No Merry Christmas for the 99ers

The 99ers are those Americans unemployed long enough to exhaust their unemployment benefit (UE) of 99 weeks.  According to the US Department of Labor, at least 10% of the currently unemployed (over one million Americans) have been out of work over two years. They no longer receive any government UE benefit.  The recent 13 month benefit extension tied to the tax bill does not increase the 99 week eligibility, it only extends the period of time where federal subsidies are used to extend the benefit out to 99 weeks.

The ranks of the 99ers is increasing at an alarming rate. One week in March of 2009, 643,000 people filed for UE benefits, a surge that lasted for several weeks during that time period. (According to Labor Department data) That was 89 weeks ago. As these recipients begin to lose assistance the ripple across the already stagnant economy will be severe. People barely hanging on will be left without anything to hang on to. This loss affects basic survival needs – food, shelter, transportation. And this is money that will no longer be feeding back into the economy.

The problem is complex, but the solution is evident – Jobs!

Our country hasn’t seen this kind of hole in the job market since the Labor Department began tracking employment numbers in the early seventies. As of November, slightly more than four million people had been unemployed more than a year and in the coming months, unless companies begin opening their doors to new employees, a social disaster is imminent among the chronically unemployed. The jobs situation must improve to end the plight of the 99ers.

The future is a scary thing to look at when you don’t know what it holds. My heart goes out to anyone in that situation.

You take my life when you do take the means whereby I live. ~William Shakespeare

4 thoughts on “No Merry Christmas for the 99ers

  1. Angela Rout

    Thanks Mickey. I am quickly approaching the 99er title…. and you’re right…. no Christmas here this year. But we have our togetherness…and a roof…. for now on the roof anyway.

  2. K Harris

    God help us, I’m 65 in a few months and worked since I was 16 ,raised 2 children,mostly by myself .No help from child support,the state did nothing back then to enforce a court orders.Helped my daughter raise 3 children.Cleaned houses for twenty-five years or more.Did art work and many non-skilled jobs.Never filed for unemployment til 08.I’m ashamed to go out and see people this Christmas.I’ve tried and tried to find work.I could even lose my simple home.May all the legal thieves have a Merry Christmas.I am not the only one in this boat.Surly one or two oars don’t cost as much as one dinner to them….

  3. Mickey Mills Post author

    I’m pretty well convinced that Employers are not seriously considering anybody over fifty-five years old for employment, except possibly in senior executive positions.

    With health care costs spiraling out of control and an aging workforce, even though age discrimination is illegal, HR people are not giving serious consideration to applicants who will not be in the workplace that much longer. I also believe that HR people recruiting talent systematically reject candidates with weight, age, appearance, or other issues, during the interview process. I’ve had two interviews from the hundreds of resumes sent out. It’s easy enough for the HR person to guess my age based on work history.

    Employers had rather bring in a young employee for less money than take advantage of the experience an older employee brings to the table.

    I wish you well and hope you find something soon.

  4. John Stefani

    What makes it more difficult is dealing the attitude of some people, like former Governor Huckabee, who believes us unemployed should putting in volunteer hours for our unemployment money.

    I called my state unemployment office and spoke with them and they stated clearly that volunteering is a good way for us to network, at the same time, the unemployment system wanted us to do way more job search activities then volunteering.

    They said that that they just didn’t want unemployed people spending all their time volunteering instead of looking for work.



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