With economists such as Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff coming up with a forecast that won't have unemployment easing until well into 2012, and Richard Trumka, President of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. saying essentially the same thing, it would seem that for the 16 million unemployed of this country, a rocky road is still ahead.
This is why, on the last leg of my final federal unemployment extension (having exhausted state benefits some time ago), I was heartened to hear that Congress passed bill HR 3548, which allows unemployed folks like me 14-20 more weeks of unemployment. Good news, right?
I'm currently working a temp position, ending the end of this month. Therefore, I deemed it important to speak with someone at the NY unemployment office to make sure I had my ducks in a row. I first called about two weeks ago, and spoke with a very nice (but relatively uninformed ) woman who told me to call back once Congress passed HR 3548, and that due to reasons she couldn't properly explain, I might not be able to resume claiming unemployment benefits.
A couple weeks later, once the bill passed, I spoke with another kind state employee- this time a chap- who told me that once my job was over, just to resume making my weekly claim, and that all was good.
Yet I've always been highly suspicious of good fortune. Because I had been told two different things: 1) I might not be able to comtinue claiming; 2) I would have no problem continuing to claim- I called yet again.
Yesterday, I spoke with a dismissive woman who told me that I would definitely be able to resume claiming. I asked how much longer I had to claim in my last extension (the one before HR 3548), and also made sure to ask again if I am eligible to claim the new extension. A week, she answered, to the first question. And a firm yes, she replied, to the second.
Today, however, I found the glitch, in a NY Times article.
Another bill presented before Congress has not passed... HR 3404, would extend unemployment benefits from 2009 into 2010. Without being passed, the 14+6 extended weeks (which one can't start claiming before November 15th), can no longer be claimed after December 27th. Yes, you're reading this correctly: If HR 3404 doesn't happen, neither does HR 3548.
This is one time I wish my intuition hadn't been correct.
Certain members of congress have vowed to fight to get HR 3404 passed. I will certainly write my Congress Person- this much power I do have- to appeal for passing this simple fix. However, with all of the health bills that have/are being presented, and with recess only weeks away, this bill must be a priority in order to even be revisited.
I could bitch about Republican obstructionism and all manner of other things, but that won't really help. Believe me, I'm pleased as punch that HR 3548 will give me at least a couple weeks of unemployment benefits before the end of the year. But without the reauthorization of federal extensions into 2010, I'm pretty much screwed.
Happy New Year!!
With 16 million unemployed, I'm clearly not alone in banging my head against bricks. We currently have the highest unemployment, it would seem, since 1982, although many are saying it is the worst since the Great Depression.
I don't know about the rest of the country, but here in NY, things are at a real low-point for us unemployed folk. Although the official jobless rate is a little over 10%, if you count ALL of the unemployed (i.e. those not collecting checks and those who can only find part-time employment), the number is above 17.5%.
Here in Williamsburg, I dare you to conduct a little experiment: Ask people on the streets whether or not they're working. If about one out of six is sans employment, then it would seem as though 17.5% would be correct.
Williamsburg and Greenpoint are broken up into a couple different congressional districts. The Congree Person for my zipcode (11211-5174, if you feel so inclined to stalk me) is Nydia Velazquez, the Representative of the 12th Congressional Destrict of NY. Please click here for all of her contact info. There's a special 'Write Your Rep' system. Use it- it's the fastest way, apparently, to reach her.
Unsure of who your rep is? Or, *gasp*, you don't live in my 'hood (shame!), click here to find out.
Friends, if HR 3404 doesn't get reviewd/passed, will you please help me find a job, donate money into my depleted/empty bank account, or hook me up with someone wanting to buy a kidney. I'm THIS close to considering selling one on the black market.
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