Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Unemployment Woe in Williamsburg

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.


  1. thanks for the link to the rep. I am hoping it all gets cleared up otherwise I, too, am screwed in January...

  2. I am in the exact same situation. I just contacted Congresswoman Velazquez as you suggested, since I also live in the 11211 area. I pointed out that many people do their hiring at the beginning of the new year because they just had their yearly budgets approved. we need to be able to keep claiming into 2010 so that we can ride this whole thing out.

  3. I join the queue of those who have benefits about to tun out as of January 1. I am also going to email my senators and anyone else I can think of. Extending the benefits was BS without changing the laws and THEY ALL KNEW IT. Read what fool Harry Reid said in this article:

    While I agree HC reform is important, keeping people in their homes and apts is moreso. I cannot believe they cannot take some time away from HC and deal with this issue. Until this job crisis is over, I believe HC should be put on the back burner.

  4. Looks like I'll be writing Harry Reid, too. Thanks for the article. Here's his contact info:

    Let's bombard his intern with messages.

    Good luck, to all of you!

  5. Ive been on unemployment since getting my hours cut in 1/2 Aug 2008. I was then permanently let go/laid off in Sept 2008. The following DEC I was able to get season work for 10 weeks that ended this past Feb 2009. Because I was already on my first claim when I got the season job my benefits ran out on that Aug 2009. My contact person here at the local ESC office emailed me and said I was automatically eligible for a 2nd claim solely based on the seasonal job I got. These benefits are to end sometime Dec 2009. In the meantime I am awaiting a response from Raleigh ESC on this new extension. Also I am going back to work at the same job (seasonal) for at least 3-4 weeks. Our state has one of the highest unemployment rates right now and I pray that this new extension gets passed. I have worked since 1979 and never been out of work until getting laid off last year. It has been a horrible experience and very demeaning to say the least. Thanks for all your information.

  6. I just spoke with two people this morning at the unemployment office. The first hollered at me for trying to figure out all the dates, extensions, etc. "You people want to know everything," she said. "But we're not allowed to tell you everything." Um, huh?

    The second person was very informative- he told me that although this most recent extension is slated to expire Dec 27th, the other extensions- Tiers 1, 2 and 3- will continue into the new year. Is this for real?! This would be amazing news for many... Unfortunately, not for all, who really need the most recent extension...

    Yes, I understand how demeaning all of this feels. The one comfort is that it is not directly our faults- only indirectly, in that for many, many years, this country voted in people who made poor decisions, else didn't regulate banks/hedge funds properly, etc...

  7. Am posting this in two parts as in total it exceeds the limits.

    This is what NY Unem Site shows. Unless it is incorrect, people are wrong about this. This recent extension fall sunder Emergency Unem Compensation (Emergency Benefits) and THEY run out in June 2010.

    EXTENDED BENEFITS, which I am on right now, run out 1/3/10. It all depends on when people started collecting. See below. Then scroll down and see details. READ THIS CAREFULLY.

    See breakdown of the maximum number of weeks a claimant could potentially receive based on the effective date of the Original Claim (OC)*, AND provided that:

    the claimant has been claiming full weeks of benefits since the beginning of the claim and
    there are no breaks in their claim

    *OC effective May 1, 2006 - June 23, 2008 26 weeks of regular UI
    20 weeks of EUC-Tier 1
    13 weeks of EUC-Tier 2
    20 weeks of EB
    14 weeks of EUC
    (13 weeks Tier 3 and 1 week Tier 2)
    93 weeks total

    *OC effective June 30, 2008 - Sept. 8, 2008 26 weeks of regular UI
    20 weeks of EUC-Tier 1
    13 weeks of EUC-Tier 2
    9-19 weeks of EB (payable up to 1/3/10)
    14 weeks of EUC
    (13 weeks Tier 3 and 1 week Tier 2)
    73 weeks plus 9 - 19 weeks of EB based on last payable week

    *OC effective Sept. 15, 2008 - Nov. 3, 2008 26 weeks of regular UI
    20 weeks of EUC-Tier 1
    13 weeks of EUC-Tier 2
    14 weeks of EUC
    (13 weeks Tier 3 and 1 week Tier 2)

    73 weeks total

    *OC effective Nov. 10, 2008 – Feb. 2, 2009 26 weeks of regular UI
    20 weeks of EUC - Tier 1
    14 weeks of EUC - Tier 2
    60 weeks total

    *OC effective Feb. 9, 2009 – June 22, 2009 26 weeks of regular UI
    20 weeks of EUC - Tier 1
    46 weeks total

    *OC effective June 29, 2009 and later: 26 weeks of regular UI only

    * An Original Claim's (OC) effective date is the Monday of the week in which the claim is filed.

    UI = Regular Unemployment Insurance Benefits
    EUC = Emergency Unemployment Compensation
    EB= Extended Benefits

  8. The additional 67 weeks of benefits are currently provided under two separate programs that allow unemployed individuals to continue receiving benefits after running out of their regular state benefits. These programs are:

    Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) – providing 47 weeks of emergency benefits
    Extended Benefits (EB) – providing 20 weeks of extended benefits.

    It is important to note that each program has its own timeframes and deadlines, and therefore, not all claimants are eligible for the full 47 weeks of Emergency Benefits and the 20 weeks of Extended Benefits. See below for the breakdown of each program, and important information and dates related to each: (see chart on maximum number of potential weeks)

    Emergency Benefits are provided under the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) Program. There are currently three (3) tiers of EUC, providing a total of 47 weeks of emergency benefits:

    Tier 1 (20 weeks) – to be eligible for Emergency Benefits under Tier 1, an individual must:

    Have filed initial claim for regular unemployment effective on or before Monday, June 22, 2009.
    Exhaust regular benefits on or before the week ending December 27, 2009
    Start claiming Emergency Benefits on or before week ending January 3, 2010.

    Tier 2 (14 weeks) – to be eligible for Emergency Benefits under Tier 2, an individual must:

    Have filed initial claim for regular unemployment effective on or before Monday, February 2, 2009.
    Exhaust all 20 weeks of Tier 1 Emergency Benefits on or before week ending December 27, 2009.
    Start claiming Tier 2 Emergency Benefits on or before week ending January 3, 2010.

    Tier 3 (13 weeks) – to be eligible for Emergency Benefits under Tier 3, an individual must:

    Have filed initial claim for regular unemployment effective on or before Monday, November 3, 2008.
    Exhaust at least 33 weeks of Emergency Benefits (20 weeks Tier 1 and the first 13 weeks of Tier 2) on or before week ending December 27, 2009.

    Because of timelines under the current federal legislation, some individuals start receiving Tier 3 Emergency Benefits right after exhausting Tier 2 Emergency Benefits, while others start receiving Tier 3 Emergency Benefits right after exhausting Extended Benefits. The reason for this is:

    If you claimed at least one week of Extended Benefits by week ending November 8, 2009, you will continue claiming remaining Extended Benefits before you can start claiming additional emergency benefits.
    If by week ending November 8, 2009, you had not claimed any Extended Benefits, you will then continue claiming any additional Emergency Benefits available to you, and will not be eligible for Extended Benefits.

    ** Note: The last payable week of Emergency Benefits is the week ending June 6, 2010.

    Extended Benefits are provided under the Extended Benefits (EB) Program. There are currently 20 weeks of Extended Benefits available. However, to be eligible for any Extended Benefits, the individual must:

    Have filed their initial claim for regular unemployment benefits effective on or before Monday, September 8, 2008.
    Exhaust 33 weeks of Emergency Benefits on or before week ending November 1, 2009.
    Start claiming Extended Benefits on or before week ending November 8, 2009.

    ** Note: The last payable week of Extended Benefits is the week ending January 3, 2010.

  9. 1) There are economic cycles. Unemployement happens at the downturn and rising employment at the upturn. THESE are inevitable...
    Recessions are normal.

    You can do the right things to ameliorate them...and lessen the impact. OBAMA has NOT..infact he, and FDR have done just the opposite.

    2) I blame Democrats for much of the housing crisis.

    3)Obama and the current mostly democrat spending has prolonged the recession by his /thier ridiculous spedning. had they cut taxes on businesses we would have a robust economy and job creation ALREADY. Instead it may be five more YEARS.

    I taught economics.

    president kennedy voted for the correct recovery methods...other than him, usually it is a Republican to do the right thing in a bad economy.

    4) hedge funds & day trading should not occur..they are not the real culprits.

    5)Most rich folks I KNOW have pulled out of the markets due to OBAMA and PELOSI. They are leaving the US as fast as they can... THEY are overtaxed and OBAMA has milked the cow dry.

    Becareful whom you vote for. I am unemployed since May 2007...and I would never ever ever vote for a democrat..except a very selective one like Evan Bayh.

    I sure as heck would never vote for one in a recession.
    Thanks to the great posters on here...great info and great question.

    Good luck to all...but vote independant libertairian or republican..never democrat
    for economic reasons.
    yeah some Republicans are in your face...but I join them for economuic reasons.
    and the Federal Government should not be involved in the personal value area anyway.

    I guess you need to forget what has happened and look to the future...
    With Democrats in charge we will be taxed and over spent on silly programs, pork and giveaways to death. THINK about all the new taxes OBAMA democrats have discussed:
    national sales tax, tax on healthcare, rich folks surchage on healthcare, tax on the war, elimnation of Bush tax cuts, tax on energy...
    tax on fat people, tax tax tax tax tax tax tax

    the opposite of taxes is savings...
    if you are not xing then you are aving or spending.

    if you (individuals) spend -- it creats jobs...if you save it equals investments and it creates jobs..

    taxes just line corrupt folks...and have a lower multiplier.

    a mulitplier brings more money. Each dollar in payroll, turns around and then the worker buys and spends money, then more jobs are created etc.

    SO LOWERING taxes has ahigher multiplier AND you actually end up collecting MORE federal taxes because more jobs are created, more income tax, etc.

    DO NOT let Democrats make you think they are better for you..Thay are NOT. ESPECIALLY not now.

  10. In Florida you can not even get a hold of the unemployment talk to someone. It is much worse than NY.

    They simply tell you to call a number that is never answered.

    I finally found one live person after weeks and weeks of calls. I just tired one more time at 4 p.m on a Friday.

    Now I have a fax address and some forms I do myself because they never mail them. I probably will lose five weeks of benefits because of delays..but I am very glad to get what I can.

    In Florida we rely on blogs like this one (THANKS) to get answers...

  11. ChristinaGems- I'm always interested in reading viewpoints different from my own. I will say this- I have not found many Republicans I felt had my best interests at heart.

    Most of the 'wealthy' people I know did not pull out of the market upon Obama being voted President, but lost money when their funds tanked due to poor government regulation. The fund of hedge funds I worked for fared poorly in 2006 due to the subprime issues (clearly, also not properly regulated!!). (a brief aside- the fact that people got rich off betting against plummeting (and already problematic) subprime mortgages doesn't seem very ethical, does it... but that's just my own personal judgment call)

    Interesting, that during some of the fat years, while hedge funds were 20 and 5, they were not subject to the city's unincorporated business tax (which small businesses, independent contractors and freelancers ARE subject).

    Concerning this tax loophole, the Huffington Post wrote: "Hedge fund and private equity managers pay a 15% capital gains rate on the multimillion dollar fees they collect- substantially less than the top income tax rates paid by their secretaries, chauffeurs, and the pilots of their private planes."

  12. The fact that Obama wished to start taxing these people appropriately doesn't make me angry at all. What makes me angry is that the Republicans filibustered the proposal. (although, yes, Democrats were also nervous about this idea of this passing... They were concerned about being taxed, too)

    GOPers during the Reagan era who wanted to 'pad the bank accounts' of the uber-wealthy started the whole 'government is evil' myth (I recently saw this written as a comment on someone else's page and thought it was spot-on). Hm, shouldn't we start questioning how poorly regulated the private sector has been? Under GWBush, I saw my tax dollars go straight into private contractor's (i.e. Halliburton) pockets. God, it could have been a bad novel... Only it wasn't. Welcome to America!

    We all remember how large the deficit the Bush legacy left for Obama to deal with, correct?

    I don't mind paying taxes if it means I benefit. When my money is directed to the correct places- towards government programs that assist poor and middle class people, I'm pleased as punch.

    Taxes aside: After Bush, who forced the US to retreat from democracy, Obama's administration is much more transparent and appears to once again be working towards the diffusion of power and working alongside the constitution. Even if I get taxed, at least I don't feel I'm being coerced into believing unconstitutional lies.

    All of us unemployed folk are in it together. For the New Year, I hope Obama will continue to be the ethical president I believe him to be, and that his administration will make wise decisions that will affect us hardworking people positively.

  13. Tom- thanks for all the info. I did call the unemployment office two more times, and was finally walked through everything by an employee that had been there for awhile. It's true, not ALL the benefits are ending at the end of the year- we need to read carefully...

    Christine- yes, it is very difficult to get through at the unemployment office. Here in NY, I spent over an hour on the phone the other day to find the answers I needed. I spoke with one total dud who said she'd connect me through to someone else, and then spent nearly 1/2 hour having to wait it out again.

    I'm trying to remember that all of this is temporary... Breathe!!

  14. (the above should have read Christina, NOT Christine)

  15. Thanks tomL for the info. i called two weeks to find out what the deal was and i was told by two different people that i was one of the lucky ones seeing that i filed on june 22 of this year so now i get the additional 20 weeks the EUC tier 1. but when i went on the website to file today i seen that there is a New Unemployment Benefits Calculator that went into effect today. so i put my date in 6/22/2009 and it now states that i only get the 26 weeks UI and nothing more. whats the deal with this. do i or don't i get tier 1 now?

  16. alright i called the NYDOL this morning and i was able to confirm that i am going to get tier 1 and that the new calucator is buggy.

  17. help! i understood from a woman at the unemployment office this summer that i was supposed to get 73 weeks of benefits (this was of course before the extension of 20 weeks this fall). my initial claim was filed on dec 7, 2006. i ended up working freelance for about 6 months in 2006, and was instructed by the unemployment benefits website to file a new claim on dec 7, 2007. i did so. i ended up getting 6 months of freelance work in 2008, and was instructed, again, by the ui website to file a new claim on dec 7 2008. i did so on dec 7 2008.. now 2009 has been miserable - i've only worked 2 weeks the whole year. i am trying to segue into a new career - i worked in magazines and they are quickly dying off, almost impossible to find work in for me - so i am looking towards possibly getting into video/web stuff. anyway, i was counting on the 73 weeks, + 20 weeks, to get me through. i was instructed again this year by the UI website to file a new claim on dec 7, which i did. i wanted to confirm that i was indeed getting 93 weeks of benefits, instead of just 73 - (like you, melissa, i wanted the doublecheck!) anyway, the woman i spoke to told me to use the new benefits calculator on the website and check it, that she could not help me. i did so, and it came up with 60 weeks! after spending literally 3 1/2 hours calling them and not getting through, i finally did get to speak to a human. she said i was indeed only entitled now to 60 weeks, that legislation had been passed and currently that was what i would be able to get. this all seems very fishy to me. before this new system i was supposed to get 73 + 20 weeks, now i am cut to 60? i am interested in your take on this, if you guys have any recommendations for unemployment lawyers, and does anybody else think that this new system is possibly a scam set up to cut people off from benefits they were supposed to get, to save the govt/state money? by the way, i have been working very hard at looking for work as well as teaching myself web/video editing software, shooting
    video free to segue into a new way to make money for myself, etc. am at my wit's end trying to figure out how i am going to eat and pay for my apt. oh and i am also in williamsburg :) rebecca

  18. We are so screwed. I am just so pissed off that our government, who knew this was coming just does not seem to care. I received my last check yesterday and unless something happens fast I am going to be homeless, accruing more debt, no car insurance etc etc

    And how do they rationalize covering some peoples asses but not others? Just because we didnt meet a certain deadline we arent afforded the same help? Helllllllooooo we are in the exact same financial situation as the day before.

    Oh yeah and I am in CA, cant reach a live person at all. Even the thought of it is a joke. Good luck all


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