Stimulus Speaks to the Unemployedby Tim Manni
Another 598,000 Americans lost their jobs in January, raising the total to 3.6 million since the recession began in December 2007. With the unemployment rate currently at 7.6%, analysts continue to forecast that the unemployment rate will exceed 9% by 2010.
Opinions aside on whether or not the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act” will promptly provide jobs or economic rejuvenation, there are significant measures written in to support the 7.6% of Americans who are currently unemployed:
The measure, which congressional leaders hope to finish next week, currently proposes:
- increasing and extending unemployment insurance;
- expanding coverage to more low-income and part-time workers;
- subsidizing health insurance coverage;
- and recharging state unemployment insurance trust funds, which are running dry as layoffs climb.
Good News for States
Five states are currently borrowing from the Federal government to pay their unemployment benefits. The current version of the stimulus would provide states some breathing room by waiving the interest on such loans. Click here to view the White House’s list of state-specific benefits.
The Real Problem
While some experts aren’t discounting the peril Americans are facing due to massive layoffs, they are arguing that layoffs aren’t the job market’s worst problem. It’s the lack of hiring:
“The hiring rate has caved. That’s why the job market is as bad as it is,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist with Moody’s Economy.com.
Through November, the number of layoffs was up 17% from year-earlier levels. But the amount of workers who were hired during November was down 26%, and the number of job openings tumbled 30%.
While the proposed economic-recovery plan is making sure it’s reaching out to the unemployed, will it do enough to reverse, perhaps the even-more dangerous, hiring freeze?