The growing number of underemployed workers is a better barometer of how bad it is these days for jobseekers.
The economy took a serious turn for the worse in August, when the unemployment rate reached a five-year high of 6.1 percent and nearly 9.4 million Americans were officially counted as unemployed and still actively looking for work. Just since the federal program of extended jobless benefits was enacted in June, nearly 900,000 more workers are struggling to find jobs in a rapidly declining economy. At the same time, twice as many states are experiencing especially high levels of unemployment, with nearly a dozen states now exceeding 6.5 percent unemployment.
Large number of states, especially in the Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri), the South (Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina), and the West (California, Nevada) now have unemployment rates that compare to the peak they reached during the extended 1990s recession (when the unemployment rate was 7.8%). Northeastern states, including Rhode Island and Connecticut, are also experiencing record rates of joblessness. Compared to when the situation when the extension of unemployment benefits passed in June, there are now triple the number of states with unemployment over 6% (averaged over three months) and six times as many states with unemployment rates over 6.5%.
The national unemployment rate has risen to a five-year high of 6.1%, and many states are experiencing rates as high as 8.9%. This week’s Economic Snapshot features an interactive map showing the unemployment rate of each state in August, as well as the employment gains and losses incurred by each state since the economic downturn began in December 2007.
NELP released a new report today which profiles several of the most innovative state education and training programs in the nation that are funded by payroll contributions. More than half the states in the U.S. now operate such programs, often in partnership with the unemployment insurance system.
By featuring a diverse range of the most successful programs (from California, Minnesota, New Jersey and Maine), the report provides helpful insights for those states looking to adopt new education and training initiatives or to improve upon existing programs. As described in the report, these programs go a long way to supplement (or in some cases exceed) state training funds provided by the federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA), thus providing the states with the resources and flexibility to expand state training priorities.
Since December 2006, the number of job seekers per job opening available has skyrocketed more than 60%. The number of job seekers per job opening is now firmly in recessionary territory–at a higher level than during any month of the official 2001 recession–and it shows no signs of leveling off. This week’s Economic Snapshot and a companion Issue Brief look at current job openings trends, an important counterpart to the more commonly cited measures of unemployment.
From the abstract:
The federal Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) programs provide cash benefits and job retraining to workers and farmers who have been displaced by the off-shoring of U.S. jobs, falling prices resulting from increased imports, and other consequences of international trade. But workers and farmers have been seriously hampered in their attempts to gain TAA benefits by persistent and pervasive mismanagement of the TAA programs by the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
This article describes some of the problems that workers and farmers have faced in applying for and receiving TAA benefits. While legislative changes may address some of these problems, the article argues that legal counsel for workers and farmers is a necessary component of any plan to ensure that TAA benefits reach those they were designed to help.
A growing number of companies are laying people off for part of the workweek to weather the economic slowdown. Eighteen states have programs whereby employees collect unemployment for the hours that they don’t work at their full-time jobs.
From the summary:
This report examines the funding of unemployment insurance (UI) in Ohio. It proposes seven recommendations to improve program solvency, both in the short run and in the long run. The two main recommendations to improve short-run solvency are to: 1) implement a substantial increase in the taxable wage base and 2) institute a temporary freeze in weekly benefits, both recommendations to be effective in 2009. Indexation of the taxable wage base is a principal recommendation to improve solvency in the long-run.
As state UI trust funds face a looming economic downturn, NELP has released a briefing paper today that looks at overall UI financing as well as giving a state-by-state breakdown of current trust fund reserves compared with common UI solvency measures. “Unemployment Insurance Financing: Examining State Trust Funds Facing Recession” looks at the current status of state trust funds and examines the question of why states are less solvent in 2008 than they were prior to the 2001 recession. NELP also describes policies that states should adopt to strengthen their UI financing mechanisms so that UI programs can better assist both jobless workers and a state’s economy during recessions.
Included in the paper are explanations of how UI solvency is measured, comparisons of current state solvency status with each state’s solvency situation prior to the 2001 recession, and findings that 21 states have adequately solvent trust funds while as many as 18 states face serious solvency challenges in an upcoming recession. Michigan, Missouri, New York, and Ohio are the states with the nation’s lowest UI trust fund solvency at this time.
In what is the most recessionary jobs report since the last official downturn in 2001, payrolls fell 63,000 last month and were down 101,000 in the private sector, according to today’s report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Unemployment actually ticked down slightly, from 4.9% to 4.8%, but this was wholly due to labor force withdrawal. Employment in the more volatile survey of households–the one from which the unemployment rate is drawn–fell over 250,000.
Americans Worried About Their Standard of Living
Source: Dennis Jacobe, Gallup, February 22, 2008