— Posts About Great Recession

Republicans Still Blocking Extended Unemployment Benefits

The House and Senate still have not come to an agreement on extending unemployment benefits for jobless workers.  The federal unemployment provisions for emergency and extended benefits are set to expire during the first week in January.  The U.S.  Labor Department estimates that 3.6 million jobless Americans will lose benefits by March if nothing is done to extend the federal program.  Currently the states finance up to 26 weeks of jobless benefits with the federal government adding up to 73 weeks of benefits, totaling 99 weeks of possible unemployment benefits.  The average unemployed workers is out of work for 41 weeks.  Republicans in Congress seek to reduce the maximum total number of weeks to 59, add unreasonable eligibility requirements, and implement pervasive drug-testing of all unemployed workers.  All of these proposals further prevent economic recovery, undermine the spirit of the unemployment system, and essentially tar the unemployed as drug addicts.  Republican obstructionism and inaction has reached a critical point, and without action on these issues the nation will face even greater hardship than the Great Recession has already inflicted.  More coverage here.

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Disturbing Trend of More Temporary Workers

The New York Times highlights a disturbing trend that has occurred during the Great Recession: the greater percentage of workers being hired as temporary employees instead of permanent ones.  Temporary workers often get lower wages, have little or no benefits, less job security, and less chance of promotion and a lasting career.

This is obviously bad news in the short term, but the possibility that this could be a long term feature of the economy is even more troubling.  Unfortunately, Japan provides an example of exacting this occurring.

To make matters worse, unemployed workers who get employed by shifting careers often end up with lower wages and a less satisfying job.   This all goes to the show that the Great Recession is not just a dire crisis for the unemployed, but also a crisis for many employer workers as well.

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Millions to Lose Unemployment Benefits, Even if Extension Passes; New Course of Action Needed

Even if Congress manages to extend emergency unemployment benefits for more the millions of workers who could receive them, about four million others will see their benefits end over the next year, unless an entirely new program is created.  This is according to a report recently issued by the President’s Council of Economic Advisers.  So, the crisis facing some now is going to be experienced by even more later, unless serious job-creating actions are taken.

You would think that the latest, terrible monthly jobs report would convince those in power that the Great Recession continues unabated, doing terrible damage to working families.  Those unemployed for long periods face especially long odds of finding work in today’s economy.  And, even for those with good jobs, wages are continuing to be cut as even profitable employers take advantage of the ongoing crisis for workers.

Misguided worries about the budget deficit are allowing Republicans and the Deficit Commission to pursue Social-Security-cutting, Medicare-slashing, job-destroying agenda instead of a program that can end the Great Recession and put people back to work.  A new course of action is needed, and responsible policy options are out there.  For instance, check out the program set out by Our Fiscal Security, a collaborative effort of Demos, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), and The Century Foundation (TCF).

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Decreasing Wages Continue Trend that Helped Cause Great Recession

Several recent articles highlight both the continuing pressure on workers’ wages as well how decreasing wages helped cause the Great Recession in the first place.

This article points to a troubling reality that even for those unemployed people fortunate to find a new job, that new job often means a decrease in wages and living standards.

This article describes how the entire annual increase in health care costs is being borne by employees with employer health insurance instead of being borne by the employers.  This is but one example of the skyrocketing cost of health care over the years has eaten away at any wages gains for the working class.

Finally, this extremely insighful op-ed by former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich describes how the generation-long erosion of working class wages helped fuel the debt boom that ended in the Great Recession.  Unless and until serious measures are enacted to improve the wages of the working class, we will not experience a sustainable recovery or return to general prosperity.

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Mott’s Strike Highlights Pressure on Workers

A strike at the Mott’s apple juice plant in New York highlights a significant issue besides the pay for these particular workers, as noted by this New York Times article: “The union movement and many outsiders view the strike as a high-stakes confrontation between a company that wants to cut its labor costs, even as it is earning record profits, and workers who are determined to resist demands for wage and benefit givebacks.”

The parent company here, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, is not alone in making large profits even as workers earn less and less.  Our economy, however, cannot start growing again on a sustainable basis unless workers’ wages increase.  The Great Recession shows that families need higher wages to prosper in the long run instead of relying on more and more debt.

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