Thursday, December 8, 2011

HERvotes Blog Carnival: Protecting Unemployment Benefits

by Hannah Gordon, Feminist Majority Foundation

Welcome to the seventh #HERvotes blog carnival on the need to protect women and employment during these tough economic times, with a focus on the importance of extending Unemployment Insurance (UI) before the December 31st deadline.

It is critical that Congress acts before the end of this calendar year to renew federal UI. The loss of this lifeline will hurt over 6 million people and their families who stand to lose their benefits during 2012.

If Congress fails to extend the benefits, women will suffer. According to Dr. Adriana Kugler, chief economist for the Department of Labor, 2.2 million women will lose their benefits if UI is not extended. Many others will be affected too, including 500,000 Latinos and 400,000 Latinas, 1.2 million African Americans (including 500,000 African American women), and millions of children.

UI must be extended in order to protect American families. 1.8 million struggling families will be immediately kept afloat. This will have a positive impact on our overall economy too; studies show that every $1 spent on unemployment insurance stimulates $2 in growth in the U.S. economy.

Extending unemployment insurance must be a vital priority for Congress. For many American families and many American women, the protection of their benefits is crucial.

Join us by sharing the posts below on Facebook, Twitter (using the hashtag #HERvotes), and other social media.

Let’s spread the word and make sure Congress hears our voices.

The blog posts below include personal stories and more information on why unemployment insurance is critical. Happy reading and thanks for joining in the fight to protect women’s economic welfare.

#HERvotes, a multi-organization campaign launched in August 2011, advocates women using our voices and votes to stop the attacks on the women’s movement’s major advances, many of which are at risk in the next election. We are very excited HERvotes is growing in membership and reaching millions of people.

Part of the #HERvotes blog carnival.

Congress Must Protect the Lifeline Women and Families Depend On- Vicki Shabo, National Partnership for Women and Families

A Day Of Thanks & Of Aspiration: No Child Should Be Hungry On Thanksgiving, Or On Any Day - Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, Mom'

No Time for Games: Extend Unemployment Insurance- Katie Kopania, Say It Sister- NOW's Blog for Equality

The Cycle of Abuse and Financial Security- Lauren Levine, Jewish Women International

Looking for Jobs that Don’t Exist Is Hard Work - Anna McClure, National Women's Law Center

Latinas call on Congress to Extend Unemployment Insurance Set to Expire on Dec 31- Natalie D. Camastra, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health

Extend Unemployment Insurance!- Heather Munro Prescott, Knitting Clio

At the Edge-Emily Alfano, National Council of Jewish Women

Women and Families Need Unemployment Benefits Extended Now!- Carol Rosenblatt, Coalition of Labor Union Women

I may lose my home because I can’t find work- Juli from Wisconsin,

I Want My Pay Equity-Emmily Bristol, Sin City Siren

Women and Unemployment- Dren

Women, Black Workers Hard Hit By Attacks on Public Employees- Tula Connell, AFL-CIO

Even in a Recession, Flex Makes (Dollars and) Sense- Nanette Fondas,

Unemployment Insurance in the 1930s and Today- Michael J. Wilson

And Now, About Those Mega-Rich Alleged Job Creators…- Lily Eskelsen, National Education Association

Congress Should Act Now to Extend Unemployment Insurance- Beth Scott, American Association of University Women

The 99% and Our Homes- Nancy Wilberg-Ricks, National Council of La Raza

Small Steps Forward in Job Gains, But Not Enough to Close Gender Gap- Caroline Hopper, Institute for Women’s Policy Research

‘Squash Amash’ March Planned by Grand Rapids Group over Unemployment Benefits Debate- Garret Ellison,

Unemployment and Taxes- Andrew Brusnahan,

Unemployed Blogger Finds Humor In Rich/Poor Divide- Claire Gordon,

I Am ‘Occupying’ D.C. for My Children and Future Generations- Linda Evans

When My Husband Faced Unemployment- Karoline, Mom’s Rising

Unemployment Insurance is the LEAST We Can Offer Working Families- Elisanta “Lisa” Batista

Without Unemployment Insurance, My Family Would Have To Choose Which Bills to Pay- Teresa “Tigger” Rey, Mom’s Rising

Good Education. Good experience. Still Unemployed- Theresa Witt

Holiday Fear- Christy Jones, AAUW

Unemployment, Congress, and People Like Me- Danielle Jackson, National Women’s Law Center

The Pathways Back to Work Act: A Must-Pass Piece of Legislation for Women- Julie Vogtman, National Women’s Law Center

Happy Holidays, Congress! It’s Time to Extend UI- Julie Vogtman, National Women’s Law Center

“No Christmas for Congress” Unless UI is Extended- Anna McClure, National Women’s Law Center

November’s Drop in Unemployment News Leaves Vulnerable Groups Behind- Abby Lane, National Women’s Law Center

Action Alert: Tell Congress to Extend Unemployment Insurance- YWCA USA

Navigating Unemployment- Jen, Mom’s Rising

Women, the Economy, and Unemployment Insurance- Angel Savoy, Metro DC Chapter, Coalition of Labor Union Women

Unemployment Insurance, Good For People, Good For Country- Sherry Saudners, Business and Professional Women’s Foundation

Women and the Unemployment Crisis- National Association of Social Workers

Surviving a Corporate War on the Middle Class- Verlene Jones, Seattle Washington, Coalition of Labor Union Women

Extend Unemployment Benefits, But Don’t Stop There- Lindsay Beyerstein, Ms. Magazine Blog

Tough Job Market for Recent College Grads- Corrina Beall, Feminist Majority Foundation

Women, Sexism, Racism & the Economy: Why Congress Needs to Reauthorize Unemployment Insurance- The Opinioness of the World

Women, Black Workers Hard Hit by Attacks on Public Employees

by Tula Connell, AFL-CIO

The improved jobs figures out last Friday obscured the ongoing decline in public-sector jobs. As the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics noted when releasing the March unemployment data:

Employment in local government continued to trend down over the month. Local government has lost 416,000 jobs since an employment peak in September 2008.

The loss of such jobs is important because the nation’s well-being depends not only on job numbers increasing, but on the creation of quality jobs—those that pay decent wages and enable people to attain or maintain a middle-class life. According to National Employment Law Project (NELP), the new jobs being created aren’t as good as the ones that have been lost. NELP found that jobs in lower wage industries, such as retail and food preparation, made up 23 percent of the jobs that were lost in the recent recession. Yet they made up 49 percent of the jobs the economy has gained in the past year. As the BBC Business puts it:

In other words, it appears that while people may finally be returning to work, they have to work for less pay.

In contrast, jobs in the public sector have provided such economic stability. They have also made it possible for some of the nation’s most economically marginalized—women and minorities—to achieve financial security often denied them in the private sector.

So attacks on public employees hit women and black workers especially hard.

Susan Feiner, professor of economics and of women’s and gender studies at the University of Southern Maine, writes that:

employees at the federal (43 percent female), state (53 percent female) and local (61 percent female) levels have been able to better resist the wage reductions, benefit cuts and mass lay-offs that giant multinational corporations have visited upon employees over the last decade.

Yet Feiner finds that “while women represented 57 percent of the public-sector work force at the end of the recession,”

women lost the vast majority—79 percent—of the 327,000 jobs cut in this sector between July 2009 and February 2011, according to a January report by the Washington, D.C.-based National Women’s Law Center.

Steven Pitts, labor policy specialist at the University of California-Berkeley Labor Center, writes today about the striking results of his new research brief, Blacks and the Public Sector. In sum:

  • The public sector is the single most important source of employment for African Americans.
  • During 2008-2010, 21.2 percent of all black workers were public employees, compared with 16.3 percent of non-black workers. Both before and after the onset of the Great Recession, African Americans were 30 percent more likely than other workers to be employed in the public sector.
  • The public sector is also a critical source of decent-paying jobs for black worker. For both men and women, the median wage earned by black employees is significantly higher in the public sector than in other industries.
  • Prior to the recession, the wage differential between black and white workers was less in the public sector than in the overall economy.

As California Progress Report writes:

For blacks and others, “the best anti-poverty program is union organizing,” the UC Berkeley Labor Center notes on its website.”

And so moves by Republican governors like Scott Walker in Wisconsin and John Kasich in Ohio to shred the ability of public employees to bargain for a decent middle-class life are also specifically targeting the ability of women and black workers to remain in the economic mainstream.

Cross-posted with AFL-CIO Blog

Part of the #HERvotes blog carnival.

Unemployment Insurance is the LEAST We Can Offer Working Families

by Elisanta “Lisa” Batista

The reason I say “working” families is because this economy is much more complicated than “working” and “unemployed.” There are many families like ours, struggling, even though we both technically have jobs. We are both in our 50s, have no retirement savings and are living paycheck to paycheck.

A year ago, my husband who was our family’s main breadwinner lost his job at a manufacturing plant. This is an industry that has been hammered in the present economy.

Thanks to the extension of unemployment insurance a year ago, my husband was
able to continue to pay the bills for a while longer. Then he took a job at another
plant that, unfortunately, pays less than half of his previous position. There are
many workers like him.

Even when times are tough, we try to count our blessings. We are fortunate to have health insurance through our jobs and I am lucky to work for a company that has allowed me to work extra hours for more pay. I am also allowed a flexible schedule when a family emergency arises. Both my daughter, who has debilitating neuropathy, and my mother-in-law, who has Alzheimer’s disease, live with us. It’s tough.

That’s why it is important that we not forget about our workers, especially this holiday season. Making sure that workers have unemployment insurance while they are looking for a job is the least we can do for hardworking families and will help stimulate our economy for everyone.

Cross-posted with Mom's Rising

Part of the #HERvotes blog carnival.

Congress Should Act Now to Extend Unemployment Insurance

by Beth Scott, American Association of University Women

As Congress tries to wrap up before taking its holiday break, a major issue it needs to deal with is the extension of federal unemployment insurance (UI). AAUW urges Congress to extend UI. We are committed to promoting the reduction of poverty, and UI plays a key role in reducing poverty and helping our economy recover.

UI provides basic benefits to Americans who have lost their jobs and are retraining or looking for another job. For many, UI benefits are the only way they can afford to stay in their homes and stay above water financially. Congress has until December 31 to renew UI, and if these benefits are not renewed or if their renewal is delayed, millions of Americans will be hurt. In January alone, more than 2 million people would lose their benefits, and millions more would have this critical lifeline cut off in the near future — more than 6 million would lose their benefits during 2012.

UI is particularly important for women, as the last few years have been especially unkind to them. According to the Pew Research Center, “Employment trends during the recovery have favored men over women in all but one of the 16 major sectors of the economy.” In November 2011, women gained more than half (65,000) of the 120,000 new jobs reported, yet analysis shows a wide job gap of 1.5 million jobs between men and women. Single mothers in particular are struggling — their unemployment rate is 12.4 percent, compared with the national average, 8.6 percent. Unemployment insurance benefits help these families survive while unemployed parents retrain for new careers or look for new jobs.

But UI doesn’t just benefit families struggling to make ends meet; it’s also good for our economy. Extending UI will immediately help millions of families stay afloat, and they will, in turn, spend that money in our struggling economy. Studies show that UI benefits are usually spent, not saved, and as a result, every $1 spent on employment insurance stimulated $2 in growth in the economy.

Not extending UI would have a devastating impact on American families and on our economy. Extending UI is not just a matter of simple fairness but the key to families making ends meet and to our nation’s economic recovery.

If you want to show that you value this protection for American families, then join us as we begin ramping up for My Vote, the AAUW Action Fund’s new voter education and turnout campaign.

Cross-posted with AAUW Dialog

Part of the #HERvotes blog carnival.