During his weekly radio address last Saturday, President Barack Obama covered an issue we haven’t read about in quite some time: unemployment insurance.
In the 2+ minute video below, you’ll see the President addressing his plan to “modernize” the unemployment insurance system for working families.
For clarity, the unemployment insurance system:
“Helps many people who have lost their jobs by temporarily replacing part of their wages while they look for work. Created in 1935, it a form of social insurance in which taxes collected from employers are paid into the system on behalf of working people to provide them with income support if they lose their jobs.” – The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Introduction to Unemployment Insurance
People prefer not to discuss it, but high numbers of American workers have been out of work for a lengthy period. And, those who should receive unemployment compensation benefits don’t receive them.
The President plans to make changes and better the UI system. He plans to help these workers through the security of wage insurance, stating:
“It’s a way to give families some stability and encourage folks to rejoin the workforce — because we shouldn’t just be talking about unemployment; we should be talking about reemployment.”
His plan will extend and expand UI benefits. Specifically, it’ll benefit experienced workers who lose their jobs and take on lower salaried jobs while looking for other positions. It’ll also benefit laid off workers in need training programs for a quick workforce reentry.
“If a hard-working American loses her job, regardless of what state she lives in, we should make sure she can get unemployment insurance and some help to retrain for her next job.”
President Obama continued: “If she finds a job that doesn’t pay as much as her old one, we should offer some wage insurance that helps pay her bills.”
He’s declared a commitment to helping “hardworking families get ahead.” And, bringing this issue back to the forefront for discussion is a good thing.
The President’s UI Benefits proposal is worthy of consideration. Unemployment insurance serves as a way for people to make ends make during this transition.
Prior to its disappearing from headlines last January, Congress allowed the benefits extension law to lapse. As a result, an estimated 1.3 million (long-term unemployed) Americans lost their wage insurance coverage.
Far too often, we see others declaring: unemployment insurance makes eligible unemployed workers lazy. Or, it discourages them from their job search. This, however, is not true for every unemployed person.
The truth? It isn’t easy to find a job for the short-term unemployed. It’s even harder for the long-term unemployed (people who’ve been out of work for 27 weeks or longer).
The length it takes to land a job these days is longer than it was before the Great Recession (on average: 8 months now as compared to less than 5 months before the Great Recession). Research by the Urban Institute shows:
“The chance of being called for a job interview falls by 45% as unemployment lengthens from one to eight months.”
So, contrary to popular belief, this has nothing to do with a character flaw of job seekers in most cases. Many rather work and earn a paycheck. They’re actively looking for jobs but receive constant rejection in their prolonged search.
In the meantime, they need funds to support themselves while looking for jobs. This is where unemployment benefits come in as a “lifeline” for eligible workers.
With a strained budget, however, critics question how this plan will receive its funding. We don’t know how this reformation will turn out on a state-by-state level – or even the federal level. But, it gives officials something to think about in relation to jobless benefits.
You can check out President Barack Obama’s video below for more information:
Disclaimer: This post contains outgoing links to the works of others on the following websites: the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the Washington Post, the Urban Institute, and YouTube.