Jobless claims rose to 439,000 according to reports released this past week. Many attribute the increase to collateral damage in the wake of hurricane Sandy—businesses closed, employees are unable to work and are not getting paid. A substantial number of the new applications were, indeed, filed in states impacted by the storm.
Sandy hit the East Coast on Oct. 29 and disrupted businesses from North Carolina to Maine. The storm also cut power to roughly 8 million homes and businesses. Some are still without power.
According to the United States Department of Labor, the highest insured unemployment rates (the percentage of individuals in the covered labor force who do not have a job, and are eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits) in the week ending October 27 were in Alaska (4.5), Puerto Rico (3.9), California (3.0), Oregon (3.0), Pennsylvania (3.0), Virgin Islands (2.9), Arkansas (2.7), Nevada (2.7), New Jersey (2.7), Illinois (2.6), New York (2.6), and North Carolina (2.6).
The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending November 3 were in Pennsylvania (+7,766), Ohio (+6,450), New Jersey (+5,675), Michigan (+2,373), and Connecticut (+1,783), while the largest decreases were in California (-8,149), New York (-2,241), Florida (-939), Georgia (-913), and Indiana (-603).
The terms used to breakdown unemployment statistics are not often disclosed; unemployment or jobless numbers are lumped into one figure. But the breakdown goes something like this:
Federal Employees (UCFE)
Newly Discharged Veterans (UCX)
State Additional Benefits
STC / Workshare
*EUC 2008: Emergency Unemployment Compensation 2008, is an extension of unemployment benefits authorized under Federal law.
**Extended Benefits: Extended Benefits are available to workers who have exhausted regular unemployment insurance benefits during periods of high unemployment. The basic Extended Benefits program provides up to 13 additional weeks of benefits when a State is experiencing high unemployment. Some States have also enacted a voluntary program to pay up to 7 additional weeks (20 weeks maximum) of Extended Benefits during periods of extremely high unemployment.
No question the number of Americans receiving unemployment is staggering, but these figures do not tell the whole story. Not by a long shot.
According to a report in the Associated Press, a majority of the unemployed are no longer eligible for jobless benefits.
The jobs crisis has left so many people out of work for so long that most of America’s unemployed are no longer receiving unemployment benefits. Of America’s 14 million unemployed, approximately 41% have had no job for 6 months to a year or more, and more than 6 million jobless Americans have exhausted their benefits, according to Judy Conti, NELP’s federal advocacy coordinator, and that number is climbing—along with food prices, utilities, rent.
Many Americans have already fallen off a fiscal cliff and are looking up from below, searching for a way to climb out, and watching as the rest of us prepare to join them.