An employee of Ohio's Department of Job and Family Services, the state agency that administers unemployment benefits, yesterday sent out a message -- using an Ohio government email address -- lambasting 99ers and the concept of extended unemployment benefits.
The subject line of the email reads, "Tier 5?!?" The message, addressed to this Examiner, then begins, "Are you in your right mind? What are the 99's waiting around for? Unemployment compensation is for 26 weeks, and no matter how many extensions you add to it, those higher paying jobs are not going to magically reappear."
Regular unemployment benefits last for 26 weeks; the extensions recently enacted allow the unemployed to receive a maximum total of up to 99 weeks, depending on the state. The current extensions consist of tiers 1 through 4; the 99ers -- those who have exhausted all available benefits -- are lobbying for the addition of a tier 5 to provide benefits to them.
The email asserts of the 99ers, "As long as the unemployment checks continue, they will not take one of the jobs that are currently available." The state has an unemployment rate of 9.8%.
The email was sent by Donald Lutz, using the official Ohio state government email address of ODJFS. Lutz appears to work in the veteran services section of the agency. He refers to his employment at the department as a source of his expertise on the motives of the state's jobless. "Having been in the employment field for many years, I can assure you the unemployed are not actively seeking jobs that pay little more than their unemployment checks," he writes.
Lutz's attitude seems to be at odds with the director of the agency he works for. ODJFS recently won an award for the high quality of its services to the unemployed. "Despite rising caseloads, Ohio has been named the top performing large state for the second time in the last three years," ODJFS Director Douglas Lumpkin said in a statement. "This award is a credit to our staff members, who have worked throughout the national recession to make sure out-of-work Ohioans can count on this crucial source of income."
Ohio's Governor Ted Strickland doesn't agree with Lutz either. "At a time when so many Ohioans are struggling to find a job, allowing unemployment insurance to expire would be unconscionable," Strickland said earlier this month.
Lutz seems to be ignorant of just how tenacious the residents of his state are. The following is part of an email received from Ohioan Deb a few days ago:
"I have been out of work for 22 months in Ohio ... I practiced for over 20 years as a social worker in health care and mental health settings. I am 55, have a Masters degree, and have found that the jobs just are not out there like they used to be. I know that my age and experience and education are going against me as well ... I have applied to 100s of jobs-all kinds of jobs. Have had 5 interviews in almost 2 years. I tried last year to start up a private counseling service, but after 6 months of no clients I had to give it up because I could not afford the website, office space, insurance, and lost my car to repossession. My credit is all gone and I have 2 judgments against me from credit card collection agencies.
I live in a rented house in a rural area with my 61 year old sister who luckily has had a job for the last 22 months. She had moved in with me 5 years ago when she lost her job of 10 years ... We have had times where we could not buy food and she could not get her medications for diabetes and heart. We have no other place to go and cannot afford to move back into an urban area. A car is an absolute must out here for commuting to work or getting to the nearest town for groceries.
Last fall, in desperation for options, I returned to a local community college to try to get retrained in another field and get a student loan to help with survival expenses. It has been hard, but I am trying to stay positive and hope that eventually I will be able to manage a couple of "cottage" businesses of my own from my home. Since our expenses are low I might be able to manage and I plan this knowing that the likelihood of an employer hiring a 58 year old woman is slim to none.
I hope to work for myself out of my home as a means of survival through age 65 when hopefully I might have some SS coming, if the system still exists. If not, I will die working or die in destitution at some point. There is nothing else.
What the White House does not get is that creating more jobs does not solve our immediate crisis problems of how to eat, pay the rent and utilities, pay for a cell phone or internet, buy medicines, put gas in the car. One cannot look for a job without these base necessities. People are going without food, heat, and some eventually losing shelter because of increasing poverty. We are 'hidden' in society because we are no longer filing claims, cannot afford to speak out for ourselves, or fall into that part of the larger conscious in this culture that cannot fathom that someone could be hungry or helpless through no fault of our own."
Read Naomi's article on The New Lost Generation in The Guardian HERE.
NOTE TO UNEMPLOYED READERS: PLEASE CONTINUE TO SEND STORIES OF YOUR JOB SEARCH TO: NaomiCohn@gmail.com. Thank you.
ALSO, TO REMAIN UPDATED ON THE LATEST UNEMPLOYMENT DEVELOPMENTS, CLICK ON THE "SUBSCRIBE" BUTTON ABOVE. IF YOU HAVE ALREADY SUBSCRIBED TO NAOMI'S NEW YORK UNEMPLOYMENT PAGE, YOU MUST SUBSCRIBE TO THIS NATIONAL PAGE SEPARATELY SHOULD YOU WISH TO BE NOTIFIED OF THE NATIONAL STORIES.