Friday, July 31, 2009

40 Years of UI Continuing Claims

Click on Image for a bigger chart.

So just how many people are collecting unemployment insurance benefits? As of July 2009, there are more then 6 million Americans collecting UI benefits---This is a record high amount and there is several reasons for this. First, the population is bigger than it has been in the prior 40 years and the amount of availabe workers is also larger than what it was in the decades past. Additionally, many more states are offering extended UI benefits--Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 benefits can stretch benefits out to over 70 weeks in many states.

Nonetheless, there just aren't that many jobs out there and the continuing claims is bound to decrease in the coming weeks---aided of course by people finding jobs, but also from people exhausting all of their benefits.

Looking at the chart, you can see that sometimes continuing claims plateaus and other times it shoots down as fast as it shot up---what will this great recession do? It's anybody's guess---but I feel comfortable in guessing that it will stay above 5 million people for at least another year.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Could Michigan Get Tier 4 Unemployment Insurance

According to the Detroit Free Press senator Carl Levin wants to push legislation that would give Michigan (and any other state with over 9% unemployment) an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits.

That would bring the number of weeks of unemployment benefits to over 80!

Monday, July 27, 2009

1 Week Left to Take Advantage of Sears' Jobless Financing Plan


The retailer Sears is offering a plan that provides some peace of mind. If you spend over $399 on your Sear-Citibank credit card through August 1st, and within the next 60 days to 1 year, you lose your job, Sears will make the monthly payments.

Now for those of you who are already jobless this won't do much good, but if you know of people who are working for a company that is likely to lay-off many workers and they happen to need a new appliance, they should definitely consider looking into Sears for this program.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Unemployment Cartoon

This Scott Stantis cartoon (Birmingham News) from July 15th poetically shows a crowd outside of the unemployment office saying, "The president assures us the stimulus package is working, pass it on"

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Nevada Sets Record high unemployment rate

According to KRNV, Nevada's 12% unemployment rate in June set an ALL-TIME record, with Reno at 11.8% unemployed and Las Vegas at 12.3% unemployed---the major cities are the ones shedding jobs the fastest.

Currently, 170,000 Nevadans are out of work, and hoping that things turn around soon.

California's unemployed now at 11.6%

The unemployment rate in California is now at 11.6%--and is climbing at a slower rate. However, some are concerned that as CA can't balance it's budget, it will be forced to lay-off thousands of government employees (such as teachers, police, and other gov't jobs).

Monday, July 20, 2009

Are you Eligable for the COBRA Subsidy for the unemployed?

From business wire:

Web Site and Toll-free Line Will Help Unemployed Workers Appeal Denials of COBRA Premium Assistance Under Recovery Act

WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today announced a new Web site and helpline (1-866-400-6689) where certain unemployed workers may request expedited review of a denial by their former employers of eligibility for COBRA premium assistance under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).

CMS has contracted with MAXIMUS Federal Services, Inc., a subsidiary of MAXIMUS, Inc., to review requests for expedited review of denials and make recommendations — subject to CMS’s review — on whether individuals are eligible for health insurance premium assistance under the Recovery Act’s expansion of COBRA continuation coverage. MAXIMUS will also answer questions about the premium assistance program and the expedited review process. Contact information for the Web site and helpline is provided below.

To help displaced workers maintain health care coverage for themselves and their families, the Recovery Act provides a 65 percent subsidy for health insurance premiums for workers who have elected COBRA after they have been involuntarily terminated from their jobs. “COBRA coverage” generally refers to the continuation of coverage provisions of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA), which apply to employers with twenty or more employees. The ARRA-established subsidy is also available to eligible Federal, state, and local government employees, and, if state law requires certain continuation coverage, to workers for private sector employers with fewer than twenty employees.

The Recovery Act’s premium assistance applies to periods of continuation coverage beginning on or after February 17, 2009 (when ARRA became law), and lasts for up to nine months.

To qualify for premium assistance, a worker must be involuntarily terminated between September 1, 2008, and December 31, 2009, and elect continuation coverage. The subsidy ends when the worker is offered any new employer-sponsored health care coverage or becomes eligible for Medicare. Workers who were involuntarily terminated between September 1, 2008, and February 16, 2009, but who failed to elect COBRA coverage at that time, most likely because it was unaffordable, or who elected COBRA after September 1, 2008, but let it drop because it was unaffordable, would be given an additional 60 days after employer notifications are released to elect COBRA and receive the subsidy.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Illinois' June Unemployment Rate tops 10%

The ranks of the unemployed in Illinois swelled to 10.3% in June 2009---That's 0.8 percentage points greater than the national average (9.5%) for the same month.

The state lost 5,400 construction jobs and 2,800 manufacturing jobs in June. The total number of unemployed Illinoisans in June was 683,300. That's more than in any month since November 1983.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

How Many Weeks of Unemployment Insurance Do I get?

cnn has published data that shows how many weeks of UI benefits unemployed workers are eligable to receive. Wyoming gets the least amount of weeks (26 weeks), and a multitude of states are eligable for Tier 2 or Tier 3 benefits that could bring benefit checks coming for up to 79 weeks.

As of June 2009, the states that qualify for 79 weeks of UI benefits include:
  1. California
  2. Nevada
  3. Oregon
  4. Michigan
  5. Colorado
  6. Minnesota
  7. Wisconsin
  8. Indiana
  9. Ohio
  10. Kentucky
  11. Georgia
  12. North Carolina
  13. Alaska
  14. Florida
  15. New Jersey

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Michigan unemployment rate jumps to 15.2% in June 2009

Click on Image for a larger chart

According to the Detroit News, the unemployment rate in June for the state of Michigan jumped to 15.2% in the month of June. This is a 110bp jump from the 14.1% jobless rate seen in May 2009.

The ranks of the unemployed continue to swell in Michigan as GM and Chrysler and their suppliers slog through the bankruptcy process.

As bad as things are in Michigan, things are even worse in Detroit---where the May unemployment rate topped 25%.

And the state as whole has already borrowed over $2 billion from the federal government to keep making unemployment insurance payments to the swelling ranks of laid-off workers.

Mendota California---Almost 40% Unemployed

Here's an interesting youtube clip about how tight water controls in California are causing tough times in California's bread basket. Farms outside of Fresno have gone fallow and "George" speculates that as farming and construction jobs continue to disappear in this part of California, you'll see a reverse migration that was seen during the Dust-Bowl migration of the Great Depression (i.e. people will be forced to leave California and move to the midwest, and south where there is more water and more jobs).

Thursday, July 9, 2009

California Food Stamp Usage Up 20%+ In One Year

According to the California Department of Social Services, the number of Californian families recieving food stamps has grown by over 20% in the last year. In April, 2008 there 940,000 families recieving government assitance for the food stamp programs and by April 2009 it was up to 1,150,000 families receiving benefits.

Click on Chart for a bigger image.

You can see that the increase in foodstamp usage correlates with the steady increase in the unemployment rate. And as the great recession continues to slug along, you can be sure that both California's foodstamp usage and number of unemployed workers looking for jobs will continue to increase.

Unemployed Floridians to get 79 weeks of UI Benefits

According to, Floridians may be elligible to recieve up to 79 weeks of Unemployment Insurance benefits. You can apply to receive these Tier 3 UI benefits today.

The unemployed people will be eligable for these benefits on a case-by-case basis thanks to legislation that was signed into law by Barack Obama and Governor Charlie Crist.

Prior to the summer of 2008, Floridians were only eligable for up to 26 weeks of UI benefits. Then Tier 2 benefits were automatically provided bringing coverage levels to 53 weeks of benefits.

Now, the new program is on a one-off basis and is subject to when the person became unemployed, how long he worked and what their salary was before losing their job.

The agency will send eligible recipients the proper paperwork in the mail and is also accepting applications via its Web site at

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Detroit's Jobless Rate at 25%

Click Image for a Larger Chart

According to the Michigan Department of Energy & Labor, in May 2009 Detroit saw it's jobless rate hovering at 24.7% (up almost 2 full percentage points from April 2009, and almost 10 percentage points in the last year).

This compares to Michigan's unemployment rate of 14.1% in May 2009 and the US Average hovering at around 9.4% for the same time. Clearly times are tough for motown, and with auto-sales still at multi-year lows, and Auto-makers and Auto-Suppliers filing for bankruptcy (GM, Chrysler, Lear, Visteon, etc...) it'll be some time before Detroit and Michigan start seeing a decline in the jobless rate and the ranks of the unemployed in this rustbelt state will be higher than the national average for years.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Will Higher Minimum Wage lead to higher unemployment?

According to cnn, the federal minimum wage is set to increase from $6.55/hour to $7.25/hour on July 24, 2009. This is the first raise in quite some time and will only occur in states that have less than $7.25/hour rates currently--All told, this effects 29 states.

You can see on the table to the left which states have the highest minimum wage (Washington, Oregon, Vermont, California, CT, IL, MA, Nevada, New Mexico, Michigan, Rhode Island, Ohio and Colorado)---It's interesting to note that many of these states have extremely high rates of unemployment already, and according to economists there is a risk that when the price of labor goes up---the demand for labor goes down. This could cause yet more increases in the unemployment rate in the US during Q2 and Q3 2009. (Watch out 10% here we come!)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Art Cashin Sees 11% Unemployment

Art Cashin, director of Floor Operations for UBS, and frequent CNBC contributer today announced his views that the unemployment for the United States will easily breach 11% later this week.

June 2009 Unemployment Rate Tops 9.5% / U6 Unemployment at 16.5%

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for June, 2009 has climbed to 9.5%. The bad news is that this is the highest rate in almost 3 decades---The good news (??) is that it only climbed 0.1 percentage points since May 2009---In my mind this could mean it will be around September before the unemployment rate possibly crests across the 10% mark.

Click on Chart for a Bigger Image

The U6 Unemployment Rate (which includes the unemployed, the underemployed, and the discouraged) rose to a record high of 16.5% (records only go back to 1994)

According to Reports 467,000 jobs were cut in June 2009, while the continuing claims data actually decreased---But Continuing Claims dropped by 53,000 to 6.7 million---at first glance this may seem like a good thing---But I believe that the amount of people who have used up all of their UI claims more than made up that 53,000 person decrease.