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Is more than 99 weeks too long to collect unemployment?

If it seems like you've been jobless forever, this post is not for you.

If you've already moved, cut your cable and landline, and sold your car -- and old jewelry and knickknacks -- to make ends meet, this post is not for you.

This post is for the senators, the congressmen and women, and yes, even members of this fair site who seem to think that we don't need to extend unemployment benefits.

I'm a former editor at a newspaper. You know, that deadwood thing with ink that people used to read before we all had laptops?

There have been a few (cough. gag.) layoffs in my industry during the past few years. For the last two, I've been looking for work. All sorts of work. Journalism. PR. Communications. Administrative. You name it, I've gone for it.

I'll admit that for most of that time my job search was narrowed by geographic location and certain scheduling  demands because I was caring for my mother, who had a heart condition.

While Mom was ill, I sent out resumes regularly but without the attention to detail that I usually, uh, employ. When I failed to hear back from prospective employers, I didn't fret, so sure was I that as soon as I spent time tailoring each cover letter and crafting each resume to appeal to each job I would get a call, an interview and the inevitable offer.

When my mother passed away a few months ago, I got quite a shock. Not by her death but by the black hole known as the job market, the black hole that relentlessly sucks in resumes and queries that never again see the light of day. Headhunters and HR departments are looking for specific items on resumes. If you've had another sort of occupation, say editor, it doesn't compute. Quite literally: These days lot of resume submissions are sorted by software programs.

I received a notice from the California EDD last week. My jobless benefits are finished. Kaput. As dead as George W. Bush's chances of getting elected again.

I'm not fretting. Oh, no. I'm in a general state of alarm, with worry about to border on panic. I can't take my mind off my joblessness, and bills for June. It's my personal 9/11.  

Like a lot of you, I've been unemployed in the past. Remember the economic downturn in 1992 before Bill Clinton was elected? Yup, I was out of work then too. But in the last millennium if I could get my foot in the door, I got the job. If I went to a temp agency, I could get work the very next day, and a paycheck in a few days.

Last week, I walked into a temp agency, passed the tests with flying colors, and .... Zip. Bupkis. Sartre's nothingness.

Now before you start saying to yourself that there must be something wrong with me -- like three eyes on my forehead or halitosis or a bad attitude, there's not. My suits are professional, my haircut conservative, and my smile liberal. I'm a catch! Caught in a Catch 22 of a job market.

I'm writing this on behalf of all the other people out there like me. Our jobless benefits have run out. Our savings have run out. Our time has run out.

Originally posted to newsfatigue on Tue May 25, 2010 at 04:01 PM PDT.


Should we extend jobless benefits for more than 99 weeks?

72%75 votes
12%13 votes
15%16 votes

| 104 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  ideally, what should congress do (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sparhawk, exlrrp

    to help you? Imagine you were in charge, what would you do?

  •  I call it "Unemployment Ignorance" (11+ / 0-)

    Even wrote a diary on it.

    Unemployment Ignorance

    The bottom line is that until they fix the unemployment problem, we'll need extensions. 99 weeks is not enough when there are no jobs. Indeed, 499 weeks is not enough when there are no jobs.

    •  I've got one in the hopper (8+ / 0-)

      on how employed people should treat their unemployed friends and family. Let's just say I have a bunch of friends that are clueless on what being unemployed really is (several seem to think it's a vacation, a "nice, peaceful life" or a time to "go shopping".)

      Knit, purl, or get out of the way!
      Economic: -8.25 Social: -7.44

      by mcronan on Tue May 25, 2010 at 04:20:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  please finish and post the piece (0+ / 0-)

        I really do not think most people are trying to be unkind. It is just that the recession has not hit everyone equally.

        I live in an area with pretty low unemployment and I had a very good year. I was promoted and received a sizable raise. Many of my friends have also landed new, higher paying jobs.

        Standing in my shoes, it seems like the recession is over.

        Of course, things may look differently in other parts of the country.

        •  Where do you live? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          melpomene1, CKendall

          Maybe we should all move there.

          Need to hire a writer, copy editor or proofreader? Contact me!

          by newsfatigue on Tue May 25, 2010 at 05:45:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  What??? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          "Of course, things may look differently in other parts of the country."

          Things MAY look different?  MAY look different?  Have you read the news recently? Read DailyKos?  Noted any statistics about record numbers of people needing food assistance?  Lacking health insurance?  Read any comments about people running out of benefits and savings?

          Standing in my shoes, it seems like the recession is over.

          Standing in your shoes (with your promotion, sizable raise and well-paid friends), did you ever think what that might sound like to someone who has been out of work for, say, a couple of years?  Ever think about standing in someone else's shoes for just a moment?  

          "Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do." John Wooden

          by CKendall on Tue May 25, 2010 at 08:24:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I hear ya on the resumes. (11+ / 0-)

    Trying to get a hospital RN gig, and I have yet to come across a place that still accepts resumes on paper, with cover letters.  Everybody is using recruiting software that my CV doesn't actually fit nicely into.  Nobody expects you to have 5 college degrees, for instance, so I have to decide which 2 or 3 I'll list.  And since I've been employed for the last decade by a tiny company with my only superior the company's owner, I can't provide 'three references from superiors who are familiar with your current work'.  But that doesn't stop them from making the fields required, with no way for me to explain it simply doesn't apply, through no fault or defect of my own.


    Am I cynical? Yes I am! - Bob the Builder's lesser known brother Pete the Politician

    by Ezekial 23 20 on Tue May 25, 2010 at 04:13:24 PM PDT

  •  Of course...what is maddening is the assholes (12+ / 0-)

    that created this mess, just got paid big bonuses out of our treasury.  They made tons of money in equities with the money they borrowed from us at 0% interest, they will pay 15% on that money personally and probably nothing from their corporate coffers.  The Repub's scream that if we tax these people appropriately, they will move overseas...let them. The Chinese use capital punishment on corporate crooks maybe then our job market and economy would actually stabilize and we could begin creating jobs.  In the meantime, my answer is for benefits is as long as it takes for the economy to start creating jobs in sufficient numbers to give people a decent chance at a job.

    "When fascism comes to America, it'll be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

    by lakehillsliberal on Tue May 25, 2010 at 04:14:50 PM PDT

  •  I didn't get close to 99 weeks (9+ / 0-)

    and many others didn't either. Despite working in one of the states with the highest unemployment rates, my benefits ran out after 60 weeks or so. The truth is, I still haven't gotten a good answer as to why I am not entitled to 99 weeks, but I haven't gotten the stomach up to call and deal with DOL customer service lines.

    Unemployment here is at 16% and everyone's moving away for the summer. Perhaps I should consider finding me a sugar mama or something?

    Huh, that's weird. -4.48, -4.56

    by pseudopod on Tue May 25, 2010 at 04:16:22 PM PDT

  •  Very sorry for your struggle. (6+ / 0-)

    My wife was recently laid off, too.

    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

    by HeyMikey on Tue May 25, 2010 at 04:19:20 PM PDT

  •  The labor market is broken (9+ / 0-)

    Too much keyword matching, not enough people meeting people.

    And we need to come to terms with that just as FDR did for another broken labor market, which he dealt with by creating a network of state employment security commissions that not only provided unemployment insurance but also acted as applicant advocates.  Sadly the Job Service has been left behind by this broken labor market too.  Employers don't take applicants from the Job Service office unless they are required by law, as for a federal project.

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Tue May 25, 2010 at 04:37:37 PM PDT

    •  broken, and in transition (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      we broken-down journalists aren't the only ones being turfed out in the changing technology of our new marketing economy, or whatever the hell it is.

      "Good Lord, how can the rich bear to die?" -- Nikos Kazantzakis

      by Shocko from Seattle on Tue May 25, 2010 at 06:06:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly (0+ / 0-)

        If employers don't start looking for the transferable skills folks have, there is going to be a high unemployment rate for years to come.  HR folks, in order to screen the resumes quickly, have become too inflexible.  Businesses are going to suffer a loss of real talent by focusing on paper talent.

        50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

        by TarheelDem on Wed May 26, 2010 at 04:31:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  if congress is willing to raise taxes (0+ / 0-)

    If congress is willing to raise taxes to pay for it, then I agree with you.  However, if you are really out of money, you need a solution right now, not whenever congress gets around to passing a new law.  

    What about retail?  I was considering getting a job in retail just to tide me over until the job market looked better (a bookstore ideally).  You can always tune down your resume to not look over-qualified.  A lot of places are willing to hire you if you are willing to do unpleasant work for low wages, but it is better then nothing.

    Also, have you ever considered teaching English in China or Taiwan.  Again, it is not a career, but I know a lot of friends who have done it and it can maybe tide you over till something better comes along.  It would certainly be an interesting experience.  If my current gig doesn't work out, it is something I'm going to consider.    

  •  The poll results prove my point (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    If progressives question the need to extend unemployment benefits, the country is doomed.

    Need to hire a writer, copy editor or proofreader? Contact me!

    by newsfatigue on Tue May 25, 2010 at 05:44:12 PM PDT

  •  I'm the parent of an overqualified pauper! (4+ / 0-)

    He applied for 200 jobs. There was just no hope, until the stimulus bill opened up a government job.

    Unemployment is almost never the fault of the unemployed these days. If one percent of the unemployed are playing the system, that's a lot.

    Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur.

    by MrMichaelMT on Tue May 25, 2010 at 05:53:21 PM PDT

  •  I'm out of work, too (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greengemini, melpomene1, CKendall

    but I've discovered a secret to getting past that automated resume reader.

    The US Mail.

    Nobody sends resumes through the mail any more. I've gotten interviews from companies that I have web-applied for several times to no response.

    So, when the ad includes a phone number, fax number or street address, take advantage of it. Call, fax and mail to get through.

  •  Instead of extending UI (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    We should implement a WPA program, like in the 1930's.
     Letting people work is better than handing them a check.

     I say this as someone who's been out of work for 57 weeks now.

    "The people have only as much liberty as they have the intelligence to want & the courage to take." - Emma Goldman

    by gjohnsit on Tue May 25, 2010 at 06:23:49 PM PDT

  •  500,000 jobs per year to foreign H-1Bs (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    If you don't know about the really terrible job visas, it's time you learned.  There are 4 specific jobs visas, and they account for 500,000 jobs per year (that's a guess, but motivated by some information).

    H-1B: 85,000 hard

    L-1: Estimate of 250,000-350,000

    J-1: A "student" visa used to staff HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of summer positions with foreign workers

    H-2B: used at a slightly lower level, I don't know the limits or caps here.

    If you are jobless, and have not communicated with your congresspersons about these jobs visas, do so today.

    I am a nativist, and that is a progressive position.

    by numberzguy on Tue May 25, 2010 at 07:28:15 PM PDT

    •  Sorry. But that's like comparing apples ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      to fig leaves.

      Certain industries in this country are not hiring. Period. And even if we kicked out everybody with a work permit, that would not end the unemployment problem we're experiencing right now.

      Even though I'm out of work, I still am not in favor of changing or capping job visas. We need different ideas and the talent that foreign workers bring to this country. That's what has made this country great.

      Look. I'm dying here. I have no idea how I'm going to make it. But your suggestion is bonkers. Your suggestion, dare I say it, belongs on a Fox News website.

      If you're going to write to your senator or congress person, write to tell them to extend jobless benefits. It won't help me at this point, but hopefully it will help someone else.

      Need to hire a writer, copy editor or proofreader? Contact me!

      by newsfatigue on Tue May 25, 2010 at 07:36:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, we need jobs (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        You are saying, amazingly, that the 500,000 jobs that are occupied by cheap foreign labor are not needed by Americans?  Then you need more than jobless benefits, you need to re-think.  

        Although the jobs may not be in your area, persons in your area might be those employed by the H-1B slots.  It's all a big zero-sum thing.

        You obviously have drunk the kool-aid that all jobs to foreign workers are to the "best and the brightest".  That's mostly or almost completely not true.  It's mostly to the cheap labor.

        Those jobs are ones you could have.  And your clueless allegiance to this "foreign workers create jobs in the US" or similar bullshit has obviously confused you.

        Liberal values are not a suicide pact.  We need these jobs here for AMERICAN WORKERS.  HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of American college kids are not getting jobs, while Indians who are not citizens get jobs.  That is wrong.

        I am a nativist, and that is a progressive position.

        by numberzguy on Tue May 25, 2010 at 07:43:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It's really amazing (0+ / 0-)

        There are a number of cases in which newspersons have been brought in from foreign areas, and where news jobs have been outsourced.  And you are clueless enough to want more of this?

        Are you thinking straight?

        I am a nativist, and that is a progressive position.

        by numberzguy on Tue May 25, 2010 at 07:45:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  There is, possibly, possibly, 1 more extension (0+ / 0-)

    After that, there will be no more extensions.  If an extension is suggested after Nov 2010, it will not happen.

    So, you folks who are unemployed had better get ready. Because the Republicans will simply not go along after the election is over.

    And the diarist who seems to be unclear about the meaning of the term "zero-sum" had better be thinking about what it means. A job is a job.  The job can go to an American or it can go to an Indian.  I want the jobs in America to go to Americans.  AND THAT IS A PROGRESSIVE VALUE.

    Because Americans eat in America every single day.

    I am a nativist, and that is a progressive position.

    by numberzguy on Tue May 25, 2010 at 07:48:24 PM PDT

  •  I've never been in your situation, so I (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    princesspat, tardis10

    can only imagine the worry, alarm and panic.  All that in addition to your mother's death.  I can't think of anything to say except that I am sorry you are going through such rough times.  Well, I can also say that you are an excellent writer who has somehow managed to hold onto a sense of humor.  You do sound like a catch.

    "Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do." John Wooden

    by CKendall on Tue May 25, 2010 at 08:38:59 PM PDT

    •  Sense of humor? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      princesspat, CKendall


      Thank you for your comment. I've been trying to stay upbeat, but the truth is I'm not laughing. I don't know what I'm going to do if something doesn't come along in the next few days.

      Need to hire a writer, copy editor or proofreader? Contact me!

      by newsfatigue on Tue May 25, 2010 at 09:20:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I should have said (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        "rueful sense of humor."  I know you are not laughing and it's not a laughing matter.  The commenter above who lectured and hectored was lacking in judgment--and heart.

        "Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do." John Wooden

        by CKendall on Wed May 26, 2010 at 08:54:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I didn't take it the wrong way. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I really did appreciate you taking the time for the nice words. My +rueful+ irony didn't come across in my reply. I just got an interview for tomorrow! Headhunter, but still. Wish me luck!

          As to Mr. (I presume mister) Let's-throw-the-feringers-out, I ignored his replies. I'm good at that!

          Need to hire a writer, copy editor or proofreader? Contact me!

          by newsfatigue on Wed May 26, 2010 at 04:39:04 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Very, very best wishes for the interview (0+ / 0-)

            tomorrow.  Hope they know a catch when they see one!

            "Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do." John Wooden

            by CKendall on Wed May 26, 2010 at 05:14:14 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thanks! Unfortunately ... (0+ / 0-)

              I haven't heard back.

              The interviewer was v. nice. I wrote a thank you letter to her, and have not rec'd a reply.

              I don't get it. I certainly look a lot younger than I am, but ... but ... something strange is going on at employment agencies.

              I was a headhunter for a short time in the 1980s, and we never asked people questions like "what year did you graduate from high school" and we never asked to photocopy a driver's license either.

              The other thing that employment agencies take into serious consideration these days is -- wait for it -- your credit score. Now if you have been unemployed for two years and taking care of your mother -- financially and otherwise -- for four, how can someone be surprised that you no longer have a pristine credit score. It's nuts. How can I pay the medical bills if I don't have a job. If I don't have a job, I continue to have a bad credit score.

              I'm doomed ;)

              Sigh. Well, I sold a bunch of furniture today, so I can pay the rent for June. I just have have have to get a job in the first week or so of June. Otherwise I'm sunk.

              Need to hire a writer, copy editor or proofreader? Contact me!

              by newsfatigue on Fri May 28, 2010 at 04:10:50 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  And thank you ... (0+ / 0-)

              for listening to me rant!

              Need to hire a writer, copy editor or proofreader? Contact me!

              by newsfatigue on Fri May 28, 2010 at 04:41:13 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

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