The 99ers

How much have things changed in America when we have to invent a new word to describe the hordes of Americans that have exhausted two years of unemployment benefits and yet still have not been able to find a new job?  In America today, there are at least 1.5 million “99ers” – American workers that have completely exhausted all of their long-term unemployment benefits and that still do not have jobs.  Some say that the true number of 99ers is actually much higher than that.  In any event, almost everyone agrees that we have a huge problem on our hands.  Unfortunately for the 99ers, the tax cut deal that Barack Obama has reached with the Republicans only extends the existing structure of long-term unemployment benefits.  It does not include additional weeks of benefits for the 99ers.


So what does this mean?  It means that a very large number of unemployed Americans will soon be hurting even more.  At this point, the average size of an unemployment check across the United States is approximately $302.90 a week.  That is not much, but now imagine desperately trying to survive and having even that little bit of income stripped away from you.

Over the next few years we could see literally millions of American families forced from their homes and on to the streets.

Not that any economy can afford to provide unemployment benefits for their citizens indefinitely.  The truth is that the federal government has already spent a ton of money extending long-term unemployment benefits for as long as they have.

But what are we going to do about all of the Americans that simply cannot find jobs no matter how hard they try?

Are we just going to tell them to go join a tent city?  Are we going to tell them to dig through trash cans for food that other people have thrown out?

In America today, there are approximately five unemployed workers for every single job opening.  The truth is that there are not nearly enough jobs out there for everyone that wants one.  In fact, it isn’t even close.

The U.S. economy does not provide enough jobs for all Americans anymore, and it probably never will again.  It now takes the average unemployed American over 33 weeks to find a job.  The number of long-term unemployed is absolutely exploding.  As 2007 began, there were just over 1 million Americans that had been unemployed for half a year or longer.  Today, there are over 6 million Americans that have been unemployed for half a year or longer.

Take a moment and let those statistics sink in.

We are facing a national crisis of unprecedented magnitude.

For many Americans, the financial pressure that this “new economy” is creating is absolutely soul crushing.

A recent article on The Calculated Risk blog quotes James Mitchell, a 64 year old Vietnam veteran that has been unemployed since early 2009 and who does not know what he is going to do once his unemployment benefits are exhausted….

“This is just as scary as people lobbing mortars over your head at 2 o’clock in the morning.”

One anonymous unemployed woman identified only as “Kaynonymous” is a highly educated professional who recently posted a rant online in which she admitted that she also will probably end up in a tent city soon….

“I’m a 99er too. 53, female, single and once on track with an IT career. No one in their right mind would consider me for an IT position after being gone from the field for over 2 years. I have officially been a 99er since May 2010. In Aug. 2010 all of my savings and retirement funds were finally depleted–not only can I no longer make my mortgage payment, I can no longer afford utilities either. I’m just not sure that the 99ers ever had a voice outside of union organizers and even with them it was too little too late. Guess I’ll be seeing ya’ll in the soup kitchens and tent cities. I do still have my tent…”

So is this what America is turning into?  A declining economic wasteland where people in their fifties and sixties who have “done all the right things” all their lives are now pushed into crushing poverty?

The truth is that it would be hard to overstate how bad things have gotten in America.  Today, there are 42.9 million Americans on food stamps.

Just think about that – 42.9 million Americans are being fed by the federal government.

Not only that, but now one out of every six Americans is enrolled in at least one anti-poverty program run by the federal government.

So how far do we have to go before we finally admit that we have become a total economic disaster as a nation?

In a previous article entitled “24 Signs That All Of America Is Becoming Just Like Detroit – A Rotting, Post-Industrial, Post-Apocalyptic Wasteland” I commented on the almost unbelievable economic decline that we are seeing in communities all across America….

For years, people have been laughing at the horrific economic decline of Detroit. Well, guess what? The same thing that happened to Detroit is now happening to dozens of other communities across the United States. From coast to coast there are formerly great manufacturing cities that have turned into rotting, post-industrial war zones. In particular, in America’s “rust belt” you can drive through town after town after town that resemble little more than post-apocalyptic wastelands. In many U.S. cities, the “real” rate of unemployment is over 30 percent. There are some communities that will start depressing you almost the moment you drive into them. It is almost as if all of the hope has been sucked right out of those communities.

So where did all the jobs go?

Well, as our politicians merged our economy with the rest of the world over the past several decades, they have been shipped overseas.

Today, millions of jobs that used to be performed by Americans are being done on the other side of the globe.  It turns out that there are vast hordes of impoverished people that are more than happy to do those jobs for less than a tenth of what an American worker would make.

Guess what?  The millions of jobs that have been “outsourced” and “offshored” are permanently gone and are never coming back.

Just consider the following statistics….

*The United States has lost a staggering 32 percent of its manufacturing jobs since the year 2000.

*Since 2001, over 42,000 U.S. factories have closed down for good.

*As of the end of 2009, less than 12 million Americans worked in manufacturing.  The last time that less than 12 million Americans were employed in manufacturing was in 1941.

So do you still have hope that things are going to get better for the economy?

Well, if so, then how in the world can you possibly explain how the bleeding of jobs to other areas of the globe is going to stop?

Why would the big global corporations that now dominate our economy want to hire American workers for ten times more than they can hire cheap Asian workers for?

Globalism works well for inexpensive workers on the other side of the globe (because at least they now have jobs) and it works well for big global corporations because their labor costs go down.

But globalism does not work well for American workers.  In fact, merging American workers into the new “global labor pool” has made American workers very, very, very unattractive.

The global economy does not care that you have to pay the mortgage or that you want to send your kids to college.  The global economy does not exist to provide you with a good paying job.  In fact, the global economy is not going to shed a tear if you and your entire family are forced to live in a tent city and beg for scraps of food.

So if you still have a good job and your family is still doing well, please do not look down on the 99ers.

You never know – one day you may be one of them.