Friday, February 17, 2012

15 Million Workers Lost Jobs - GAO Profiles What Happened To Them Since

General Accounting Office Report
Among the 15 million workers who lost jobs from 2007 to 2009, half received Unemployment Insurance (UI), and about one-fourth of the recipients exhausted UI benefits by January 2010. This represents 2 million displaced workers who exhausted UI as of early 2010, the most recent survey data available. Labor estimated that about an additional 3-1/2 million individuals exhausted benefits in 2010 and 2011.

Many of the displaced workers who exhausted UI by January 2010 appear to have faced difficult economic circumstances. Their unemployment rate was high—46 percent in January 2010. Most, however, appeared to have worked at some point in 2009 or to have been supported by another household member who was working, and some had income from assets, such as interest or dividends. Nevertheless, the poverty rate of displaced workers who exhausted UI was higher than the rate among working-age adults—18 percent compared to 13 percent, and more than 40 percent had relatively low incomes, below 200 percent of the federal poverty threshold. Few (less than 3 percent) of the households of those who exhausted UI received TANF benefits in 2009. Most would not have qualified for TANF because they did not have children age 18 or younger, a general TANF eligibility criteria. More of these households received benefits from Social Security programs (18 percent) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (15 percent for the program formerly known as the Food Stamp Program).

While there are no federal requirements to refer those exhausting UI benefits to other support programs, most (45) of the state UI agencies GAO surveyed reported providing such individuals with information or connecting them to support programs. UI agencies made these connections in a variety of ways, such as through websites, mail, staff referrals, and interagency coordination. For example, Washington state has a multiagency workgroup which developed a resource guide that was mailed to those exhausting UI benefits and posted online and established a phone number to handle questions from these individuals.

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