Lending A Lifeline To The “Funemployed”


Did you know that, according to J.D. Mullane in yesterday’s Bucks County Courier Times here, that “unemployment compensation discourages a substantial number” of people from finding work,” and that a cause of that could be that our beloved commonwealth doesn’t require proof that the unemployed have actively sought work?

Or that two economists produced a report in the ‘80s “show(ing) that a week before unemployment checks lapsed, about 4 percent sought work. A week later, job seeking spiked to 30 percent…it’s elementary economics. If you pay someone not to work, they won’t”?

And it gets even better – the “funemployed” can attend an “Erotic Writing Workshop” in their spare time (based in San Francisco, of course).

All of this was published in what purports to be a daily newspaper read, ostensibly, by adults (with Mullane also supporting Repug PA gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett’s assertion that the unemployed simply aren’t looking for work hard enough, featured in an ad by Corbett’s challenger, Dem Dan Onorato, here; Mullane dutifully ignores the part of the ad telling us that 800 people recently showed up at a Bucks County job fair that advertised 100 positions).

Meanwhile, for the reality point of view, I give you this from Jane M. Von Bergen of the Philadelphia Inquirer (there aren’t many reasons to read that paper any more, but she is one of them)…

Longtime software developer Malinda Ward has a Drexel degree in computer science. But after 17 months without a job, the programs she looks at today have more to do with feeding her family than with managing a company’s network capabilities.

She now knows, for example, that on Thursdays a homeless shelter in Coatesville distributes “extra vegetables, or they’ll hand out some food that has expired that day.” Free bread and cakes are available another day.

“Oh, I’m definitely scared,” said Ward, 48, who lives in West Brandywine Township with her four children and her husband, William, who also doesn’t have a job right now. Her unemployment benefits, $566 a week, ran out July 3.

Sue Kaiden, a professional career counselor and longtime volunteer with Joseph’s People, a support group for the unemployed, worries about their job prospects.

“Employers are saying, ‘We don’t want to hire you because you’ve been out of work so long,’ ” she said.

Her comments were buttressed by Peter Gioacchini, a senior director of talent acquisition at Cigna Corp., who said his company always looked for the best talent – and often those people are employed, not unemployed.

That’s the kind of thing that bothers Paul Beckmann, 63, of East Rockhill Township, a designer and draftsman who has been out of work since April 2009.

According to the Rutgers study, and another one by the Pew Economic Policy Group, people in his age bracket tend to have the hardest time finding another job. Nearly 30 percent of those who lose their jobs are out of work for more than a year, Pew found.

“I think the supervisor stuff is hurting me more than anything,” said Beckmann, who once earned $80,000 a year but now would accept much less.

And I don’t suppose it should be necessary to point out what is contained in this excerpt, but I will anyway…

Since December 2007, Congress has passed a series of extensions, known as tiers, to stretch the typical 26-week unemployment benefit an additional 53 weeks, with the proviso that funding would begin to peter out at the end of May. Twenty more weeks had been added in many high-unemployment states, including Pennsylvania.

Those opposed to another extension say the country simply can’t afford it. And some assert, as did Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett, the GOP gubernatorial candidate, that the benefits encourage people to stay at home instead of looking for work.

Public-policy professor Carl Van Horn, Zukin’s coauthor, disagrees.

“In a strong labor market, when unemployment is low, having an unemployment benefit does contribute slightly to the unemployment rate,” said Van Horn, who directs the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers.

But that’s absolutely not the case in this prolonged recession, he said, with nearly one in 10 workers out of a job and many more underemployed or discouraged.

Gosh, you mean none of them are “funemployed”? Why, whatever will J.D. say in response?

Also on the subject of unemployment, Mikey Fitzpatrick, running for the U.S. House seat he once held in PA-08 against Patrick Murphy, sent one of his foot soldiers to a recent job fair hosted by our congressman (here)…

Of 26 (hiring) participants, six were schools or job search entities more interested in selling services than offering jobs (Delaware Valley College provided a listing of primarily part-time openings from its website). Five more were insurers or pyramid operations looking for commissioned sales people.

A “pyramid operation,” huh? Want to try naming the ones you’re talking about to warn people?

Of course not, because if you did, you’d probably get sued.

Continuing…

These employers showed up to help Murphy even though they didn’t have many jobs to offer. When one was asked why he was at the job fair, he replied, “Because my congressman asked me to come.”

And of course, that’s proof of a patronage operation by a Dem, as every good Repug knows.

The author then goes on to blame Murphy because there weren’t as many jobs there as the author (and probably everyone else) would have preferred, though the companies did collect resumes in the event that funding became available for more positions. Which to me begs the question, how the #@!$ is Murphy supposed to be responsible for the hiring decisions of these employers?

(As an aside, I should tell you that I have attended job fairs that were little more than exercises in resume collection to obtain attendee demographic information for marketing purposes. I’m not sure how any politician can be blamed for that either, as opposed to the participating companies themselves.)

Fortunately, Murphy himself responded to this individual yesterday here, saying (in part) the following…

…in a stunning display of cynicism and arrogance, the accompanying guest opinion on this page, written by a campaign worker for Mike Fitzpatrick, mocks the job fair as a “stunt” and a waste of time. It belittles the job offerings as mostly “entry-level” positions. Jobs like security guards. Or health caregivers. Apparently, these careers aren’t good enough for Fitzpatrick. No doubt job seekers will be hurt and insulted by the characterization. My father still works as a security guard, as he has for over a decade. It’s an honest job that he’s proud to have, one that puts food on the table and pays the bills.

Maybe those in the Fitzpatrick camp have been living under a rock for the past couple of years. Otherwise, it’s hard to understand how they could be so incredibly out of touch. Eight years of failed Bush economic policies put American families through the wringer. Those economic policies, which Congressman Fitzpatrick supported, cost our country 8.2 million jobs. Families have seen their 401(k)s devastated and college savings accounts depleted.

Fitzpatrick talks a lot about creating jobs, but he’s stood against the very investments that are necessary to grow our economy. He opposed tax credits that helped green energy companies like Gamesa expand – the same company with a table at my Saturday event announcing 10 open positions.

He opposed tax incentives that helped Y-Carbon expand and move to Bucks County, another company with a table at the job fair looking for engineers and managers for its spin-off companies.

The truth is, Fitzpatrick isn’t just out of touch with what folks are facing today. He simply never has and never will make it a priority to fight for middle-class families.

Also, here is more information on Murphy and jobs (and to reward good behavior, click here).

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