Saturday, February 28, 2009

Missouri's unemployment insurance fund runs out of money

According to the St. Louis Business Journal, the state of Missouri has had to borrow $15 million from the federal government as its unemployment insurance fund ran dry earlier this week.

The state is expected to borrow $260 million from the feds to cover their costs through May. If you're currently collecting unemployment insurance from Missouri, don't worry the checks will still be coming.

Tip for the unemployed--Shop around for your insurance

Odds are if you're unemployed or if you're afraid of the possibility of getting laid-off, you should look at various ways to spend less and save money---One very easy way to lower your expenses is to shop around for your insurance---Especially your auto-insurance.

If you used to drive 20 miles to work & 20 miles back home each day---That's 200 miles a week, or 10,000 miles a year! Call up your existing auto-insurer and tell them that you're driving fewer miles each year---This may reduce your premium. Once you get your new price from your existing auto-insurer, call 2 or 3 other car insurance companies get quotes and shop around! You could easily save a few hundred dollars a year if you recheck all your auto-insurance options when you're unemployed.

Ohio's Unemployment Rate Reaches 8.8%

According to WFIN Ohio's unemployment rate reached 8.8% in January, 2009. That is up 1.4 percentage points from December's 7.4%.

It also reached a 20 year high for Ohio's Unemployment Rate and was significantly higher than last year's 5.7% unemployment rate.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Jobless in Alabama to see $25/week more in unemployment insurance benefits

According to MSNBC beginning in March, jobless Alabamans who are collecting unemployment insurance will be seeing a $25 per week increase in their insurance benefits.

This increase was approved by Governor Bob Riley and is a result of the Obama stimulus package.

California's Unemployment Rate Tops 10%

According to the LA Times the state of California saw 10.1% unemployment rate in January, 2009. That is up 140 bps, from 8.7%... The 10.1% unemployment rate in California is the worst since 1983, and close to the all-time worst (11%) seen in 1982.

California joins Michigan and Rhode Island in the 10%+ Club... What other states will be up there with them?

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Major Cities Continue to See Unemployment Rate Increases

According to Data from the Bureau of Labor Stats some of the nation's largest metro areas continue to see increases in their unemployment rate.

Currently, Data is only available up until December 2008--When the Nation's Unemployment rate was 7.2%---As of January, 2009 the US's unemployment rate was 7.6%---So If I had to guess, I'd say that most of these city's unemployment rates are really ~0.5% higher than what is currently shown.

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Of the 5 cities shown, Las Vegas has the highest unemployment rate in December, of 9.1% as gamblers and conventioneers continue to limit their trips to sin-city.

Los Angeles Metro Area saw an 8.8% unemployment rate and Atlanta was at 7.6%.

Chicago (7.1%) and New York (6.6%) Metro areas saw unemployment rates below the national average in the month of December.

Georgia's Unemployment Rate Reaches a Record High--8.6&

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution the unemployment rate in Georgia reached 8.6% in January 2009---This is up considerably from the 4.9% in January 2008. This is a record high number--surpassing the 8.3% unemployment rate seen in Georgia during the early 1980's recession---And considering that the State's population has significantly grown, it means that the number of unemployed is far greater than what was seen in the 1980's.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Initial Jobless Claims reach 667,000

According to the AP the weekly jobless claims report shows 667,000 filing claims last week---This is the larger than expected and the most filers since 1982 (Although there were 1/3 as many workers back then).

Continuing Claims were north of 5 million this week as well.

Looking for work in Massachusetts? Try the unemployment office

No I'm talking about just going to the Massachusetts' unemployment office to collect your unemployment insurance check and find some other employer---I'm talking about that according to, the state's unemployment is hiring 60 more workers to deal with the flood of unemployment claims.

In December the department increased headcount by 100% going from 75 people to 150 strong. Now they are hiring another 60 people, who after 6 weeks of training will be helping to answer questions over the phone.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Texas to get $25/week more in unemployment insurance benefits

According to the San Antonio Business Journal jobless Texans can expect to start receiving $25/week more in unemployment insurance benefits.

Unemployment beneficiaries will start receiving the added funds starting in mid-March. The increase is effective for any claims filed as of Feb. 22 through Dec. 26, 2009. The federally funded increase applies to all types of unemployment benefits. Employers will not be charged the additional funds because taxpayer money is covering the increase. The Texas Workforce Commission administers unemployment benefits to workers who become unemployed through no fault or their own and are actively seeking work.

Washington State's Unemployment Rate Stands at 7.8%

According to the Seattle Times the state of Washington's unemployment rate for January 2009 is 7.8%. Declines were seen in most industries, especially in construction and manufacturing.

The Unemployment increased from 4.5% in January 2008 to 7.8% in January 2009---This is a very large increase that is likely going to be duplicated across many other states. (Typically by this time of the month the Bureau of Labor Statistics would have reported each state's unemployment rate---however, due to a "computer glitch" these statistics have been delayed)

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Unemployed in South Carolina to get $25/week extra in unemployment insurance checks

According to the Governor of South Carolina Mark Sanford has signed an agreement with the feds to get an extra $25/week in the hands of South Carolina's unemployed who are collecting unemployment insurance.

South Carolina has the 3rd worst rate of unemployed in the United States---The jobless who will see this $25/week increase will be seeing the extra benefits in about 2 or 3 weeks.

JP Morgan's Dividend Cut Announcement Cites Unemployment Rate & House Price Decline Estimates

This afternoon JP Morgan announced that it is cutting its dividend from $0.38/share per quarter to $0.05/share per quarter. What is interesting what they shared as their rationale for cutting the dividend.

Below, I have attached Slide #2 from the presentation in which JP Morgan provides a "highly stressed environment" in which they model a:
  • 2 Year Recession
  • 10% Unemployment Rate
  • 40% Decline in Housing Prices (Peak to trough)

Click for a Larger Image (Red highlight box, added for emphasis)

Florida's Unemployed to get $25/week more in unemployment insurance

According to Forbes the state of Florida has approved that the state's jobless collecting unemployment insurance will be able to get $25 per week more in their checks courtesy of Barack Obama's stimulus package.

Washington State's jobless to get $25/week extra in unemployment insurance

According to the AP people unemployed in Washington State will see $25/week more in unemployment insurance compensation beginning in May, 2009.

Gov. Chris Gregoire signed an agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor on Thursday authorizing the state to increase temporary federal benefits by $25 a week.

The money is technically available next week. But the state unemployment agency won't be able to reprogram their system until May. So people receiving the extra payments will get a retroactive lump sum payment at that time.

The combined state and federal jobless increases will raise the minimum weekly unemployment benefit amount from $129 to $225, as of May 3. The maximum benefit will increase from the current $541 to $611 per week.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Jobless in Wisconsin can expect $25/week more in unemployment insurance payouts

According to the Chicago Tribune residents of Wisconsin who are jobless and collecting unemployment insurance can expect to receive $25 per week in unemployment benefits beginning next week.

This increase in insurance payout comes from the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (Stimulus Package) that was signed by Barack Obama last week.

Anyone getting state or federal unemployment automatically gets the extra $25 a week as long as they are eligible for benefits for the rest of the year.

Wisconsin provides unemployment benefits up to $363 a week for as many as 26 weeks. Those who exhaust those benefits may be eligible for federal extended benefits of up to 33 weeks.

Michigan's jobless to get $25/week extra in their unemployment insurance check

According to the AP Governor Granholm of Michigan has signed a deal with the federal government that would allow for a $25/week increase in the unemployment insurance compensation that Michigan's jobless will receive.

According to sources, this will take affect sometime in Q1-2009.

(Michigan has the highest rate of unemployment in the United States... You can read all of my Michigan related posts here).

Jobless Californians get an extra $25/week unemployment insurance benefit thanks to Stimulus

According to the California Employment Development Department:

Federal legislation signed into law in February 17, 2009, allows for a weekly $25 stimulus payment. This $25 stimulus payment will be added to each week of UI benefits paid to eligible workers in California. The federal legislation states that these $25 stimulus payments are only payable for weeks of unemployment that start February 22, 2009, and after.

The EDD has been continuously working to update the necessary programming to issue the $25 stimulus payments. Once the programming is completed, EDD will automatically issue payments for all eligible weeks of unemployment that start February 22, 2009, and after.

Since the $25 stimulus payments are added to your regular UI benefits, the $25 stimulus payment will not reduce your available UI claim amount.

You do not need to contact EDD to apply for the $25 stimulus payments.

Hawaii to get $25 increase in unemployment insurance check

According to the Hawaii Department of Labor:

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, signed by President Obama on February 17, 2009, created a temporary Federal Additional Compensation (FAC) program to provide for a weekly stimulus payment of $25. FAC is payable to individuals who are entitled to receive regular unemployment insurance benefits as well as Emergency Unemployment Compensation and Trade Readjustment Allowances.

The $25 FAC stimulus payments only apply to weeks of unemployment beginning with the week ending February 28, 2009 and after. The FAC payments are 100% federally funded so employers’ reserve accounts will not be charged for the additional $25 weekly payment.

The $25 FAC stimulus payment will be added to each week of benefits paid to eligible individuals in Hawaii. You do not need to apply or contact the UI Division to receive the FAC. Please continue to file your weekly or bi-weekly claim certifications as you normally do.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Nebraska's jobless now eligable for Tier 2 Unemployment Insurance payments

According to the AP for unemployed Nebraskans who have exhausted their regular unemployment insurance benefit of 26 weeks are now eligable to file for the emergency unemployment benefits, through December 31, 2009.

This filing date was pushed back from March 31, 2009 with Barack Obama's signing of the stimulus package.

Floridians to receive $25/week more in unemployment insurance payment

According to the Tampa Bay Business Journal jobless Floridians will receive an extra $25/week in unemployment insurance.

Gov. Charlie Crist signed an agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor to increase weekly unemployment benefits by $25 per week.

The increased benefits take effect starting Feb. 22, a release from Crist’s office said. Funding comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the release said.

Pennsylvania borrows money to keep unemployment fund going

According to the state of Pennsylvania has resorted to a short term loan from the federal government to keep the unemployment insurance benefits going to the jobless in the liberty bell state.

Department of Labor and Industry spokesman Troy Thompson said Friday this will be the third time in the last six years that Pennsylvania has had to seek such a loan.

The problem is that more people are seeking benefits after being laid off, while shrinking payrolls mean less is being paid into Pennsylvania's unemployment compensation trust fund.

Debit Cards used in place of unemployment checks rip-off the jobless

According to the AP there are 30 states that use or require the usage of debit cards so that the jobless can get their weekly unemployment compensation.

Large banks like Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup and US Bancorp strike deals with the states and then frequently charge fees on the jobless ranging from a $0.50 "balance check" fee to a $20 over-draft fee. The over-draft fee is especially hurtful, b/c the the banks could just as easily prevent an overdraft from occurring by issuing an "insufficient funds" message at the ATM.

The banks justify these fees as a convenience---but nickel and diming the jobless isn't the best way to start or maintain a banking relationship.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Jobless in Indiana to get a $25/week raise

According to the AP:

Indiana unemployment benefits get $25 boost

INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana residents who collect unemployment benefits will receive an extra $25 a week as a result of the federal economic stimulus package.

Gov. Mitch Daniels announced the increase Thursday.

States that participate in the program with the U.S. Department of Labor will be reimbursed for its cost. Officials say that could be as much as $185 million for Indiana.

Those who collect state or federal unemployment benefits will start receiving the extra money March 2. The increased benefit could last through the end of the year.

The average weekly benefit in Indiana is $290, while the maximum benefit is $390 per week.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

~6.5 million people are collecting unemployment insurance benefits

According to the AP nearly 6.5 million Americans are collecting unemployment insurance benefits and in the latest week there was over 600,000 people filing first time unemployment claims.

Of the 6.5 million, 1.5 million Americans are receiving extended unemployment insurance benefits.

Connecticut giving unemployment insurance checks to military spouses

According to zwire the state of Connecticut has recently passed a law that allows for military spouses to collect 26 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits if they have to leave their job to move to a new state, should their spouse get orders to be assigned to a new military base.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Get ready to pay taxes on your unemployment insurance payments

Kiplinger reminds us that the weekly unemployment insurance checks that people are receiving is actually taxable income---So when you start putting together your tax return for this upcoming April 15th, you may be shocked that you need to cut a check to the IRS even though you're unemployed.

Unemployed But Not Untaxed
Wednesday, February 18, 2009; 12:00 AM

For the more than 11 million Americans out of work, tax filing time can be a mixed blessing. For some, reduced income may mean a big refund check just when they need cash the most. For others, tax time can be shocking when they realize that the unemployment checks they have been receiving are taxable -- and they haven't had any taxes withheld.

If you lost a good-paying job late last year, it could mean that you are still in the same tax bracket as when you were employed, says Mark Luscombe, principal federal tax analyst for CCH, a provider of tax information and software.

For example, if you had an annual salary of $120,000 and were laid off in the fourth quarter after receiving $90,000, there's a good chance that you'll still be in the 28% federal tax bracket. Plus, any unemployment benefits you received in 2008 probably will be taxed at that 28% rate. "It may not seem fair given that you're not working, but the income tax rate is based on your total income, whether you earned it from salary or unemployment benefits," Luscombe says.

Those who have been unemployed for a longer period probably will be in a lower tax bracket. But they, too, are required to report all income and pay taxes based on their overall income level.

Unemployment/Underemployment Rates vs Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae Delinquency Rates

Given Barack Obama's Stimulus Package and efforts to curtail the amount of mortgage foreclosures that are occurring in the market place, I thought it would be an interesting exercise to compare the unemployment rate and underemployment (U6) rate in America with the mortgage delinquency rates that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are experiencing.

Looking at data for 2006 - 2008, you can see the impact of a vicious feedback cycle. As people get delinquent in their mortgages, banks and other investors have to write assets down and constrict credit, this feeds into the economic contraction which causes more companies to scale back on headcount and hours worked--causing increases in the unemployment rate and underemployment rate.

Click for a Larger Image

In my opinion, as you look out into 2009 (and 2010) the economic contraction and credit crunch will continue to cost people their jobs--and this will cause an escalation in delinquent loans throughout 2009 and part of 2010---It will hit conforming loans, Alt-A loans, sub-prime and jumbo mortgages.

Expect Helicopter Ben to try and solve much of the problem by printing more money and trying to push long term rates near all-time lows.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Highlights of Obama's Stimulus Package (Including COBRA subsidies)

Today the USA Today had an article that outlined some of the key points on Barack Obama's economic stimulus package and how it would impact Americans.

The story highlights:
  • $8,000 Tax Credit for first time home-buyers
  • Deducting the sales tax on new car purchases
  • $2,500 Tax Credit for parents who pay for their child's college education
  • $2,400 of Unemployment Insurance benefits are tax free
  • 65% reimbursement for COBRA health care insurance payments during the first 9 months of unemployment.
Now many of these benefits have income limitations, so be sure to read the tax rules carefully.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Even Lawyers Are Feeling the Pinch of Layoffs

According to the Boston Herald even lawyers are starting to get the pink slips and feeling the pain of this recession:

Law firms laying off 1,000
Goodwin Procter axes 74
By Christine McConville | Friday, February 13, 2009

It’s the legal world’s Valentine’s Day Massacre: American law firms just eliminated some 1,000 jobs.

“It’s been a crazy day,” said Elie Mystal, editor in chief of the legal industry Web site Above the Law, which has been tracking the layoffs.

With the economy in the dumps, the mergers and acquisitions that required legal expertise just aren’t happening. And the loss of revenue has forced many businesses to scrutinize their costs. So for a handful of reasons, law firms aren’t getting the amount of work they used to.

“Once the deals dry up, there’s not as much need for man hours,” Mystal said.

Since the start of 2009, he has reported on about 2,000 job cuts at law firms. Then yesterday, he tracked an additional 1,000 cuts.

Those cuts included 74 layoffs at the Boston-based Goodwin Procter.

Montana now gets Tier 2 Unemployment Insurance Benefits

This story is from the AP:

Second tier of unemployment benefits available

By The Associated Press

HELENA - Some of Montana's unemployed qualify for a second tier of benefits, under a package taking effect this week.

Montana is one of 33 states where rising loss of work has triggered an additional level of emergency unemployment compensation. These federally funded benefits provide up to 13 weeks of payment to people who exhaust their regular and emergency unemployment compensation before April 5, and are ineligible to begin a new claim for benefits.

The Montana Department of Labor and Industry says people eligible for the money are being notified by mail.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Obama's Stimulus package could cover 65% of COBRA health insurance payments

According to US News & World Report the Stimulus package that passed congress this week could cover up to 65% of COBRA health insurance payments for some of the recently unemployed.

What did make it into the final stimulus bill is a provision that provides a 65 percent federal subsidy for COBRA premiums for up to nine months for workers who lose their jobs. Workers laid off between Sept. 1, 2008, and Dec. 31, 2009, would be eligible, and those who were laid off since last September who had initially declined COBRA would have 60 days to elect it. The subsidy isn't available to workers whose income in the year they would receive it exceeds $125,000 for individuals and $250,000 for families. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that 7 million people would keep their health insurance thanks to this provision.

The Recession is Global

According to the writers at UPI the recession and levels of unemployment are reaching levels not seen since the Great Depression.

"This is the worst we've had since 1929," Laurent Wauquiez, France's employment minister, told the Times. "The thing that is new is that it is global, and we are always talking about that. It is in every country, and it makes the whole difference."

The International Monetary Fund said it expects that by the end of the year, global economic growth will reach its lowest point since the Depression.

Officials say the situation is creating social unrest, with high unemployment rates leading to protests in such countries as Latvia, Chile, Greece, Bulgaria and Iceland, and contributing to strikes in Britain and France.

These 15 states have the highest rates of unemployment

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics these 15 states had the highest levels of unemployment in the United States during December 2008. Each of these states also had levels of unemployment that exceed the US average unemployment rate in December, 2008 (7.2%).

They were:
  • Michigan 10.6%
  • Rhode Island 10.0%
  • South Carolina 9.5%
  • California 9.3%
  • Nevada 9.1%
  • Oregon 9.0%
  • Washington DC 8.8%
  • North Carolina 8.7%
  • Florida 8.1%
  • Georgia 8.1%
  • Mississippi 8.0%
  • Tennessee 7.9%
  • Kentucky 7.8%
  • Ohio 7.8%
  • Illinois 7.6%

Unemployment rate rises throughout the US

A reader recently sent me this article that was posted on careerbuilder that gives some pretty interesting statistics on the current unemployment situation in the United States.

The latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics* showed six states recording rates of 9 percent or more. Overall, 10 states had significantly higher jobless rates than the average and 18 had similar rates. Michigan recorded the highest unemployment rate at 10.6 percent, followed closely by Rhode Island at 10.0 percent.

The largest numerical decrease in employment since November 2008 was in California, which lost 78,200 jobs, followed by Michigan, New York, Illinois, Indiana and North Carolina, respectively. Idaho saw the largest percentage cut in employment since December 2008 (1.6 percent), followed by Michigan, Hawaii and Indiana.

All 50 states and the District of Columbia had considerable jobless rate increases since December 2007. Rhode Island had the highest rate increase over the year (4.5 percent), followed by Arizona and Idaho (4.3 percentage points each), Michigan (4.1 percentage point each) and Indiana(3.7 percent). Nine other states and the District of Columbia recorded increases of 3 percentage points or more since December 2007 and 36 states had smaller, but still significant, increases.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Dilbert---gets hired back at a lower wage

Pay your income taxes on your 2008 Unemployment Insurance Compensation

According to ABC Action News you better be paying taxes on your 2008 Unemployment Insurance benefits---Or else the IRS will come after you:
The IRS (I-R-S) considers unemployment benefits to be income, which means you will have to pay taxes on them. Taxable unemployment benefits include state unemployment insurance benefits; benefits paid from the Federal Unemployment Trust Fund; railroad unemployment compensation benefits, disability payments from a government program; Trade readjustment allowances under the Trade Act of 1974; benefits under the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978; and benefits under the Disaster Relief Act Amendments of 1974. The various state unemployment offices report paid benefits to the IRS with a copy furnished to the taxpayer. Should you be tempted not to report them, be advised that every year the IRS questions millions of taxpayers because there were discrepancies between what had been reported by employers, banks, brokers, and others and what showed upon individual taxpayer returns. Also, you can choose to have the federal income tax withheld from your unemployment compensation. To do this, you'll need to complete Form W-4V (W-4-V), a Voluntary Withholding Request; give it to the paying office, which will then withhold tax at 15 percent of your payment. These notes are meant to be a general guide to federal income taxes.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Unemployment Insurance Claims--Adjusted data

the folks at calculatedriskblog have published an interesting chart that shows how the continuing claims and initial jobless claims look over the last 35 years when you adjust for growth in size of the workforce.Click for a larger image

Obama's Stimulus Plan's impact to the unemployed

According to the USA Today the Obama stimulus plan contains several provisions that will help the unemployed including: (1) Raising the weekly unemployment insurance benefit (2) Maintaining the Tier 2 extended unemployment insurance program (3) No taxation on some of the unemployment income and (4) subsidizing COBRA or other Health Insurance plans for the unemployed.

Here's a bit of the story:

THE SAFETY NET: Jobless get a little extra help

Many of those who are unemployed will get a boost from the stimulus bill, including a $25 increase in weekly benefit checks through 2009 that should help not only those who are out of work but the broad economy as that money gets spent.

Currently, the nationwide average weekly check to those receiving unemployment benefits is $295.05, ranging from $179.08 in Mississippi to $408.28 in Hawaii, according to the National Employment Law Project.

Increasing payments is a good way to stimulate the economy, because, "You can get money into the hands of people right away," says Michael Hicks, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University. And people who are unemployed are likely to spend it.

More than 4.8 million people were collecting unemployment benefits at the end of January, up 78% from a year earlier and the highest since records began in 1967, the Labor Department said Thursday.

The bill includes other measures to help those who have lost their jobs. They:

•Lengthen the period in which people can be eligible for extended unemployment benefits. The program, which provides up to 33 weeks of extra jobless benefits after workers exhaust the regular 26 weeks received in most states, was passed last year and was set to expire at the end of March. Under the stimulus bill, the extended benefits would be available through the end of 2009. The NELP estimates this will help about 3 million people.

•Provide money to states that agree to make benefits available to more workers. That would help at least 500,000 people, including some low-wage and part-time workers, who wouldn't otherwise receive unemployment benefits, the NELP says.

•Suspend the taxation of unemployment benefits up to $2,400.

The measure also helps the unemployed and others by increasing the maximum monthly food-stamp benefit by 13%, which lawmakers estimate will help 31 million Americans, half of them children. And the bill provides a subsidy to cover 65% of a worker's COBRA health insurance premiums for up to nine months. COBRA lets workers continue their former employer's coverage for at least 18 months.

By Barbara Hagenbaugh

Washington State to Increase unemployment benefits

According to the AP the Washington State legislature is set to increase the unemployment insurance payouts to thousands of Washingtonians.

The bill would boost the minimum weekly benefit amount from $129 to $155, and all unemployed workers would receive an additional $45 a week.

That makes the minimum payment $200 per week, and the maximum $586.

The temporary increases would take effect May 3 and end with claims filed on or before Jan. 3, 2010.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Newark New Jersey's Unemployment Rate surpasses 11%

According to Forbes the unemployment rate in Newark, New Jersey reached 11.3% in December 2008.

This is significantly higher than the state's 7.1% unemployment rate.

Click on Chart for Larger Image

More than a Quarter of Unemployment Claims are Disputed

According to the Washington Post the amount of unemployment insurance claims that are being disputed is reaching record highs---Over a quarter people filing for unemployment are having their former employer say that they either were fired for cause or quit.

The employer has incentive to dispute claims because the amount that they are taxed is partly based on the number of employees they have laid-off.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

7 States have borrowed money from the Feds to pay unemployment insurance benefits

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According to the Department of Labor there are 7 states which currently have run out of money in their unemployment funds and have been forced to borrow money from the feds in order to keep the unemployment insurance checks flowing.

  • The state of Michigan has already borrowed almost $1.2 Billion
  • The state of Indiana has borrowed $351 million
  • The State of New York has borrowed over a quarter of a billion dollars
  • Ohio has borrowed $186 million
  • South Carolina has borrowed $123 million
  • California has borrowed $113 million--and is quickly borrowing more.
  • Kentucky has borrowed $39 million
My guess is that with New York and California being the most populous states and having quickly rising unemployment rates will quickly surpass Indiana for the #2 spot on this list---and given time, California could even surpass Michigan.

It's also safe to say that in 6 months time, there will be a lot more states on this list

New York State adds $2 Billion to its unemployment insurance budget

According to the New York Times the state of New York as increased its budget for paying out unemployment insurance claims by $2 Billion... Now the Budget is $5 Billion/year vs $3 Billion/year.

This is because there is now 420,000+ New Yorkers collecting unemployment vs 175,000 New Yorkers last year---and this number is rising by ~25,000 each and every week as New York's unemployment rate hits 7% last month.

The maximum weekly unemployment insurance benefit in New York is $405. Which is lower than it's neighboring states--New Jersey ($584), Connecticut ($576) and Massachusetts ($628)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

4.1 job seekers per job

Here's an interesting post from that shows why the unemployed are having such a difficult time finding new work:
by Frank James

Heidi Shierholz, an economist with the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington think tank funded by organized labor, examined some new government data on job openings and, not surprisingly, found that the ratio of people looking job openings versus the number of jobs more than doubled from Dec. 2007 to Dec. 2008.

Here's her analysis:

This morning the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the Job Openings and Labor Turnover (JOLTS) data for December of 2008. The data show that there were 2.7 million job openings in December, down 6% from November 2008 and down 32% from the start of the recession in December 2007.

While job openings are becoming more and more scarce, the ranks of the unemployed are growing dramatically - up by 47% in the first year of the recession - such that in December there were 11.1 million unemployed workers.

"This means that there were 4.1 job seekers per available job - more than double the number of job seekers per available job at the beginning of the recession, which stood at 1.9 in December 2007," said EPI economist Heidi Shierholz.

The JOLTS data are available by census region. Since the start of the recession, the West has experienced the largest decline in job openings, at 40%, followed by the South (down 32%), the Midwest (down 30%), and the Northeast (down 15%). The West also had the largest number of unemployed workers per job opening, at 4.9, followed by the Midwest (4.8), the South (3.6), and the Northeast (3.6).

Note: Given the 508,000 (FJ: it was actually 598,000) increase in unemployment in January, if job openings experience the same decline in January that they experienced in December, that will translate into 4.6 unemployed workers per job opening in January.

Congress Mulls some changes to the unemployment system

This Article from the AP lays out some potential changes that Congress is mulling concerning unemployment---including increases the weekly benefit, making a portion of the benefit tax free and subsidies to keep up with your COBRA or health insurance payments:

WHO GETS WHAT: Stimulus to pad pockets of jobless

WASHINGTON (AP) — More jobless workers would get fatter unemployment checks longer in the massive economic recovery package moving forward in Congress.

Helping the nation's jobless has not been a controversial part of the stimulus package. Both the House and Senate versions offer an extra $25 a week in jobless benefits to millions of workers through the end of the year. The current average weekly benefit is roughly $300.

It also would keep unemployment checks coming through the end of 2009 for more than 3 million people whose state benefits will run out after March.

The nation lost nearly 600,000 jobs last month, the worst showing in a third of a century, as a vicious cycle of cutbacks by consumers forced ever more layoffs by beleaguered employers. The unemployment rate catapulted to 7.6 percent, the highest in 16 years, and seemed headed for double digits.

The stimulus would give states $500 million to help process the flood of unemployment applications. There's been such a crush that some states are running out of money, forcing them to tap federal coffers to keep sending out unemployment checks. Computer systems in New York, North Carolina and Ohio have been shut down by technical glitches and heavy volume, and labor officials in other states are reporting higher-than-normal use.

The Senate bill also includes a provision that would suspend federal income tax on the first $2,400 that jobless workers receive in unemployment benefits.

"It goes a long way to fill the gaps in the unemployment program, but this is going to be a long recession, so more may be needed down the road," said Maurice Emsellem, policy co-director of the National Employment Law Project in New York.

The stimulus package also would give $7 billion to states that adopt reforms that make it easier for part-time workers, low-wage earners and women qualify for benefits.

Moreover, lawmakers are considering providing health care to unemployed workers, but it's unclear whether the House and Senate can reconcile their differences on this idea.

"Extending Medicaid to these workers would be a huge boost," said Elise Gould, an economist with the liberal Economic Policy Institute. "If they get sick, or someone in their family gets sick, they're going to go totally broke. Medicaid is what they really need."

Lawmakers also are thinking about changes to COBRA — a law that allows jobless workers to pay to keep health insurance from their old jobs for up to 18 months. It's expensive for people to buy that insurance, so Congress is considering whether to offer subsidies to help the unemployed stay insured.

While the stimulus would cushion the blow for unemployed workers, employment prospects are grim. Tens of thousands of layoffs are being announced every week by well-known companies such as General Motors Corp., Pfizer Inc., Estee Lauder Cos., Caterpillar, Microsoft Corp. and Home Depot Inc. Besides job cuts, companies are imposing hiring freezes.

And economists say the worst is yet to come.

Monday, February 9, 2009

South Carolina's Governor thoughts on the economy

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford is on CNN discussing unemployment and the stimulus package.

Jobless Rate Compared to Prior recessions

Time Magazine has published a chart that Nancy Pelosi's office had put together to show the rate of job losses for the past 6 recessions.

It looks like the percent of job lost should surpass the 1981 recession in a few more months. I also believe that if you would take into account the broader unemployment rate (including people working part-time while wanting full time work---This chart would show that the current recession is worse than any we've seen in the last 30 years.

Nissan to Layoff 20,000 workers

This morning Nissan announced that it will be laying off 20,000 people. This equates to 8.5% of Nissan's global workforce.

Read the story here

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The recession helps the Army meet recruitment goals

As I've blogged about before as the unemployment rate increases and the recession continues to linger, the Army is having a much easier time meeting its recruitment goals---even though there are battles being fought in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

Here's a story from the AP:
Military recruiting rises amid recession, layoffs
Services meet goals for first time since Iraq violence spiked in 2004.

RICHMOND — Military recruiters in eastern Indiana say their recruitment figures are on the rise, partly because recently laid-off workers are signing up with Uncle Sam.

Some laid-off workers have visited the U.S. Army's recruitment office in Richmond to inquire about military careers, said Sgt. Greg Lynch, an Army recruiter.

“Yes, our numbers are up, and I suspect some of it is people who have lost their jobs and don't have a lot of alternatives,” said Lynch, who works in the Richmond recruitment office.

Lynch said older men and women are inquiring about careers in the Army, including workers laid off from companies such as Visteon in Connersville and Astral Industries in Lynn.

“The recession and unemployment does help with recruiting,” he said, adding that “Indiana is a patriotic state.”

Many of those people who've been looking into joining the Army are interested in educational and other benefits that come with military service, said U.S. Navy Senior Chief Cesar Diaz, who oversees recruiting for a zone that includes eastern Indiana.

“The young people are coming in for better opportunities, to learn a skill or get an education. They are also looking at money for college,” Diaz said.

Jessica Clark, an 18-year-old who graduated from high school last year, recently came to the Army Recruiting Center in Richmond to talk to Lynch. She's looking at the Army as a way to complete her studies in nursing.

“It's a way to better myself and help pay for college,” she said. “I would also like to travel the world, but ultimately I'm interested in the medical field.”

The New York Times reported in January that recruiting for all active-service and reserve forces met or exceeded recruiting goals during the first quarter of this fiscal year - the first time since 2004, when violence in Iraq was intensifying.

Early numbers for 2009 suggest that enlistments will continue to grow.

The Indiana Army National Guard, which recently returned more than 3,300 soldiers from Iraq, also has seen continued interest in enlistment.

“There are more people who just walk in off the street,” said Richmond recruiter Sgt. Todd O'Neal. “Some are older. Some are ones laid off from jobs.”

O'Neal said he transferred from Connersville, where he helped enlist a 37-year-old woman with a bachelor's degree and another woman who was 40.

The Army in 2006 increased the age of enlistment from 35 to 42.

“You get people from everywhere,” O'Neal said. “It has been up recently. The Guard's big thing is paying for people's college.”

Marine Corps recruiting also has increased, said Sgt. Jay Edwards, a Marine spokesman in Indianapolis.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Keep Your Health Insurance While You're Unemployed

This story was posted on

As the Unemployment Numbers Grow Consumers Seek Help to Find Cost-Saving Alternatives to COBRA
updated 3:45 p.m. ET, Fri., Feb. 6, 2009

ARROYO GRANDE, CA - Many individuals who have recently become unemployed are grappling with the decision of what to do about lost health insurance. Options include signing up for COBRA, venturing into the world of individual medical insurance coverage, or -- even riskier -- going without coverage due to costs. A wise alternative is to seek help from a professional licensed health insurance agent who can help people make the right health care decisions relevant to their own unique situations.

Congress enacted the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, or COBRA, to protect people in the event that they face the loss of medical insurance plans when changing jobs, after the death of the eligible employee, after divorce, or some other life-altering event. Many alternatives to this plan exist, including:

-- Aetna is one of the largest insurance companies in the United States, and offers individual medical coverage in many states. The cost and plans vary significantly depending on individual state laws and business needs. Aetna does business in the private sector as well.

-- Blue Cross and Blue Shield offer health insurance to both companies and individuals. Their rates are usually much more competitive than those offered by other companies.

-- Short-term health care insurance is sold by many companies and can be purchased by individuals through an independent health insurance agent. Coverage on these plans is usually very affordable, but does have its limitations.

-- The key to finding the best health insurance plans is understanding and comparing all of the options that are available. This is made easier by consulting with an insurance agency that represents many health insurance companies.

Unemployed individuals and others in need of health insurance should seek the services of a professional licensed health insurance agent that does business in their state. Agents can provide free quotes and valuable information to help people find money-saving COBRA alternatives.

As recession deepens, Community College enrollment rises

As more and more people lose their jobs, the need to retool themselves ramps up the enrollment at many community colleges have increased by almost 20% year-over-year. Additionally, the higher cost of 4 year-colleges and universities are making community colleges a much more palatable option.

Here's an AP article about this trend towards higher community college enrollments.

Recession sending more students to comm. colleges

Students at New Hampshire Technical Institute  walk top class  in Concord, N.H., AP – Students at New Hampshire Technical Institute walk top class in Concord, N.H., Thursday, Jan. 29, 2009. …

CONCORD, N.H. – College freshman Elizabeth Hebert's choice of a four-year school suddenly got too expensive. George Haseltine already has a business degree, but he concluded after several layoffs that he needed more training to get work.

So, in the middle of this school year, both landed at New Hampshire Technical Institute, which like other community colleges across the country has suddenly grown a lot more crowded.

The two-year schools are reporting unprecedented enrollment increases this semester, driven by students from traditional colleges seeking more bang for their buck and by laid-off older workers.

But community colleges aren't exactly cheering in this down economy: Tuition doesn't come close to covering costs, and the state funds used to make up the difference are drying up.

Final figures aren't in for this semester, but a national group representing community colleges says the average increase from spring-to-spring is dramatic, and similar to what New Hampshire is reporting at its seven schools — a range of 4 percent to 19 percent.

Read the rest of the story here

Friday, February 6, 2009

Broad Level of Unemployment is at 13.9% in January, 2009

The U-6 unemployment rate for December 2008 was also released by the BLS today. This figure includes the unemployed plus all marginally attached workers plus people who are working part-time for economic reasons as a percentage of the civilian labor force---It is also seasonally adjusted.
Click for Larger Image

This chart essentially shows that when you include the underemployed, unemployed and discouraged work-force things are almost twice as bad as what they were 1 year ago.

US Unemployment Rate hits 7.6%

Click for a larger image

The Bureau of Labor Statistics just released the unemployment rate for January, 2009. 7.6% of Americans were unemployed in January, 2009---This is the worst level since 1992.

Additional data release showed that 1/2 of the job losses that occurred in 2008 came in the last 3 months of the year.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Washington to have Unemployment hotline open on Saturdays

For thousands of Washington residents who have been frustrated with endless busy signals from the Washington Unemployment Insurance helpline, there is some hope. According to MSNBC the offices are now open 8:00am to Noon on Saturdays.

The article also listed these helpful bits of information:
A record 90,331 people applied for regular unemployment benefits in December 2008, an increase of about 75 percent over December 2007. Nearly 130,000 Washingtonians currently are receiving unemployment benefits, about 92 percent more than a year ago.

Lee said there are some things claimants can do to avoid delays and reduce the number of phone calls:

1) File your initial unemployment claim online Most people with employment only in Washington within the past two years should be able to use this method.

2) When calling the hotline (800-318-6022), use a landline rather than a cell phone, because there will usually be a wait time that could use up cell-phone minutes. And don't hang up and redial, because it puts the caller back at the end of the line.

3) Provide complete and accurate information in your application, including your Social Security number; the name and address of all of your employers during the last two years, regardless of how long you worked there; the dates you worked for all of your employers during the last two years; and the reason you became unemployed.

4) File weekly claims on Monday through Thursday, avoiding the Sunday rush that sometimes clogs the automated phone system. Weekly claims also may be filed online at for most individuals who have had only one employer in the past two years.

5) Use the automated features on the phone system (800-318-6022) on Monday through Thursday evenings for many routine matters, after the "live" calls are done for the day. Claimants can file a weekly claim (option 1), reopen an existing claim (option 2), find out if their check was processed (option 3), provide an address change (option 4), and obtain information about a benefit overpayment (option 6) without speaking to a live agent.

New Jobless Claims for the week are over 600,000

New jobless claims jump more than expected to 626K

Initial jobless claims surge more than expected to 626,000; continuing claims set new record

WASHINGTON (AP) -- New jobless claims jumped far more than expected last week in an already dismal labor market, and there's no relief in sight for workers as mass layoffs persist.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that the number of laid-off workers seeking jobless benefits rose last week to a seasonally adjusted 626,000, from the previous week's upwardly revised figure of 591,000. The latest total is far more than analysts' expectations of 583,000.

That's also the highest since October 1982, when the economy was in a steep recession, though the work force has grown by about half since then.

The number of people that remained on the unemployment compensation rolls increased slightly to nearly 4.8 million, the most since records began in 1967.

read the rest of the story here

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Unemployment rate worsens in 363 of the 369 Metropolitan Areas

According to the the Bureau of Labor Statistics unemployment rates rose in 363 of the 369 metropolitan areas when you compare December 2008 to December 2007. Only 5 areas had declines in the unemployment rate (and one area stayed the same). Forty areas have unemployment rates over 10%.

El Centro, California had the nations highest rate of unemployment---22.6%. Followed by Merced, California at 15.4%, Yuma, Arizona (15.4%) and Elkhart-Goshen, Indiana at 15.3% .

ADP jobs report

According to the ADP jobs report:
Nonfarm private employment decreased 522,000 from December 2008 to January 2009 on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the ADP National Employment Report®. The estimated change of employment from November to December 2008 was revised up by 34,000, from a decline of 693,000 to a decline of 659,000.

January’s ADP Report estimates nonfarm private employment in the service-providing sector fell
by 279,000. Employment in the goods-producing sector declined 243,000, the twenty-fourth consecutive monthly decline. Employment in the manufacturing sector declined 160,000, its twenty-eighth decline over the last twenty-nine months.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

North Carolina's Unemployment Insurance fund will run out this week

According to the state of North Carolina started this week with $16million of cash in its unemployment insurance fund...

Since it paid out $160million in insurance benefit payments last month, that means that it's a matter of days before the state of North Carolina will have to start borrowing from the feds to keep the unemployment insurance checks coming.

Michigan may have to increase its unemployment insurance tax on businesses

According to Crains Detroit the state of Michigan will likely face higher taxes on businesses in order to compensate for the bulging borrowings to pay for unemployment insurance claims.
State's UI debt may mean higher taxes
Business groups, state look for fed help

LANSING - Michigan employers will face higher federal unemployment taxes next year if the state doesn't repay the federal government loans used to pay unemployment insurance benefits.

The outstanding loans have ballooned to more than $1 billion, and are likely to go higher, as state unemployment continues to climb.

The higher taxes would be used to help repay the loans. Some employers already were assessed higher taxes by the state last month to help defray the interest.

If Michigan or any other state has an outstanding loan balance for two consecutive years, there is an automatic increase in the federal unemployment tax that all employers pay. The tax would continue to increase each year the loans aren't repaid.

The situation has some business interests and state officials looking to Washington for help.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Pennsylvania adds capacity to it's unemployment insurance office

According to the morning call Pennsylvania is adding 300 people to work at its unemployment insurance offices and call centers, and plans on hiring another 200 people in the near future as well.

To deal with the influx of claims, the state added about 300 temporary employees to a core staff of 600 employees at its eight regional call centers, including one in Allentown, said David Smith, a spokesman for the state Department of Labor & Industry.

The temporary workers earn a wage of $14.38 an hour.
The state's eventual goal is to have around 1,100 temporary and full-time employees available to help the jobless navigate their way through the bureaucracy. Some of the new workers include retired state employees who had previously worked in the call centers.
Last month, the Rendell administration announced that it was keeping the call centers open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Sundays. The centers are open daily 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and are closed on Saturday. "By expanding the hours and days for the call-in number, we are continuing to find ways to help our citizens get the financial support they need in these times of economic uncertainty," acting Labor & Industry Secretary Sandi Vito said in a written statement.

The fastest way to register for benefits, officials said, is online at the L&I Web page, Jobless state residents can also call 1-888-313-7284 to submit their applications for benefits.
When they lose their jobs, Pennsylvanians can initially receive up to 26 weeks of state-funded unemployment benefits. After that, they are eligible for up to 33 weeks of federally funded emergency unemployment compensation, Smith said.

World Unemployment Rate

The folks at EconomicPic Data today published a very interesting post on the unemployment rate by country according to the CIA's world fact book.

The nuts & bolts of it, is that by comparison, the United States' unemployment rate of 7.2% (December 2008) is low compared to much of the rest of the world.
Click on Image for larger view

The feds could be subsidizing your COBRA insurance payment in the future

According to this article the congress could be considering:

Under a dramatic, temporary expansion of COBRA, the law that lets the unemployed keep health insurance from their old job for up to 18 months if they pay for it in full, costs would drop by about two-thirds for a year.

Moreover, people who lose a job they've had for 10 years could stay on COBRA at their expense all the way to age 65, when Medicare takes over, if they don't get another job with insurance first. People 55 and over could do the same without meeting the 10-year requirement.