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Report: States Made Unprecedented Cuts to Unemployment Insurance in 2011

August 8, 2011 Comments off

Report: States Made Unprecedented Cuts to Unemployment Insurance in 2011 (PDF)
Source: National Employment Law Project

State lawmakers in 10 states used the 2011 session to push through a range of unprecedented cuts and new restrictions in their unemployment insurance programs, according to an analysis of state legislation released today by the National Employment Law Project. Some of the most severe cuts occurred in states hit hardest by unemployment and the recession.

Most states will require federal legislation to restore the solvency of their unemployment insurance programs, avoid sudden tax hikes on employers, and maintain the unemployment insurance programs for out-of-work Americans. President Obama included a proposal in his FY 2012 budget, and Senator Durbin introduced the Unemployment Insurance Solvency Act of 2011 (S.386) earlier this year. NELP issued a proposal in February.

NELP’s new analysis shows that in 2011, six states cut the maximum number of weeks that jobless workers can receive unemployment insurance to less than 26 weeks—a threshold that had served as a standard for all 50 states for more than half a century, until this year. Michigan, Missouri, and South Carolina cut their available weeks down to 20; Arkansas and Illinois cut down to 25; and Florida cut to between 12 and 23 weeks, depending on the state’s unemployment rate. Double-digit unemployment in Michigan, South Carolina, and Florida did not discourage lawmakers there from making the cuts.

Other states slashed weekly benefit amounts or instituted onerous eligibility requirements meant to discourage workers from applying for benefits. Indiana changed the formula it uses to calculate weekly benefit amounts so that the average unemployment check will drop from $283 to $220 a week. Starting in August, claimants in Florida must take a 45-question online skills-assessment before they can receive a first payment, and then must provide documentation that they have contacted at least five employers for each week they file for benefits.

+ Full Report

Discrimination Persists for Unemployed Job Seekers, New Report Finds

July 22, 2011 Comments off

Discrimination Persists for Unemployed Job Seekers, New Report Finds (PDF)
Source: National Employment Law Project

Unemployed workers continue to be excluded from consideration for job openings, a new report from the National Employment Law Project shows. The report coincides with the introduction in the U.S. House of Representatives of the Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011, a measure sponsored by Representatives Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut and Henry Johnson, Jr. of Georgia to create a level playing field for unemployed job seekers by prohibiting employers and employment agencies from screening out or excluding job applicants solely because they are unemployed.

“Unemployed job seekers continue to be excluded from work opportunities, and this disturbing and unfair practice appears to be more pervasive than previously thought,” said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, who testified on the trend before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) earlier this year.

As documented in NELP’s report, “Hiring Discrimination against the Unemployed: Federal Bill Outlaws Excluding the Unemployed from Job Opportunities, as Discriminatory Ads Persist,” employers and staffing firms continue to expressly deny job opportunities to those workers hardest hit by the economic downturn, despite increased scrutiny and strong public opposition to the practice. An informal NELP survey of a number of heavily-trafficked job posting websites, including CareerBuilder.com and Indeed.com, found numerous job ads conspicuously stating that job seekers “must be currently employed.”

+ Full Report (PDF)

Lower-Wage Industries Lead First 12 Months of Job Growth

February 23, 2011 Comments off

Lower-Wage Industries Lead First 12 Months of Job Growth (PDF)
Source: National Employment Law Project

More than one million private-sector jobs were added to the U.S. economy during the last 12 months, but they are disproportionately concentrated in mid- and lower-wage industries, a new report from the National Employment Law Project finds.

The bottom-heavy growth in industries like temporary employment services, restaurants, retail, and nursing and residential care facilities, which pay median wages below $13 an hour, suggests that workers are not only encountering fewer job opportunities—they may also be seeing fewer well-paying jobs than before the recession.

+ Full Report (PDF)

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