemployed. These two totals are curiously very close to each other, so I would infer that since we are discussing a very long period of time exhibiting job losses that it is logical to conclude that most of the 99’ers were not finding employment, and thus many have simply fallen off of the unemployment statistics all together. But how many people are currently 99’ers?
The worst case scenario would be that anyone losing their job starting in December of ’07 has remained unemployed to date. Using worst case numbers, this would mean an average of 235,375 jobs were lost per month (7.523 million / 32 months). This would put the maximum number for current 99’ers at 2.155 million people with 235,375 people joining them every month. This is not unrealistic as most recent reports of the number of unemployed losing benefits every week was estimated at over 200,000 a month in the most recent federal unemployment funding lapse back in June-July of ’10.
These numbers are quickly becoming a national tragedy and to think that we do not need to enact emergency recovery measures for the 99’ers is just ridiculous on so many levels. This is a disaster every bit as critical to our nation as hurricane Katrina and the Gulf Oil Spill. Why is it not getting the attention that it deserves? How can we be so callous to our own in despair? I for one just can’t understand why we are not just livid at our politicians for not stepping up and addressing this issue directly either by fully funding support or using emergency funding to alleviate the suffering and providing hope. Contact your Congressperson and your Senators today to tell them to fix this one way or the other, but fix it now!