Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ford Offers Payment Protection Plan

If you've been putting off buying a car because you're scared of losing your job, you may want to consider buying a Ford, Lincoln or Mercury.
Today Ford announced a plan that will cover up to $700/month in your car payments for up to 1 year, should you lose your job. This plan has a higher coverage level than the similar plan announced by Hyundai earlier this year.

Monday, March 30, 2009

WSJ Unemployment Rate Graphical Tool

The folks at the Wall Street Journal have created an interesting graphical tool that looks at the unemployment rate by state from 2005 to 2009 and compares the jobless rate to the overall United States average.

The tool is easy to use and compare your state to others in the nation. The Sample in the screen shot, shows the State of North Carolina, and how it used to track the national average, but in 2008/2009 the jobs situation in the Tar-heel state has worsened significantly more than the national average.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

7 States have Double-Digit Unemployment

As of February, 2009---There are seven states with 10%++ rates of unemployment, and you can be sure to expect more once the March Figures are reported.

The 7 states with the highest unemployment are:

• Michigan ...12%
• South Carolina ...11%
• Oregon ...10.8%
• North Carolina ...10.7%
• California ...10.5%
• Rhode Island ...10.5 %
• Nevada ...10.1%

49 States had unemployment worsen in February, and only Nebraska had it's unemployment rate decrease in the month. (It fell to 4.2%)

Friday, March 27, 2009

South Carolina's Unemployment Rate leaps to 11%

According to Forbes, South Carolina's unemployment rate has jumped to 11% in February 2009---This is up 10.3% in January, 2009 and the worst level since 1983.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

New Jersey's Unemployment Rate surges past 8%

According to the Philly Business Journal New Jersey's unemployment rate jumped to 8.2% in February 2009---That's up almost a full percentage point from January's 7.3% unemployment rate for the Garden State.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

13 States won't get Tier 3 unemployment benefits

According to the San Francisco Gate there are some states that have laws on the books that prevent them from being able to give the jobless an additional 20 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits that were included in the Obama stimulus package.

According to the story:

The states are Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Tennessee.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

400 New Jobs in California

Unfortunately, these are jobs at California's Employment Development Division (EDD)---The state is hiring 400 additional employees to help people understand their unemployment insurance benefits---and to help reduce the wait times on the telephone when people start getting the busy signal.

This article also mentions that California is spending $77 million per day at paying out unemployment insurance benefits.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Detroit's Unemployment Rate tops 22%

According to the Detroit Free Press, the unemployment rate in Michigan's largest city has climbed to 22.2% as of January 2009. This is the highest unemployment rate in 26 years.

The unemployment is likely to rise in February 2009, just as the US rate rose. To make issues worse for the recently unemployed in Detroit, Blue Cross Blue Shield is raising the rates it is charging people for health insurance in the Wolverine State.

In a little bit of positive news for the city of Detroit, Jay Leno has decided to perform 2 free shows at the Silver Dome for the unemploed.

See an updated post about Detroit's unemployment rate here.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Michigan's Blue Cross-Blue Shield to Raise Rates

According to the Detroit Free Press Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is going to raise health insurance rates on new customers starting April 1, 2009.

The increase in fees will not impact existing customers, but as more and more Michiganders are added to the unemployment rolls and shopping around for a health insurance alternative to COBRA, they will be less likely to be able to afford Blue Cross/Blue Shield coverage.

I recommend that Michiganders price out Assurant health insurance in addition to COBRA and BC/BS.

Jobless in Indiana to get Tier 3 Unemployment Insurance

According to MSNBC, the jobless in Indiana who deplete their 59 weeks of unemployment insurance may become eligible for additional unemployment insurance benefits. But the benefits will have some strings attached.

Specifically, the jobless will need to apply for at least 3 jobs each week--AND, if offered any job paying minimum wage, they will have to take it, or stop receiving their unemployment checks.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

California Legislature shoots down extra unemployment funds from the federal stimulus

According to the LA Times the California legislature has rejected a bill to accept $2.5 Billion of Obama federal stimulus money that would extend unemployment insurance benefits jobless Californians.

California has an unemployment rate that surpasses 10%, and the bill would have provided an additional 20 weeks of unemployment insurance payouts to the jobless---Helping an estimated 260,000 Californians.

(Don't feel too bad, according to the article people already get 59 weeks of unemployment compensation in the state.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Unemployment is causing people to rush or delay surgeries

The NY Times has produced a very good story that covers what the unemployment crisis in America is doing regarding people's health care.

Some people are are scrambling to schedule medical procedures prior to losing their jobs---While others are delaying/canceling elective surgery---even if they are still working.

Eye Doctors have seen a 5% reduction in corrective eye-surgery, and plastic surgeons have seen over a 30% reduction in business. In the past, spending a few thousand dollars on a nose job competed with other discretionary spending (like vacations)... Now such procedures are competing with keeping up with the mortgage payments and establishing a few months worth of cash as a "safety net".

36% of Americans Are Concerned about Unemployment

According to a report on cnn.com 36% of Americans are most concerned about the unemployment situation in the U.S.

This is up significantly from the 13% of Americans who felt the same way in April 2008.

Texas to Decline Stimulus Funds to help the unemployed

According to the USA Today Texas Governor Rick Perry is declining stimulus money because receiving such funds would result in the need to raise taxes on businesses.

Texas which has a 6.4% unemployment rate, was expected to receive over $500 million dollars, but the Governor was hesitant to be forced into covering part time workers with unemployment insurance, because once the stimulus package were to run out--the state of Texas would then need to either reduce benefits or raise taxes.

According to the article:
Led by Republican Governors Association chairman Mark Sanford of South Carolina, a group of conservative GOP governors has rejected or considered rejecting the unemployment money or other funding from the $787 billion stimulus package. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Haley Barbour of Mississippi, and Bob Riley of Alabama also have rejected the unemployment money.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Half of Americans will run into financial problems after not getting a pay check for 4 weeks

According to a study released by Met Life, 50% of Americans are just 2 paychecks away from not being able to meet their financial obligations. The data also shows that the youngest workers (Gen X & Gen Y) are most likely to run into financial difficulties with-in 4 weeks of losing their jobs.

This data is sobering and reinforces the negative feedback cycle---As more people lose their jobs, more people are cutting their spending and getting foreclosed on their homes---this causes more companies to lay-off more people.

Unemployment Rate By State

The NY Times Blog has posted this handy little graphic to show the state of Unemployment in the United States as of January 2009. At the time, the US unemployment rate was 7.6% and Michigan had the highest rate (11.6%) and Wyoming had the lowest unemployment rate (3.7%)---As you can see on the map, things are worst in the West, the South and Midwest--all where manufacturing and construction jobs have dried up. The mid section/great plains of the US seem to be having less of an unemployment problem than the rest of the US.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Weekly Jobless Claims Report

According to data released today the weekly initial jobless claims continue to be greater than 650,000.

654,000 jobs were the week ending March 7, 2009, this raises the 4 week moving average of jobless claims to 650,000. And continuing jobless claims has set a record at 5.32 million workers.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

These 10 States have the Highest Rates of Unemployment

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released data today for the January, 2009 unemployment rates by state... These 11 states have the dubious distinction of having the highest unemployment rates in the U.S.

  1. Michigan ---11.6%
  2. South Carolina -- 10.4%
  3. Rhode Island -- 10.3%
  4. California--10.1%
  5. Oregon -- 9.9%
  6. North Carolina --9.7%
  7. Nevada -- 9.4%
  8. Indiana -- 9.2%
  9. Ohio -- 8.8%
  10. Florida -- 8.6%
  11. Georgia -- 8.6%
  12. Tennessee -- 8.6%
To compound the issues 23 states experienced at least a 1 percentage point increase in unemployment in one month---And EVERY STATE experienced an increase in unemployment (December 2008 vs. January 2009)---Clearly the unemployment trend is geographically broad and deep.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

7.5 unemployed & underemployed people for every 1 available job

According to Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were over 4 unemployed people for every 1 job opening.

As of the end of January there were only 3 million job openings in the United States, while in February 2009 there were 12.5 million Americans unemployed and given that the U6 unemployment rate (which includes people who are working part-time, but want to work full-time was at 14.8% in February vs. the 8.2% headline unemployment rate, means that (roughly speaking) there are 7.5 (unemployed/underemployed) people looking for work for every 1 job opening.

But that is even better than what I expect is actually the case for 3 reasons
  1. There are significant amounts of people with jobs that may be looking to switch jobs to a more secure company.
  2. The "3 million job openings" data is for January, while the unemployment rate is February--Odds are this figure got lower in February & March.
  3. Even if a company has a job opening, they may be acting very slowly to fill it...
So in my opinion, instead of 7.5 job seekers for every 1 job opening, there likely is really closer 15 - 20 people looking for every single job opening.

Jobless in Tennessee to get $25/week more

According to the Nashville Business Journal people who are receiving unemployment insurance in Tennessee will receive an extra $25/week courtesy of Obama Stimulus package.

This brings the maximum weekly unemployment payment in Tennessee to $300/week---which is a good thing, because prior to this Tennessee had the 5th cheapest weekly payout in the United States.

According to the business journal story, the $25 payment will be retroactive to the week of February 28th---So people will receive a one time bump of $75 in order to make up the payments.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Florida Cell Phone Companies Block Calls to the Unemployment Hotline

According to the Miami Herald several wireless phone companies, including Alltel have blocked calls made from their mobile phones to the state of Florida's Unemployment Insurance line.

This is because the Florida Unemployment Line delivers so many busy signals, the phone companies decided to block it (along with many other chronically busy numbers)...

The best advice, is to use a land-line (if you have one), to call the State of Florida's unemployment hotline---or else get a new cell phone provider!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Unemployment---It Could Be Worse

Even though things are bad here in the US with unemployment above 8% for the first time in years, things are worse across the world:

The United Kingdom's unemployment could reach over 10% later this year according to the BBC

South Africa's unemployment rate drops to 21.9% (Bloomberg).

But what is interesting is that the unemployment rate is actually lower in France (7.8% according to the AFP).

Florida's Unemployment Rate Jumps to 8.6%

The jobless situation in Florida continues to worsen. According to Forbes, the sunshine state's unemployment rate reached 8.6% in January of 2009---The highest rate since 1982's high of 8.9%.

The unemployment rate in Florida was also 1 percentage point higher than the National Average for January (7.6%).

There were 100,000+ fewer jobs in the construction industry in January, 2009 in Florida vs. January 2008---Clearly this is the result of a slowing real estate market as new construction homes are only trickling onto the market.

One small bit of good news for the jobless in Florida is that the Governor has signed up to receive funds that will increase the weekly unemployment insurance check by $25/week courtesy of the Obama stimulus package.

COBRA Health Insurance Q&A

Today the San Francisco Gate has published a little Q&A regarding COBRA health insurance coverage during your unemployment---including answers to questions regarding how Obama's 65% COBRA subsidy is handled.

If you're recently unemployed, be sure to check out this Q&A, as it may be able to save you some money.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Unemployment Rate Surges to 8.1%, Underemployment Leaps to almost 15% in February 2009

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the unemployment rate in the US jumped to 8.1% in February---This is slightly worse than expectations, and the report also contained revisions to January and December 2008 that made the unemployment rates in those months higher as well. The 8.1% unemployment rate also marks the highest level seen in over 25 years.

In the last year, 5 million more Americans have become unemployed, an increase of 3.3 percentage points.

The U-6 unemployment figure (Which includes people who are working part-time but really want to work full time---sometimes called the underemployment figure) surged to 14.8% in February, up from 13.9% in January.

How good is your state's unemployment insurance reserve?

The folks at IBM's many eyes have produced this interesting chart which shows the "Average High Cost Multiplier"---essentially how long the state's unemployment insurance reserves would last if funds were depleted at a rate that equals the worst rate in the last 20 years with no incoming revenue.

The darker the color, the better the reserve situation is.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Michigan's Unemployment Rate Surges to 11.6%

According to the Detroit Free Press the state of Michigan's unemployment rate surged to 11.6% in January 2008 vs (a revised) 10.2% in December 2008.

This comes on the heals of General Motor's Auditors mentioning the possibility of bankruptcy in the firms 10-K filing with the SEC and Ford Motor Company continue to cut jobs.

Nevada to offer another 13 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits

According to msnbc the state of Nevada now offers 13 weeks of "State Extended Benefits" (SEB)---let's call it Tier 3 unemployment insurance.

This is for jobless Nevadans who have exhausted the state's regular unemployment benefits and the federal governments emergency extended benefits.

The program started 2/28 and Nevada will contact those people who are able to participate.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Citi launches mortgage program to help the unemployed

According to Marketwatch, Citibank has announced a plan that may help some of the recently unemployed cope with the loss of a paycheck by temporarily lowering their mortgage payment.

If you qualify, your mortgage payment may be as low as $500/month for 3 months while you look for a new job.

This comes on the heals of Citibank's February 12th announcement of a foreclosure moratorium.

Ford Motor Company employee count 2004 through 2008

One of the largest sources of unemployed workers in the last 4 years has been the auto industry. If you look at Ford Motor Company's employee headcount, you'll see that it has fallen from ~300,000 employees in 2005 to 213,000 at the end of 2008. That's a decrease of over 29% in 3 years. And it also trickles into the supplier base, and dealer base as well. (One item to note, 16,000 jobs removed from Ford in 2008 represent employees associated with Jaguar and Land Rover which were sold off in the second half of 2008)---Ignoring those 16k employees, employment at ford dropped ~24% from 2005 to 2008.

Click for a Larger Image

If you look at where those workforce changes have come from, you'll find that a few business units have actually grown their employee base since 2004. Specifically, Ford of South America has grown from 12 thousand strong to 15 thousand, and Ford of Europe has grown its workforce by 1%. (Again, if you look at the Ford Employee Count for their Premier Automotive Group (PAG) in 2004 of 51,000 employees and compare it to the year end figure of 24,000 in 2008, you have to realize that 16,000 Jaguar & Land Rover employees were removed via the sale of the brand.

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Overall, Ford has dropped 28% of its workforce since 2004---With the Premier Automotive Group (PAG--The luxury car group) dropping by 53%, and Ford Credit dropping by 44%, and Ford North America down by 57 thousand people, or a 37% drop.

What I found most surprising is that if you ignore the 16k Jaguar and Land Rover employees who were cut due to asset sale (i.e. are working for a new company), Ford Motor Company only cut employee headcount by 7% in 2008, while US Industry Sales dropped ~18% at the same time (16.5million units in 2007 vs. 13.5 million units in 2008)

Source: Ford Motor Company 10-K filings and Investor Presentations & http://unemploymentadvice.blogspot.com analysis.

Monday, March 2, 2009

New Yorkers to Receive $25/week more in unemployment insurance payments

According to fox23news.com New York's Jobless who are receiving unemployment insurance payments can expect to receive an additional $25/week courtesy of the Obama Stimulus Plan.

State labor officials expect the federal stimulus package to provide more than $2.1 billion to help unemployed New Yorkers.

That money will increase all weekly unemployment benefit checks by $25, extend benefits from 26 to 59 weeks, make the first $2,400 exempt from federal taxes, and cover 65% of COBRA funding.


The changes to benefits started on March 1 and will continue through the end of May 2010.

Jobless in Connecticut to Get $25/week more--from Obama's Stimulus

According to thehour.com Connecticut's Governor Rell announced that the state's unemployed who are collecting unemployment insurance payments will see a $25 increase for amounts filed this week.

According to the article, the Governor had this to say,
"I am also pleased that job-seekers in our state will continue to be eligible for additional help from the federal government if they aren't able to find work quickly," the governor said. "In November, Congress offered an additional 20 weeks of unemployment assistance to all states and 13 more weeks on top of that to states where the unemployment rate was at 6 percent or more -- a distinction that unfortunately includes Connecticut. Eligibility for those 33 weeks of extra aid was scheduled to expire at the end of March -- but under the stimulus bill, eligibility for the aid will continue through December 31."

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Tips for Jobless Nevadans to not get gouged by Debit Cards

With 8.4% of workers in Nevada being unemployed and 94% of Nevadans receiving their unemployment insurance benefits via a debit card, it's important to know how to receive the most of your benefits and not get gouged by debit card feeds.

Realizing the bad press that these unemployment benefit debit cards have received in the press the Nevada Department of Employment released these tips.

All participants can access deposited funds through a variety of methods including:
  • Unlimited free cash withdrawals at bank tellers of financial institutions bearing the Visa logo
  • Unlimited free cash back transactions on retail purchases where offered such as grocery stores
  • Utilizing the debit card to make purchases or payments on-line and
  • Two free ATM withdrawals per month at Wells Fargo or 7-Eleven ATMs.
Debit cards are charged $1.25 for each withdrawal at any other ATM besides Wells
Fargo and 7-Eleven ATMS, Jones said.

Wisconsin's Unemployment Rate Jumps to 7.6%

According to the Milwaukee Business Journal Wisconsin's unemployment rate surged in January to 7.6%--This is up 1.8 percentages points from December, 2008---And as you can see in the chart below, significantly higher than the 4.4% unemployment rate that Wisconsin saw in January 2008.

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“The jump in Wisconsin’s unemployment rate underscores the economic challenges we face as a nation and why we are taking strong action through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to put people to work,” Workforce Development Secretary Roberta Gassman said. “In his budget, Governor Doyle has set a path for recovery, and here at DWD, we will do our part to help provide training and connect skilled workers with employers.”

Executive Pay to Hourly Wage---A NY Times Story

It's important that behind every one of the millions of Americans that are counted as an unemployed or underemployed statistic is a person--a family who has there own unique experiences and challenges that they are facing during today's tough times.

The NY Times has an interesting article today that portrays several jobless people who are working either part-time or at low-paying hourly jobs (compared to their prior salaries), just to cover their expenses.