Helping the Unemployed: A Small Thing You Can Do for Big Results

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As our fellow citizens hit the unemployment lines to the tune of 600,000 each month, Americans confront the very real and extensive needs of the unemployed in this devastating economy. How can we help? Where is the local food bank so we can make donations? Who might need heating oil? So many questions … We tend to look at the everyday things. And that’s good. But there’s an everyday thing we can do that could score a big assist to those who’ve lost their jobs. A phone call or letter to could translate into a not-so-small thing.

How should our leaders spend the Virginia share of the Stimulus package? And more to the point, will we even receive the full $188 million we could receive? Part of that depends on our state leaders. Some leaders around the country are outright refusing the stimulus funds targeting the unemployed. But for those accepting funds, it gets more complicated. It turns out that only 27% of Virginia’s unemployed get unemployment insurance, the lowest number of any state in the Mid Atlantic. This also happens to be 27% below the national average. But that’s not all, according to the Commonwealth Institute,

Only seven states extend benefits to fewer unemployed workers than Virginia.

CI explains here that because Virginia adopted an alternative base period for calculating unemployment eligibility, we’ll get 1/3 of the allotted funds. That’s not enough. In order to receive the full $188 million under the Recovery Act, according to the CI, the state must implement unemployment insurance modernization.

The Virginia Interfaith Alliance urges Virginian’s to call or write the governor and state representatives. Ask that they enact needed changes so hard working Virginian’s who’ve lost their jobs in this economy get the help they need from the stimulus funding. Remind them that Virginia only needs to enact two out of four possible reforms to receive $125 million (the other two thirds of the $188 million). Ask that they enact these needed changes to our state’s unemployment insurance system so that hard working Virginians facing unemployment can get the help they need from newly available federal stimulus funding.

Virginia only needs to adopt two basic reforms (out of a possible four reforms) in order to access $125 million in new federal resources. In turn that $125 million will flow directly into the state’s economy and help Virginia get back on track.

Here’s the link for contacting Gov. Tim Kaine here. And, don't forget to write your delegate and state senator.

Two out of four

changes would be what, exactly? I seem to be dense here, dense but willing if I could somehow figure out what I am asking for specifically. I followed the link but for some reason could not pull up the significant portion to a readable size. Could you provide us with a readable extraction of the Commonwealth Institute's report?

It's Not You ....

Here are options for added funding. As I said, we get 1/3 of the funding by reforms already made.

1) Permit former part-time workers to receive UI while trying to find part-time employment. Many families rely on the part-time wager earner's pay check. For many reasons (unavailability of child care, sick family members, etc) individuals may not be able to work full time. Some single wage earners can only work part-time (for example, unavailability of full-time work, disability, etc., caretaker for someone not living in the household, etc). But currently UI doesn't kick in for part-time workers who have lost their income.
2) Permit voluntary separations from employment for compelling family reasons.
3) Provide extended compensation to UI recipients in training programs for high-demand occupations.
4) Provide dependents' allowances to UI recipients with children.

As you know, the point of this piece of the economic stimulus (the total $188 million) is to gain a two-fer: 1) help those suffering from the poor economy and 2) jump start spending (those who really need are are more likely to actuallly spend it).

Slightly OT

but you mentioned donations to foodbanks...

Please, please, please... All of you who want to donate to foodbanks; do not donate food. Donate time if you have it, or donate money, but don't donate food. It's inefficient.

A foodbank has a non-profit status, which means that, because it doesn't pay taxes, dollar for dollar, they can get more food than you or I can can. Additionally, they can buy their stuff wholesale, at wholesale prices -- which we cannot do. They know their needs better than we do, so don't overstock with pasta or canned beans. They can -- as we cannot -- get fresh foods for their recipients. However little you can spare, they'll use your money more efficiently than you can.

The same goes for the Free Clinics. And, while I don't know about the foodbanks, at least at our Free Clinic (I volunteer, once a week), you can make a "dedicated donation"-- for a *specific* medical instrument, or shipment of medications -- and take the pleasure of seeing it work.

Apologies, Kathy, for interrupting your discussion but I think it's important, without being so important as to merit a separate "blog"...