March 15th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

Ultimate solution to long-term unemployment?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The cost of long-term unemployment to the American taxpayers may soon be unsustainable.
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DailyFinance.com reports that more than six million workers say they've been unemployed for more than 26 weeks. That means the long-term unemployed represent more than 40 percent of all the unemployed - one of the highest levels ever. The average length of unemployment for this group is nearly seven months.

The payment of unemployment benefits for longer and longer periods of time adds to the deficit. One expert points out that the high unemployment rate, plus longer time collecting jobless benefits, is a dangerous combination. He says the government could be on track to spend $250 billion a year on unemployment benefits alone.

Another downside is that some workers tend to lose their skills, which means they risk becoming unemployable. They either have to move down the employment ladder or get re-trained for other jobs.

No surprise a new poll suggests that jobs are a top concern for many Americans. A Gallup poll shows 31 percent of those surveyed say unemployment is the most important problem facing the country today.

And, when asked what they think will be the top problem facing the U.S. in 25 years, the top response is the federal budget deficit.

The irony here is the more the government spends on jobs programs and unemployment benefits now, the more our $12 trillion-plus national debt will continue to grow.

Here’s my question to you: What's the ultimate solution to long-term unemployment?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


March 3rd, 2010
02:50 PM ET

When should gov't stop extending jobless benefits?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The one-man Jim Bunning filibuster ended in the Senate - and they have now voted to pass a $10 billion dollar benefits measure.
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The 78-to-19 vote means there will be a 30-day extension of unemployment benefits, highway funding and other federal programs.

President Obama praised the Senate's move, saying it will extend access to health care benefits for those who lost their jobs, help small business get loans so they can grow and hire more workers, and extend unemployment insurance benefits for millions looking for work.

If the Senate hadn't approved this measure, it's estimated more than one million people would have been affected this month and nearly five million by June. There's no question that with the national unemployment rate at 10 percent, millions and millions of Americans are depending on these government benefits to get by.

But some point out that never-ending extensions of unemployment benefits are a drain on the Treasury, an addition to the deficit, and a disincentive for recipients to actively look for work. Why search for a job when the government is still cutting you a check each week?

Generally, federal unemployment benefits kick in after the state-funded 26 weeks of coverage ends. During the economic downturn, Congress has approved 73 weeks of additional unemployment benefits.

Here’s my question to you: At what point should the government stop extending jobless benefits?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Government • Unemployment
March 2nd, 2010
06:00 PM ET

Is Sen. Jim Bunning right to hold up unemployment benefits?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

There's a great political game of gotcha going on right now in our nation's capital, and it all comes down to one man: retiring Republican Senator Jim Bunning.
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The Kentucky lawmaker is the only senator to block an extension of unemployment benefits that could help millions of jobless Americans.

But Bunning says he's against the $10 billion aid package because it isn't paid for and he doesn't want to add to the deficit.

The one-man filibuster is also blocking federal flood insurance, small business loans and an extension of federal highway funding - which means more than 2,000 workers are on paid furloughs.

So far it's been pretty much radio silence from Bunning's fellow Republicans.

And Democrats are loving it - pointing out that Bunning didn't make such noise under the Bush administration when there were two unpaid wars along with Bush's tax cuts. The Democrats are challenging their GOP colleagues to come out and defend what Bunning is doing.

After all, the Republicans are making hay railing about Democrats spending the country into bankruptcy. With all the preaching of fiscal conservatism - they should support Bunning's move to stop unemployment benefits if there is no money to pay for them, right? The Republicans probably wish he would just go away.

Meanwhile Bunning isn't exactly acting like a statesman. After one Democrat criticized his move on the Senate floor, Bunning reportedly muttered "tough ****." And the senator gave the middle finger to a reporter who tried to question him.

Here’s my question to you: Is Sen. Jim Bunning right to hold up unemployment benefits because there's no money to pay for them?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Unemployment
February 4th, 2010
07:00 PM ET

Do you trust govt's reporting of things like employment numbers?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Turns out the national jobs picture may be a whole lot worse than we thought.
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The government may have underestimated job losses during the recession by close to one million jobs. That means instead of employers cutting about seven million jobs since December 2007 - that number could actually be eight million.

One expert calls this an "enormous understatement of the severity of the crisis" - which would qualify as an enormous understatement.

Here's what the Labor Department says happened: They release a revision of U.S. payrolls every year - using data that wasn't available as they calculated job losses month to month. Typically, the revisions don't amount to much - only a fraction of a percent of the total number of jobs.

But the year that ended last March was a brutal one on the economy, with the U.S. coming very close to another depression...

Economists say that during a time of such volatility... it's not a big surprise that there could be such a large discrepancy in the total number of jobs lost.

And it's not getting much better - at least not yet. This morning first time jobless claims came in much higher than expected - climbing to their highest level since mid-December. And economists are pessimistic about the January jobs report - which is due out tomorrow morning.

The national unemployment rate is expected to stay at 10 percent.

Here’s my question to you: How much do you trust the government's reporting of things like employment numbers?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Government • Unemployment
January 28th, 2010
07:00 PM ET

How confident are you in govt's ability to create jobs?



FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Jobs, jobs, jobs.

That was one of President Obama's top priorities in last night's State of the Union address.

The president is calling for a "jobs bill" from Congress right away. More specifically, Mr. Obama wants to give a tax break to companies that hire workers - to get rid of capital gains tax on small business investments - and he wants 30 billion dollars of TARP money to help local banks lend to small businesses.

The president also wants to put more federal dollars into so-called green jobs and infrastructure projects - and to extend unemployment benefits to Americans still out of work.

But economists say fixing the jobs situation won't be quick or easy... that it will take a strong economic expansion to get things going again.

The national employment rate is at 10-percent, up from seven-percent when Mr. Obama took office; and just today, the government reported last week's first time claims for unemployment fell, but not by as much as expected.

Meanwhile a new poll suggests that Americans agree it's hard to land a "quality" job.

The Gallup poll shows that only nine-percent of Americans say now is a good time to find a quality job; that number is down sharply from January 2007 - when 48-percent of those surveyed were optimistic about finding a quality job.

And, this bleak outlook on finding a quality job is consistent across all ages, incomes, genders, and different regions of the country.

This means not only does the Obama administration need to worry about lowering unemployment and increasing the quantity of jobs, but the quality as well.

Here’s my question to you: How confident are you in the government's ability to create jobs?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


January 25th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

Is the stimulus package creating jobs?



FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Almost a year since President Obama signed the massive $787 billion dollar economic stimulus package into law, turns out the public isn't so crazy about it.

A new CNN-Opinion Research Corporation Poll shows almost three-quarters of Americans say that at least half of the money spent has been wasted.

The poll also shows 63 percent say the projects in the plan were included for purely political reasons, while only 36 percent say the projects will help the economy.

Overall, 56 percent oppose the stimulus plan... last year, a majority supported it.

There's even disagreement among the president's top lieutenants on how effective the stimulus package has been. Three top White House officials gave three different answers on the Sunday talk shows about how many jobs could be credited to the president's recovery act.

Valerie Jarrett said the plan "saved thousands and thousands of jobs." David Axelrod said it "created more than, or saved more than two million jobs," while Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said it "saved or created 1.5 million jobs."

The so-called American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was meant to stimulate the economy by increasing federal spending and cutting taxes.

The White House predicted the stimulus package would keep the unemployment rate from going above eight percent - it's 10 percent.

Here’s my question to you: Do you believe the stimulus package is creating jobs?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Stimulus • Unemployment • Unemployment / Economy
December 3rd, 2009
05:00 PM ET

What can be done to create jobs?



FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As the White House convenes what it's calling a jobs summit, consider this:

Almost 16 million Americans are out of work, and one-third of them have been unemployed for more than six-months. There are currently six workers competing for every open job. The government releases the November jobs report tomorrow, with unemployment expected to remain at 10.2 percent.

The White House affair is a meeting with business leaders, academics and other experts to come up with ideas on creating jobs.

But Americans have their own ideas on how to get people back to work. A new USA Today/Gallup poll shows 18 percent of those surveyed suggest the best way is to keep manufacturing jobs in the U.S instead of sending them overseas. 14-percent say lower taxes, 12-percent say more help for small businesses, and 10-percent say create more infrastructure work.

Other ideas include reducing government regulation, creating more green jobs, providing more stimulus money, and buying American or raising taxes on imports.

Meanwhile, there are some glimmers of good news:

The Labor Department reports that the number of first-time filers for unemployment fell last week to a near 15-month low.

Also an independent private job placement firm shows the pace of job losses slowing to the lowest level in two years.

But the fact is jobs are a trailing indicator and probably won't show any robust growth for awhile - despite other signs that the economy is in recovery. Also, many experts say a lot of the jobs that have been lost will simply never return.

Here’s my question to you: What can be done to create jobs?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Economy • Unemployment • Unemployment / Economy
November 18th, 2009
04:03 PM ET

Will unemployment get worse before it improves?

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FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty

The man who predicted the worst recession since the Great Depression says the jobs picture is a lot worse than the numbers imply.

Economist Nouriel Roubini says real unemployment is closer to 17.5% and that job losses will likely continue until the end of 2010 - at the earliest. Roubini suggests the official unemployment rate will peak at close to 11% and remain at "a very high level for two years or more."

Roubini also points out that a lot of the lost jobs just are not coming back including those in construction, finance and manufacturing. He suggests that the government extending unemployment benefits isn't the solution; instead they need to create jobs through infrastructure projects and provide temporary tax credits to companies that hire more workers.

Roubini says the poor jobs situation along with a weak recovery could increase the risk of a "double dip recession." In fact, while most economists agree that the U.S. economy is in recovery, many of them are calling for another round of stimulus to prevent another downturn. They point to factors like retail, car and home sales, along with oil prices and the stock market as potential trouble spots.

And Pres. Obama is also warning that too much government debt could lead to a double-dip recession.

Meanwhile a new Gallup poll shows 31% of Americans name the economy as the most important problem facing this country - that's the top of the list. Another 20% cite unemployment.

SO HERE'S MY QUESTION FOR YOU: When it comes to unemployment, are things going to get worse before they get better?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Filed under: Unemployment
October 8th, 2009
05:55 PM ET

Limiting how long people can collect unemployment?



FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Senate Democrats now say they've reached a deal to extend unemployment benefits to almost two million Americans who could stop getting checks by the end of this year.

The plan would give an extra 14 weeks of benefits to unemployed people in all 50 states. Those in states with unemployment rates above 8.5 percent would get another six weeks on top of that.

Senate Democrats may bring the measure to a floor vote as soon as tonight. The House passed its own bill last month that would extend benefits for people only in states with unemployment above 8.5 percent.

The bills would be paid for by extending a tax on employers for another two years... so that all these extra benefit payments don't wind up adding to the deficit. Instead the money will come from the people we are counting on to create the new jobs, employers. Makes no sense.

And time is of the essence here - more than 400,000 Americans ran out of their unemployment benefits in September.

Benefits vary from state to state… starting at 26 weeks and going up to 79 weeks in those hit hardest by the recession. The average payment is about $300 a week.

The national employment rate hit 9.8 percent last month. That's a 26 year high. And it's expected to go higher into next year - even as the economy starts to recover. Estimates are there are now six workers for every available job opening.

Here’s my question to you: Should there be a limit on how long people can collect unemployment benefits?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Unemployment
October 6th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Job market beginning to improve?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The economy is beginning to recover by some accounts, but not in the way that hits millions of Americans the hardest - unemployment. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan says the economy will grow more than expected in the third quarter - he expects three percent growth.

But Greenspan points to the "pretty awful" September jobs report - which showed a worse than expected loss of 263,000 jobs. He says unemployment will continue to go up - eventually topping 10 percent.

It's currently at 9.8 percent, which is the highest rate since 1983.

There are estimates as many as 750,000 additional jobs will be lost between now and next March - that would mean almost nine million jobs lost since the recession began in December 2007. But employment is a lagging indicator - meaning the economy will begin to recover quite a while before we see a pickup in the jobs numbers.

All this has President Obama talking about job creation. The administration and Democrats want to extend safety net programs - like making unemployment benefits available for up to a year and a half. They also may propose new tax incentives for businesses to get them hiring again.

Whether any of these ideas will work remains an open question. One Democratic aide said: "There may not be anything we can do."

Here’s my question to you: Do you get any sense the job market is beginning to improve?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


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