Tag Archives: unemployed

The BIG LIE re: U.S. unemployment figures

By Chris Horton

In case you missed it, the headline on Gallup CEO Jim Clifton’s blog for Feb. 3 reads: “The Big Lie: 5.6% Unemployment.” https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/big-lie-56-unemployment-jim-clifton

The “5.6% Unemployment” Clifton refers to is of course the December official (U-3) Unemployment Rate from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

He goes on to argue why this measure is misleading and destructive, and concludes:

“There’s no other way to say this. The official unemployment rate, which cruelly overlooks the suffering of the long-term and often permanently unemployed as well as the depressingly underemployed, amounts to a Big Lie.

“And it’s a lie that has consequences, because the great American dream is to have a good job, and in recent years, America has failed to deliver that dream more than it has at any time in recent memory. A good job is an individual’s primary identity, their very self-worth, their dignity — it establishes the relationship they have with their friends, community and country. When we fail to deliver a good job that fits a citizen’s talents, training and experience, we are failing the great American dream.

“Gallup defines a good job as 30+ hours per week for an organization that provides a regular paycheck. Right now, the U.S. is delivering at a staggeringly low rate of 44% , which is the number of full-time jobs as a percent of the adult population, 18 years and older. We need that to be 50% and a bare minimum of 10 million new, good jobs to replenish America’s middle class.”

Most people struggling with this job market agree with Mr. Clifton’s characterization of the Official Unemployment Rate as a Lie.

Today’s figure is “little changed at 5.7%.”

Whatever, we can’t attach it much meaning, not just because it’s misleading, but because changes in it are so strongly affected by people giving up their job search or re-entering the job market based on nothing more than discouragement or hope.

The proclamation and use of these numbers is a disaster at many levels, not least because they are being used to drive policy and budget decisions being made right now by our new Governor.

A better set of statistics from the BLS, which however do not address the quality of the jobs that Mr. Clifton refers to, is the Employment Population Ratio.

Today’s BLS Release for January gives the Employment-Population Ratio for the US Working-Age Population (age 16+), expressed as a percent, as 59.3%, up from 59.2% in December, 58.1% in January 2014, but down from 64.6% in January 2000.

I agree the trend over the past year has been somewhat encouraging, but as the graph below shows, this is at best the bare beginnings of a recovery. And this 59.3% figure is directly comparable to the Gallup Good Jobs statistic, currently at 44%.

The BLS does not calculate the Employment-Population Ratio for prime earning years (age 25-54), but does report the seasonally-adjusted number of persons employed.

This was reported as 96.5 million employed in January, up from 96.0 million in December and 95.2 million in January 2014, but still down from 100.7 million in January 2007!

These numbers are a disaster any way you cut them, and for people who should know better to call this a recovery is a Big Lie.

Chris Horton is lead volunteer organizer for the all-volunteer Worcester Unemployment Action Group.

Job gains … but many still under-employed

The seasonally adjusted Massachusetts Employment Population Ratio ticked up again in December from 61.5% to 61.7%, up from 59.8% in December 2013 but still far down from the pre-recession high of 64.2% in December 2006 or the pre-dot-com recession high of 66.5% in December 2000.

The Mass Division of Labor and Workforce Development reported today that the official seasonally-adjusted U3 rate, which leaves out those who haven’t applied for a job in over a month, involuntary part time workers, anyone who has never held a job, anyone receiving a pension no matter how small or who is putting in even a few hours of unpaid work on a family business or farm, is down to 5.5% from 5.8% in November and 6.7% in December 2013.

Chris Horton of the Worcester Unemployment Action Group commented: “While these figures and the direction in which they are moving are encouraging, this is very far from showing the healthy job market that the latest official U3 Unemployment Rate figures seem to point to. Many of our members are struggling to get by on part time and marginal work or work far below their skill and education levels for wages far less than they need, but would not be classed as unemployed. We are watching the situation cautiously, hoping this upturn will continue, but we don’t see where the demand for goods and services is coming from that could sustain it, because most of the people we know have no money to spend.”

Michelle Arnhold of Worcester, who described herself as a “highly educated single parent with two special needs children”, when asked of what she thought of President Obama’s claim that the job market is almost back to normal, said:  “That’s inaccurate and uneducated.  If he actually came out of his office and spent a day with us regular folk who are looking and begging for work every day he would think differently.  I’ve been unemployed for two years and I’ve filled out over 200 applications for everything from healthcare to construction, entry level jobs to jobs I have a degree for. I would do any kind of work to support my children but there’s just nothing out there. They need to go back to the drawing board and look a little deeper, and then report actual facts.”

Unemployed workers share Scott Brown’s anti-jobs record

Worcester – Unemployed constituents from the Worcester area sent a loud-and-clear message to US Senator Scott Brown yesterday at Worcester State University: “We won’t be fooled.”

 Dozens of out-of-work residents gathered at the Bay State Jobs Fair to share the junior senator’s multitude of votes against jobs with event attendees. The cast of concerned job-seekers fanned out across the campus, ensuring that area residents knew the truth about Brown’s eight votes to end employment benefits.

They spread the word about Brown’s vote to gut 400,000 jobs for teachers, fire fighters and police officers across the country, as well as his vote to keep 11,000 construction workers in the unemployment line.

And they were sure to point out that Scott Brown did all that while protecting tax breaks for corporations that ship our jobs overseas.

 View photos from the Worcester State University action here  

With Scott Brown already stamping out more than two million jobs in less than two years, unemployed constituents promised to carry their public education effort to future job-related events hosted by the senator or his staff.

Neighborhood meeting tonight, re: the PIP! Please attend! Speak out!

By Rosalie Tirella

Hoping there are a ton of Main South and D-4 residents tonight, 6:30 p.m., at the Worcester Housing Authority building at 50 Murray Ave. for the neighborhood meeting, re: The PIP reopening.

The reincarnation of the PIP, unfortunately, is a done deal. Here’s hoping the meeting, called by D-4 Barbara Haller, draws lots of folks to voice their concerns. Maybe they can actually get City Hall and the WPD to show them some respect.

People, agitate for:

A police substation at the PIP would do a lot to disperse the nefarious types who prey on PIP clients. Also, please demand the planting of trees, sidewalk repair, etc.

If you don’t SPEAK OUT, no one will hear you!

Where Does Occupy Wall Street Go From Here? A proposal from Michael Moore

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


This past weekend I participated in a four-hour meeting of Occupy Wall Street activists whose job it is to come up with the vision and goals of the movement. It was attended by 40+ people and the discussion was both inspiring and invigorating. Here is what we ended up proposing as the movement’s “vision statement” to the General Assembly of Occupy Wall Street:

We Envision: [1] a truly free, democratic, and just society; [2] where we, the people, come together and solve our problems by consensus; [3] where people are encouraged to take personal and collective responsibility and participate in decision making; [4] where we learn to live in harmony and embrace principles of toleration and respect for diversity and the differing views of others; [5] where we secure the civil and human rights of all from violation by tyrannical forces and unjust governments; [6] where political and economic institutions work to benefit all, not just the privileged few; [7] where we provide full and free education to everyone, not merely to get jobs but to grow and flourish as human beings; [8] where we value human needs over monetary gain, to ensure decent standards of living without which effective democracy is impossible; [9] where we work together to protect the global environment to ensure that future generations will have safe and clean air, water and food supplies, and will be able to enjoy the beauty and bounty of nature that past generations have enjoyed.

The next step will be to develop a specific list of goals and demands. As one of the millions of people who are participating in the Occupy Wall Street movement, I would like to respectfully offer my suggestions of what we can all get behind now to wrestle the control of our country out of the hands of the 1% and place it squarely with the 99% majority.

Here is what I will propose to the General Assembly of Occupy Wall Street:

10 Things We Want
A Proposal for Occupy Wall Street
Submitted by Michael Moore 

1. Eradicate the Bush tax cuts for the rich and institute new taxes on the wealthiest Americans and on corporations, including a tax on all trading on Wall Street (where they currently pay 0%).

2. Assess a penalty tax on any corporation that moves American jobs to other countries when that company is already making profits in America. Our jobs are the most important national treasure and they cannot be removed from the country simply because someone wants to make more money.

3. Require that all Americans pay the same Social Security tax on all of their earnings (normally, the middle class pays about 6% of their income to Social Security; someone making $1 million a year pays about 0.6% (or 90% less than the average person). This law would simply make the rich pay what everyone else pays.

4. Reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act, placing serious regulations on how business is conducted by Wall Street and the banks.

5. Investigate the Crash of 2008, and bring to justice those who committed any crimes.

6. Reorder our nation’s spending priorities (including the ending of all foreign wars and their cost of over $2 billion a week). This will re-open libraries, reinstate band and art and civics classes in our schools, fix our roads and bridges and infrastructure, wire the entire country for 21st century internet, and support scientific research that improves our lives.

7. Join the rest of the free world and create a single-payer, free and universal health care system that covers all Americans all of the time.

8. Immediately reduce carbon emissions that are destroying the planet and discover ways to live without the oil that will be depleted and gone by the end of this century.

9. Require corporations with more than 10,000 employees to restructure their board of directors so that 50% of its members are elected by the company’s workers. We can never have a real democracy as long as most people have no say in what happens at the place they spend most of their time: their job. (For any U.S. businesspeople freaking out at this idea because you think workers can’t run a successful company: Germany has a law like this and it has helped to make Germany the world’s leading manufacturing exporter.)

10. We, the people, must pass three constitutional amendments that will go a long way toward fixing the core problems we now have. These include:

a) A constitutional amendment that fixes our broken electoral system by 1) completely removing campaign contributions from the political process; 2) requiring all elections to be publicly financed; 3) moving election day to the weekend to increase voter turnout; 4) making all Americans registered voters at the moment of their birth; 5) banning computerized voting and requiring that all elections take place on paper ballots.

b) A constitutional amendment declaring that corporations are not people and do not have the constitutional rights of citizens. This amendment should also state that the interests of the general public and society must always come before the interests of corporations.

c) A constitutional amendment that will act as a “second bill of rights” as proposed by President Frankin D. Roosevelt: that every American has a human right to employment, to health care, to a free and full education, to breathe clean air, drink clean water and eat safe food, and to be cared for with dignity and respect in their old age.

Let me know what you think. Occupy Wall Street enjoys the support of millions. It is a movement that cannot be stopped. Become part of it by sharing your thoughts with me or online (at OccupyWallSt.org). Get involved in (or start!) your own local Occupy movement. Make some noise. You don’t have to pitch a tent in lower Manhattan to be an Occupier. You are one just by saying you are. This movement has no singular leader or spokesperson; every participant is a leader in their neighborhood, their school, their place of work. Each of you is a spokesperson to those whom you encounter. There are no dues to pay, no permission to seek in order to create an action.

We are but ten weeks old, yet we have already changed the national conversation. This is our moment, the one we’ve been hoping for, waiting for. If it’s going to happen it has to happen now. Don’t sit this one out. This is the real deal. This is it.

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Michael Moore

Suffolk University to host free career seminar for veterans

EOLWD, DVS and Suffolk University to Host Free Career Seminar for Veterans: “Marketing Your Military Service”

Boston – On Wednesday, November 2, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD) and the Department of Veterans’ Services (DVS) will partner with Suffolk University to host a free Career Seminar for job-seeking veterans.

The full-day seminar, “Marketing Your Military Service,” will provide the advice, resources and tools necessary for job-seeking veterans to properly maximize Massachusetts’ resources available for veterans entering or returning to the workforce.

Secretary of Veterans’ Services Coleman Nee as well as Suffolk University’s Acting President and Provost Barry Brown will be on hand for opening remarks. Secretary Nee will then lead the first panel of the day.

A Resource Expo will take place in the afternoon. Highlights include: Asian American Civic Association, Helmets to Hardhats, Home Base Program, Suffolk University Office of Undergraduate Admissions, Suffolk University Office of Graduate Admissions, Suffolk University Law School Office of Admissions, There & Back Again, Veterans Upward Bound, Vet Center, Veterans Training School: New England Center for Homeless Veterans, and Vocational Rehabilitation Program: VetSuccess.

The day will conclude with individual resume reviews facilitated by representatives from EOLWD, the state’s One Stop Career Centers and Suffolk University human resources professionals. Participants are encouraged to bring resumes and cover letters for review.

Refreshments and a complimentary lunch will be provided.

For more information, please visit: http://www.mass.gov/eolwd/vetseminar

Maximum weekly benefit rate for new unemployment claims to increase

 Boston The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD) today announced that the maximum weekly benefit rate for new unemployment claims filed on or after October 2, 2011 will increase from the current rate of $625 to $653.

Massachusetts law requires the maximum weekly benefit amount for unemployment insurance claimants to be revised annually based on the average weekly wage for the twelve months ending March 2011.  The average weekly wage in Massachusetts increased from $1,088.06 to $1,135.82.  By law, the maximum benefit rate equals 57.5 percent of the state’s annual average weekly wage, rounded to the next lowest dollar amount.

This new benefit rate will not affect the weekly benefit amount of individuals who have established new claims prior to October 2, 2011, but have not yet received benefits checks.

Unemployment insurance claimants in Massachusetts receive a weekly benefit amount of 50 percent of his or her average weekly wage up to the maximum weekly amount. 
For information on the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance, please visit www.mass.gov/dua.

The New America

By Jack Hoffman

As unemployment grows, the poverty statistics grow with it. And the anger becomes greater. One wonders: When will the people take to the streets again?

Recently, on his radio talk show, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned “that if the national jobs crisis doesn’t end soon, the United States will soon see riots in the streets.”

Call it what you want, but the warnings of riots and revolution have been echoed all over the country in magazines, newspapers and talk on the radio and TV shows. Professor Thomas Kochan at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, certainly no bastion of liberalism, not only agrees with Mayor Bloomberg, but also was surprised there aren’t more visible signs of public anger/protests.

The real unemployment figure for the US has now reached a staggering 20%. And just how much is the real under-employment, meaning the figures on those who are now working a bare minimum of what they used to work and earn not so long ago. The figures I have used – and will use – are based on the US Dept. of Labor statistics. Recently, the job crisis has been inflamed with the new reports of poverty in America. That last statement is an obvious fact. If people are out of a job and working at a bare minimal wage – in many homes hamburger is now stretched thin with the addition of a crappy helper and in some cases dog food – they are POOR.

We here in the Bay State are fortunate compared to states like California, Nevada and parts of the Midwest that have double-digit unemployment. Places like Detroit and Milwaukee are almost wastelands compared to what they were 20 years ago. Here in Massachusetts we are more fortunate. Our unemployment figure for the past month has dipped from 7 ¾% to 7 ½%. In a recent Globe article is a listing of 15 town and cities where housing values have actually begun to rise.

I’m sure you all have heard the stories from neighbors, friends and within your own family. Take Bill Rickers of Hartford, Maine: In 1980 he fell through some boards while doing some carpentry work. He has since been unable to do any carpentry work. He has two college degrees. As a young man, Rickers worked as an electronics repairman, a pastor and a TV cameraman. He and his first wife had seven children. Now he receives food stamps, gets donations from a local food pantry store, and drives an 18-year-old car with 189,000 miles on it. About once every two months, as a treat, he goes out to lunch at a nearby lunch café.

After his accident Rickers was not able to tend to a three-unit apartment house he and his wife owned. They sold it, and bought a used trailer from the proceeds. If you think this is bad, he has serious back and shoulder injuries, his hands shake, he has congestive heart problems, asthma and arthritis. The stories go on and on.

That’s why I wasn’t so shocked when at a recent Republican debate Ron Paul was asked what do we do with folks like Ricker, who have no insurance — or any extra money Ricker has which is very little he uses for food. Mr. Paul’s answer was (in so many words): If he can’t get into a hospital he will just have to die.

At that moment there was a few dumb asses out there who actually applauded. I imagine some of the Tea Party/Fox TV crowd. I wasn’t surprised. Most likely the yelp and cheers came from the ones who love to raise the American flag on every holiday and consider themselves proud patriots.

Let the new figures speak for themselves:

Three out of four below the poverty line work; half have full-time jobs. One quarter work part-time. Only one quarter don’t work at all. So don’t give me that BS line “They should get a job.” 25% of all children, that’s 16.7 million, are living below the poverty line. 52% of all Americans, by the time they reach 65, will live in poverty. In one year, poverty has gone to 15% from 14.3%

Today there are 42 million Americans living in poverty. It has been more than 50 years since Edward R. Murrow telecast one of the most shocking and profound TV documentaries, A Harvest of Shame (poverty in America). That was a long time ago, and since then things have gotten worse.

Mass. job stats

Boston – The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development reported this week that the preliminary July job estimates show an increase of 12,700 jobs, for a total of 3,246,800 jobs in Massachusetts. The private sector gained 11,600 jobs. The July total unemployment rate remained at 7.6 percent, well below the national rate of 9.1 percent.

Six of the ten private sectors added jobs in July with the largest over the month gains in Education and Health Services; Other Services; Trade, Transportation and Utilities; Manufacturing; Professional and Business Services; and Financial Activities. The July job gain follows a revised 9,400 job gain in June, previously reported as a 10,400 job gain.

Over-the-year (July 2010 to July 2011), jobs are up 56,800, for a growth rate of 1.8 percent. Private sector jobs are up 61,900, a growth rate of 2.2 percent, with gains in nine of the ten sectors. Year-to-date, (December 2010 to July 2011), 53,000 jobs have been added in the Bay State with 58,200 jobs in the private sector.

Employment Overview

Education and Health Services gained 3,000 jobs (+0.4%) as Health Care and Social Assistance added 2,600 jobs (+0.5%) and Educational Services gained 400 (+0.2%) jobs. Over-the-year, this sector has added 17,300 (+2.6%) jobs with Health Care and Social Assistance gaining 15,000 (+3.0%) jobs and Educational Services 2,300 (+1.4%) jobs.

Other Services added 3,800 (+3.2%) jobs over-the-month. The increases in the sector are the result of seasonal hiring, some of which occurred later than in prior years and at higher levels than the last few years. Since July 2010, jobs in this sector are up 3,100 (+2.6%).

Trade, Transportation, and Utilities gained 2,900 jobs (+0.5%). Of the component industries, Wholesale Trade gained the greatest number of jobs, 1,400 (+1.1%); Transportation and Warehousing gained 1,100 jobs (+1.3%) and Retail Trade gained 400 jobs (+0.1%). Over-the-year, jobs are up 5,300 (+1.0%) with Wholesale Trade gaining back 2,000 (+1.6%) jobs and Retail Trade adding 3,300 (+1.0%) jobs.

Manufacturing gained 2,400 jobs (+0.9%) as Durable Goods gained 1,600 jobs (+0.9%) and Non-Durable Goods were up 800 jobs (+0.9%). From July 2010 to July 2011, Manufacturing has gained 5,900 (+2.3%) jobs with seven out of every ten job gains in Durable Goods. Durable Goods growth industries include Fabricated Metal Products; Machinery; Computer and Electronic Products; and Electrical Equipment, Appliances and Components.

Professional, Scientific and Business Services gained 700 jobs (+0.1%), the sector’s eighth consecutive monthly increase. Professional, Scientific and Technical Services gained 1,000 jobs (+0.4%). Administrative and Waste Services gained 400 jobs (+0.3%) while Management of Companies and Enterprises lost 700 jobs (-1.2%). Over-the-year, the sector has added 12,400 (+2.7%) jobs with 9,900 jobs gained in Professional, Scientific and Technical Services and 2,500 jobs in Administrative and Support Services.

Financial Activities gained 600 jobs (+0.3%) with all of the gain in Finance and Insurance. Over-the-year, jobs are up 2,700 with a 1,300 job gain in Finance and Insurance and a 1,400 job gain in Real Estate, Rental and Leasing.

Construction lost 1,500 jobs (-1.4%) following a 1,900 job gain in June. This sector had posted job gains in each of the previous four months. Over-the-year, this sector has added 2,100 (+2.0%) jobs with gains in all component industries.

Information lost 200 jobs (-0.2%). Since July 2010, this sector has added 4,300 jobs or +5.0%, the largest sector rate of growth.

Leisure and Hospitality lost 100 jobs (0.0%) following a revised loss of 1,800 jobs in June, previously published as a 1,400 gain. Accommodation and Food Services gained 800 jobs (+0.3%) in July following a revised loss of 200 jobs in June. Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation lost 900 jobs (-1.8%) in July following a 1,600 job loss in June. Over-the-year, the sector has added 8,800 (+2.9%) jobs as Accommodation and Food Services added 9,200 (+3.6%) jobs.

Government gained 1,100 jobs (+0.3%) with the gains shared by all levels. Over-the-year, Government lost 5,100 (-1.2%) jobs with losses in Federal Government and State Government more than offsetting a small gain in Local Government jobs.

Methodological changes implemented by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) earlier this year are causing more volatile changes to the monthly jobs estimates.

Labor Force Overview
The July estimates show 3,208,700 Massachusetts residents were employed and 263,400 were unemployed, for a total labor force of 3,472,100. Since October 2009, there are 40,300 more residents employed and 41,000 fewer residents unemployed as the labor force decreased by 700. Totals for July may not add exactly due to rounding.

The unemployment rate is based on a monthly sample of households, while the job estimates are derived from a monthly sample survey of employers. As a result, the two statistics for July exhibit different trends.

Local activists celebrate unemployment extensions – decry huge expenditures that will hurt economy

US Senators give themselves and other very wealthy a double tax break!

“I am personally relieved the unemployment extensions passed but I am disgusted by the Republican driven give-away of the farm! How do we re-build jobs when all our government money is being spent in ways that CBO and recent history has shown destroy our economy?” said Sharron Tetrault whose own unemployment extension and job future rests in the balance. Ms. Tetrault, an unemployed human services worker, led local efforts to reach Congressman Frank.

Local members of the Grace Team, many of them unemployed themselves, spearheaded efforts in Massachusetts over the last few weeks to ensure unemployment extensions while fighting for long-term job and economic growth. That growth will be stunted by tax break for the very wealthy Continue reading Local activists celebrate unemployment extensions – decry huge expenditures that will hurt economy