Unemployment: End of the rope for people, not numbers
- During the recent economic downturn, 8 million people lost their jobs.
- 290,000 jobs were added in the month of April (a supposedly “surprising” gain).
- The national unemployment rate jumped back up to 9.9 percent.
- 17.1 percent are underemployed.
- In March, Arkansas’ unemployment rate was 7.8 percent (107,300 out of the 1,370,200 workforce. April numbers aren’t posted yet).
Let me translate this into language that even I can understand. First, there are 50 states in the United States of America. The number of unemployed in Arkansas is 107,300 while all the economists and politicians are whooping it up about adding 290,000 jobs. I don’t understand the excitement.
The jump back up of the national unemployment rate is believed to be “because of a significant increase in the number of people who had previously given up deciding to look for work again.” What, pray tell, does that mean exactly? How in the world can “they” possibly track who is and who is not looking for work?
All these percentages and numbers are making me dizzy and, dare I say it out loud, nauseous.
Do you remember back at the end of February, beginning of March when the media had a heyday with the fact that Congress was going on break before voting on the necessary legislation to keep in place the existing unemployment extensions? On March 2, the president signed the Temporary Extension Act of 2010, leaving the extensions in place until April 5. Lo and behold, April 5 rolled around, the extensions ended once again, only this time, no media coverage. Why not?
Well, the president signed the Continuing Extension Act into law on April 15. Call me crazy, but shouldn’t those names be reversed? Because, again no media drum-roll, these extensions cease to exist on June 2.
Let me repeat:
“On April 15, 2010, President Obama signed the Continuing Extension Act of 2010 which temporarily extends the EUC and FAC programs through June 2, 2010.”
Before you go off on a conservative rant in reaction to what is obviously a, um, worrisome point to me, think about a few more things, would you?
The amount of unemployment an individual gets per week is based on what that person earned the first 4 of the last 5 quarters. If a claim was opened today, for example, the first 4 of the last 5 quarters is all of 2009. The amount of the highest quarter is divided by 26, and that’s the amount of the weekly unemployment check. That amount is exactly half of the gross wages earned.
Forgive me for not paying closer attention, but wasn’t 2009 smack-dab in the middle of this “Great Recession?” Not many folks made a whole lot of money last year if they managed to keep the job they had or found another one if they joined the long line of unemployed. Regular unemployment runs 26 weeks at the max end, and the extensions, at their cap, maybe, just maybe, gave another 26 weeks. Here, add this up with me: 26 + 26 = 52. A year.
At the end of this month, the extension period ends. The end of the rope is now.
So think about it. The jobs added in April would put Arkansas and maybe another state back to work. That is it. All the people unemployed last year won’t have any more unemployment to draw, even if they worked at a company for 30 years prior to that company closing its doors (Maytag, Kohler, Bausch Lomb, etc.).
I hate numbers. 9.9 percent. Sales tax is almost that high, so it’s no big deal, right? Wrong. Chances are good that if 9 of your friends are employed, then you are the 1 that is unemployed.
People aren’t numbers! Every single one of that 9.9 percent that is unemployed has to live somewhere, heat a place in winter, buy groceries and put gas in the car. How else is that possible without working?
Oh. That’s right. They fall off the map and into the “homeless” category. How convenient for the number crunchers.
So, you do the math. The numbers just aren’t adding up for me. Why? Because, you and I aren’t numbers. We are people.
White County resident, freelance writer, photographer and blogger. Email her, visit her at A Bumpy Path and Out in the Back Yard for more neurotic enlightenment and visual stimulation.