October 2nd, 2011
02:58 PM ET

Letters to the President: #986 'A great idea for jobs...huzzah!'

Reporter's Note: The president is trying to bring down unemployment and in today’s letter I have a terrific idea.

Dear Mr. President,

I have an idea! Heaven be praised, it came to me like a bolt from the blue and it could prove a real winner for you, for a lot of Americans, heck maybe for everyone!

Part one: We all know that a lot of people need jobs. The number of folks waiting in unemployment lines would make you think it was a Broadway opening.

Part two: You desperately want to help them find work. The benefit to them is obvious…paying the rent, putting food on the table, sending the kids to college. You get the drill. The benefit to you is also pretty profound: People start spending, the economy improves, folks stop complaining, and Bob’s-You-Uncle, you get re-elected.

So here comes part three: Since everyone who needs a job has to provide references…wait for it…you help them out! You volunteer to be a reference for their new employers!

I know, I know, it sounds silly. “Tom,” you say, “I trust your judgment implicitly, but seriously…there are millions of folks out of work. I can’t handle that many phone calls from prospective employers!”

Fair enough. So you offer a national lottery of names. Each day your staff pulls out, oh say, fifty or sixty resumes from applicants; you chat them up on the phone; and when the new employer calls, you say, “Why sure, Phil is a great guy!”

Now, will that recommendation alone seal the deal? No. But when they say, “And Mr. Obama, what do you do for a living?” that’s when you hit them with, “I’m the President of the United States, and I would really appreciate it if you’d hire this person.”

Who is going to turn that down? No one!

I realize we should probably work out some details, but give me a call this evening if you have a moment and we can brainstorm.

Huzzah…a solution!


December 9th, 2010
10:50 AM ET
July 5th, 2010
02:51 PM ET

7.9 million jobs lost – many forever

Chris Isidore
Senior Writer CNNMoney

The recession killed off 7.9 million jobs. It's increasingly likely that many will never come back.

The government jobs report issued Friday shows that businesses have slowed their pace of hiring to a relative trickle.

"The job losses during the Great Recession were so off the chart, that even though we've gained about 600,000 private sector jobs back, we've got nearly 8 million jobs to go," said Lakshman Achuthan, managing director of Economic Cycle Research Institute.

Excluding temporary Census workers, the economy has added fewer than 100,000 jobs a month this year - a much faster and stronger jobs recovery than occurred following the last two recessions in 2001 and 1991.

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Filed under: Unemployment
July 5th, 2010
02:49 PM ET

Job gloom at all-time high

Tami Luhby
Senior Writer CNNMoney

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/money/2010/07/03/news/economy/discouraged_workers/job_gloom.gi.top.jpg caption="More Americans than ever before feel they have no hope of finding a job." width=300 height=169]

More Americans than ever before feel they have no hope of finding a job.

A record 1.21 million people want to work, but said they aren't looking because of the weak labor market, according to federal statistics released Friday. The June figure is up from 793,000 a year ago.

The statistic is yet another sign of how bleak the employment picture is. And these folks, known as "discouraged workers," aren't even counted in the unemployment rate because they haven't looked for work in the past four weeks.

Unlike those who have given up completely, discouraged workers have hunted for a job during the past year.

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Filed under: Unemployment
July 5th, 2010
09:53 AM ET

Letter to the President #532: 'When is a recovery not a recovery?'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/POLITICS/07/02/obama.economy/smlvid.obama.flag.gi.jpg caption="Foreman: President Obama continues to say a recovery is underway, but more and more it has all the appearance of being a jobless recovery." width=300 height=169]

Reporter's Note: President Obama continues to say a recovery is underway, but more and more it has all the appearance of being a jobless recovery. And that’s not good news, as I note in my latest letter to the White House.

Dear Mr. President,

I know that you have been trying to raise spirits with town hall meetings; I know you have been trying to increase optimism about the economy, but these jobs numbers are just making everything you say about the recovery seem like so much wishful thinking.

No matter how we slice it, we’re still pushing close to ten percent unemployment. That means out of every ten Americans who want work, one can’t find it. That’s terrible. And, btw, as you know that is not counting the people who have just given up. And it makes no allowance for the folks who have found work, but in jobs that pay less (sometimes a lot less) than their previous positions, because frankly I’m not hearing a lot of them talking about how much “more” they are making these days.

This is, hands down, the cruise missile heading right for the dead center of your party this fall. Yes, voters are still angry at the Republicans, but if you think just blaming everything on the previous landlords is going to get your team off of the hook, I fear you are sorely mistaken. There is more than enough fury to go around on this, and just as it has been for months now, the overwhelming opinion of voters is that Washington in general just doesn’t get it… not the Dems, not the Repubs, not anyone in power inside the Beltway.


June 30th, 2010
04:35 PM ET

Time runs out for 1.2 million on unemployment

Christina Zdanowicz

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/US/06/29/unemployment.irpt/story.cintron.irpt.jpg caption="Miriam Cintron lost her job in late 2008 and has been receiving unemployment benefits since then." width=300 height=169]

With her unemployment benefits coming to a halt, Miriam Cintron is forced to make a difficult choice between health insurance and daily expenses.

Signing into her unemployment benefits account last week, the New Yorker was horrified to see she hadn't received any money for three weeks, she says.

What would the four-year cancer survivor do if she couldn't afford to pay her $650 monthly COBRA payment? Her health insurance helped pay for life-saving treatment before, so giving it up is not an option, she says.

When Cintron was laid off from her job as a case worker at a homeless shelter in late 2008, she never imagined she'd go on unemployment. But even with 17 years experience, she's been unable to land a new job.

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Filed under: iReport • Unemployment
April 5th, 2010
12:25 PM ET

Unemployment benefits expire for thousands

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/LIVING/worklife/09/29/cb.job.searching.recession/art.job.recession.gi.jpg caption="Benefits for many Americans seeking jobs will expire today."]

Brianna Keilar

Extended unemployment benefits will temporarily expire for thousands of Americans on Monday because the Senate went on its spring recess without approving a one-month deadline extension.

The extension, which had bipartisan support, would have cost about $10 billion, but a lone Republican, Sen. Tom Coburn, said no until the costs are offset.

The Oklahoma senator objected to a commonly used unanimous-consent agreement to pass the bill under emergency conditions, even if it increases the federal deficit. Coburn wants to eliminate additional government spending to pay for the bill.

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Filed under: Brianna Keilar • Unemployment
March 5th, 2010
12:03 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Unemployment rate holds steady at 9.7%

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/01/art.job.seekers.jpg caption=""]

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

It’s the report that Wall Street and Main Street have been waiting for all week: the government says the economy shed 36,000 jobs last month, while the unemployment rate held steady at 9.7%. Both readings came in better than expectations.

But the results were still worse than the previous month, as just 26,000 jobs were lost in January, according to the revised estimate.

Also, the government said the winter storms that blanketed the East Coast with several feet of snow last month possibly skewed the results. The Labor Dept.'s jobs survey was conducted in the middle of February, which coincided with blizzards that temporarily shuttered some businesses and kept many workers home without pay. Those employees would not have been counted on the government's payroll survey.

Construction continued to be one of the worst-hit sectors, cutting 64,000 jobs in February. Retailers trimmed 400 jobs after adding 41,000 positions in January. Manufacturing businesses added just 1,000 jobs, down from 20,000 new jobs the month before.

But several industries showed solid gains in employment, including health care and the service industries. Also encouraging was the addition of 47,500 temporary workers, whose hiring often signals that employers are starting to gear up again.

All told, nearly 15 million people unemployed – or roughly the populations of Pennsylvania and Nevada combined.

Still, the number of workers who were seeking full-time employment but were working only part-time hours rose, pushing the so-called “underemployment rate” up to 16.8% from 16.5% in January.

The silver lining

So is there any good news? Well if you are lucky enough to have a job, your paycheck may be starting to get bigger – and that’s a sign of improvement in the job market.

Even a small gain in income is significant. If consumers have more money in their pockets, that can help to boost consumer spending and create the demand that will prompt a resumption of hiring.

According to the government's report, average hourly earnings have risen by nearly 2% over the past 12 months. And that's not the only evidence of a turnaround in pay.

An analysis of income and employment taxes withheld from more than 130 million U.S. workers by TrimTabs Investment Research found that total salaries and wages increased by 0.7% in February compared to a year ago. This is the first increase since 2008, and it represents $42 billion extra dollars in consumers' pockets compared to a year ago.

Job creation bill heads back to Senate

It’s all still a work in progress though… and lawmakers' efforts to spur job creation were delayed once again Thursday after the House amended a $15 billion Senate bill before passing it.

The amendments mean the Senate must again approve the four-prong measure, this time with no changes, if President Obama is to sign it into law. The Senate may not take up the legislation until next week.

The bill would exempt employers from Social Security payroll taxes on new hires who were unemployed; fund highway and transit programs through 2010; extend a tax break for business that spend money on capital investments, such as equipment purchases; and expand the use of the Build America Bonds program, which helps states and municipalities fund capital construction projects.

However, the House added two provisions to pay for the infrastructure spending and corporate tax breaks. The amendments require foreign financial institutions to give the IRS more information to help it catch tax cheats, and delays a tax break for foreign interest payments. The measure passed by a 217-201 vote.

Tax breaks for job seekers

We all know that job hunting can be expensive. The costs of hiring career coaches, printing hundreds of résumés at Kinko's and flying out for job interviews can really add up, especially for someone who doesn't have an income.

But finally, there's a benefit to being unemployed: job seekers can deduct search-related expenses, including employment and outplacement agency fees, travel costs and résumé costs. Your job search doesn't even have to result in employment for you to qualify!

Check out the details on CNNMoney.com.

Follow the money… on Twitter: @AndrewTorganCNN

Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Economy • Finance • Job Market • Unemployment
March 4th, 2010
03:52 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Jobs numbers take center stage

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/06/art.lines.gi.jpg]

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

New claims for jobless benefits fell last week - another sign that layoffs may be easing as the economy slowly recovers. This comes on the heels if two reports out Wednesday that showed the pace of job cuts continued to slow last month, and ahead of Friday’s all-important February employment report.

The Labor Dept. says that initial claims for unemployment insurance fell by 29,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 469,000 in the week ended Feb. 27.

In addition, the number of people continuing to claim jobless benefits fell by 134,000 to 4.5 million in the week ended Feb. 20, the most recent data available.

But continuing claims only reflect people filing each week after their initial claim until the end of their standard benefits, which usually last 26 weeks. The figures do not include those people who have moved to state or federal extensions, or people whose benefits have expired.


Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Economy • Finance • Job Market • Unemployment
March 3rd, 2010
02:51 PM ET

Bridging the divide between Congress, constituents

Only a third of U.S. voters think most members of Congress deserve to be re-elected, according to a recent poll.

Kristi Keck

Sen. Jim Bunning's decision to block a bill extending unemployment benefits was a smack in the face to struggling Americans across the country.

The Kentucky Republican demanded the extension be paid for instead of adding to the deficit, although in the past, he voted for similar extensions that did not include budget offsets.

Bunning relented, but critics still blasted him as tone-deaf, a label stapled to much of Congress over the past year.
While it's "extraordinarily rare" for Congress to be admired by the public, right now, the dissatisfaction with the legislative branch is intensified, said Norman Ornstein, a longtime congressional observer with the American Enterprise Institute.

Keep reading...

Filed under: 360° Radar • Unemployment
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