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Posted by r2d2 03/17/2009 @ 08:12

Tags : unemployment, employment and work, us

News headlines
Auto industry sparks surge in jobless claims - CNNMoney.com
Government says 637000 people filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week. Continuing claims at all-time high for 15th week in a row. By Ben Rooney, cnnmoney.com staff writer People are losing their jobs, watching their homes fall into...
Unemployment rises in Egypt on low growth - Reuters
By Yara Bayoumy and Moira Sidoti SWEIMEH, Jordan (Reuters) - Egyptian unemployment is set to rise from around 9 percent now because the most populous Arab country is not sustaining high enough economic growth to support its population,...
More EU protests planned over unemployment - CNN International
With European unemployment rates at staggering levels, protests are planned in the coming days in Berlin, Germany; Prague, Czech Republic; Luxembourg; Bucharest, Romania and Birmingham, England. In Spain, the construction industry in particular has...
Unemployment extension passes Missouri legislature - Kansas City Star
JEFFERSON CITY | Missouri lawmakers this afternoon passed a bill expanding eligibility and extending the length of time workers can collect unemployment benefits. Unemployed workers could collect several additional weeks of benefits when the state...
Workforce Development Responds About Unemployment Miscalculations - Indiana's NewsCenter
Workforce Development has issued a 121-page response to the critical report. The agency says it launched a program last July that should cut that error rate. In addition, the agency plans to more closely review unemployment cases categorized as...
Fla. flood areas getting unemployment aid - MiamiHerald.com
Flood victims in 17 north Florida counties now are eligible for federal disaster unemployment assistance. The emergency assistance covers flood-affected workers who have exhausted regular state unemployment compensation and those who are ineligible for...
Forum: Unemployment insurance costs - Traverse City Record Eagle
Granholm and passed by the Democratic-controlled State House last week to increase unemployment payroll taxes on employers isn't going to solve the problem; it is going to make it worse. A provision contained in the federal stimulus legislation allows...
• Governor has plan for 12000 temp jobs this summer - OregonLive.com
Kulongoski wants to divert $90 million from the state unemployment insurance fund to pay for the jobs program, which would be overseen by the state's community colleges and Workforce Development agency. He plans to stump for the plan around the state...
Turkey unemployment hits record high of 16.1 pct - Forbes
ISTANBUL, May 15 (Reuters) - Turkey's unemployment rate jumped to a record high of 16.1 percent in the January-March period, due to a sharp contraction in the economy, the Turkish Statistics Institute said on Friday. The unemployment rate, measured on...


Unemployment rate for US states in 2004

Unemployment occurs when a person is available to work and currently seeking work, but the person is without work. The prevalence of unemployment is usually measured using the unemployment rate, which is defined as the percentage of those in the labor force who are unemployed. The unemployment rate is also used in economic studies and economic indexes such as the United States' Conference Board's Index of Leading Indicators as a measure of the state of the macroeconomics.

There are a variety of different causes of unemployment, and disagreement on which causes are most important. Different schools of economic thought suggest different policies to address unemployment. Monetarists for example, believe that controlling inflation to facilitate growth and investment is more important, and will lead to increased employment in the long run. Keynesians on the other hand emphasize the smoothing out of business cycles by manipulating aggregate demand. There is also disagreement on how exactly to measure unemployment. Different countries experience different levels of unemployment; the USA currently experiences lower unemployment levels than the European Union, and it also changes over time (e.g. the Great depression) throughout economic cycles.

According to economist Edmond Malinvaud, the type of unemployment that occurs depends on the situation at the goods market, rather than that they belong to opposing economic theories. If the market for goods is a buyers' market (i.e.: sales are restricted by demand), Keynesian unemployment may ensue while a limiting production capacity is more consistent with classical unemployment.

Frictional unemployment occurs when a worker moves from one job to another. While he searches for a job he is experiencing frictional unemployment. This applies for fresh graduates looking for employment as well. This is a productive part of the economy, increasing both the worker's long term welfare and economic efficiency. It is a result of imperfect information in the labour market, because if job seekers knew that they would be employed for a particular job vacancy, almost no time would be lost in getting a new job, eliminating this form of unemployment.

Classical or real-wage unemployment occurs when real wages for a job are set above the market-clearing level. This is often ascribed to government intervention, as with the minimum wage, or labour unions. Some, such as Murray Rothbard, suggest that even social taboos can prevent wages from falling to the market clearing level.

Structural unemployment is caused by a mismatch between jobs offered by employers and potential workers. This may pertain to geographical location, skills, and many other factors. If such a mismatch exists, frictional unemployment is likely to be more significant as well.

For example, in the late 1990s there was a tech bubble, creating demand for computer specialists. In 2000-2001 this bubble collapsed. A housing bubble soon formed, creating demand for real estate workers, and many computer workers had to retrain to find employment.

Seasonal unemployment occurs when an occupation is not in demand at certain seasons.

Cyclical or Keynesian unemployment, also known as demand deficient unemployment, occurs when there is not enough aggregate demand in the economy. This is caused by a business cycle recession, and wages not falling to meet the equilibrium rate.

There is considerable debate among economists as to the causes of unemployment. Keynesian economics emphasizes unemployment resulting from insufficient effective demand for goods and services in the economy (cyclical unemployment). Others point to structural problems, inefficiencies, inherent in labour markets (structural unemployment). Classical or neoclassical economics tends to reject these explanations, and focuses more on rigidities imposed on the labor market from the outside, such as minimum wage laws, taxes, and other regulations that may discourage the hiring of workers (classical unemployment). Yet others see unemployment as largely due to voluntary choices by the unemployed (frictional unemployment).

Open unemployment is generally associated with capitalist economies. In this view, unemployment is not an aberration of capitalism, indicating any sort of systemic malfunction. Rather, unemployment is a necessary structural feature of capitalism, intended to discipline the workforce. If unemployment is too low, workers make wage demands that either cuts into profits to an extent that jeopardize future investment, or are passed on to consumers, thus generating inflationary instability. David Schweickart suggests, "Capitalism cannot be a full-employment economy, except in the very short term. For unemployment is the "invisible hand" -- carrying a stick -- that keeps the workforce in line.".

Classical economists dispute this, arguing that when there is too high a supply of labour, providing unions and Government have no prevented wage changes, the wage rate should fall, returning the economy to its long run efficient position at full employment.

Libertarian thinkers like F.A. Hayek claimed that unemployment increases the more the government intervenes into the economy to try to improve the rights of those with jobs. For example, he asserted that minimum wages raise the cost of labour to above the market equilibrium, resulting in people who wish to work at the going rate but cannot as the wages are higher than their worth to business; unemployment. They believed that laws restricting layoffs made businesses less likely to hire in the first place leaving many young people unemployed and unable to find work.

This school (the Austrian School) argued that the results of both actions lead to less productivity and are claimed to incur a higher cost on society as a whole. The results lead to not just higher unemployment but may increase poverty. The narrative continued by saying that the welfare state then responds with various benefits that are paid for by the middle and upper class which reduces their ability to consume and reduces the incentive to work hard and innovate for all sections of society, as the poor have income without working and the rich see their reward for work reduced. Economists like Ludwig Von Mises, Milton Friedman, Friedrich Von Hayek not only believe that the welfare of society decreases with this kind of intervention but that these economic policies are not sustainable.

One of the explanations behind (structural unemployment) and a warning that this kind of unemployment could be permanent in modern society, came from economist and philosopher André Gorz.The microchip revolution and the explosion in computer science and robotising of work even in less developed industrialized countries is the main reason.

He therefore argues that the idea of `working less so everyone can work and that an basic income for all must be the solution,and he explains: "The connection between more and better has been broken; our needs for many products and services are already more than adequately met, and many of our as-yet- unsatisfied needs will be met not by producing more, but by producing differently, producing other things, or even producing less. This is especially true as regards our needs for air, water, space, silence, beauty, time and human contact...

Okun's law states that for every 2% GDP falls relative to potential GDP, unemployment rises 1% (of the total workforce). When the economy operates at productive capacity, it will experience the natural rate of unemployment.

Societies try a number of different measures to get as many people as possible into work. However, attempts to reduce the level of unemployment beyond the Natural rate of unemployment generally fail, resulting only in less output and more inflation.

Normal markets reach equilibrium, where supply equals demand; everyone who wants to sell at the market price can. Those who do not want to sell at this price do not; in the labour market this is classical unemployment. Increases in the demand for labour will move the economy along the demand curve, increasing wages and employment. The demand for labour in an economy is derived from the demand for goods and services. As such, if the demand for goods and services in the economy increases, the demand for labour will increase, increasing employment and wages.

Monetary policy and fiscal policy can both be used to increase short-term growth in the economy, increasing the demand for labour and decreasing unemployment.

However, the labour market is not efficient: it doesn't clear. Minimum wages and union activity keep wages from falling, which means too many people want to sell their labour at the going price but cannot. Supply-side policies can solve this by making the labour market more flexible. These include removing the minimum wage and reducing the power of unions, which act as a labour cartel. Other supply side policies include education to make workers more attractive to employers.

Supply side reforms also increase long-term growth. This increased supply of goods and services requires more workers, increasing employment. It is argued that supply side policies, which include cutting taxes on businesses and reducing regulation, create jobs and reduce unemployment.

One structural solution to unemployment proposed was a graduated retail tax, or "jobs levy", to firms where labor is more expensive than capital. This method will shift tax burden to capital intensive firms and away from labor intensive firms. In theory this will make firms shift operations to a more politically desired balance between labor intensive and capital intensive production. The excess tax revenue from the jobs levy would finance labor intensive public projects. However, by raising the value of labour artificially above capital, this would discourage capital investment, the source of economic growth. With less growth, long-run employment would fall.

Unemployed individuals are unable to earn money to meet financial obligations. Failure to pay mortgage payments or to pay rent may lead to homelessness through foreclosure or eviction. Unemployment increases susceptibility to malnutrition, illness, mental stress, and loss of self-esteem, leading to depression. According to a study published in Social Indicator Research, even those who tend to be optimistic find it difficult to look on the bright side of things when unemployed. Using interviews and data from German participants aged 16 to 94 – including individuals coping with the stresses of real life and not just a volunteering student population – the researchers determined that even optimists struggled with being unemployed.

Dr. M. Brenner conducted a study in 1979 on the "Influence of the Social Environment on Psychology." Brenner found that for every 10% increase in the number of unemployed there is a 1.2% in total mortality, a 1.7% increase in cardiovascular disease, 1.3% more cirrhosis cases, 1.7% more suicides, 0.4% more arrests, and 0.8% more assaults reported to the police. A more recent study by Christopher Ruhm on the effect of recessions on health found that several measures of health actually improve during recessions. As for the impact of an economic downturn on crime, during the Great Depression the crime rate did not decrease. Because unemployment insurance in the U.S. typically does not replace 50% of the income one received on the job (and one cannot receive it forever), the unemployed often end up tapping welfare programs such as Food Stamps or accumulating debt. Higher government transfer payments in the form of welfare and food stamps decrease spending on productive economic goods, decreasing GDP.

Some hold that many of the low-income jobs are not really a better option than unemployment with a welfare state (with its unemployment insurance benefits). But since it is difficult or impossible to get unemployment insurance benefits without having worked in the past, these jobs and unemployment are more complementary than they are substitutes. (These jobs are often held short-term, either by students or by those trying to gain experience; turnover in most low-paying jobs is high) Unemployment insurance keeps an available supply of workers for the low-paying jobs, while the employers' choice of management techniques (low wages and benefits, few chances for advancement) is made with the existence of unemployment insurance in mind. This combination promotes the existence of one kind of unemployment, frictional unemployment.

Another cost for the unemployed is that the combination of unemployment, lack of financial resources, and social responsibilities may push unemployed workers to take jobs that do not fit their skills or allow them to use their talents. Unemployment can cause underemployment.

The fear of job loss can spur psychological anxiety.

An economy with high unemployment is not using all of the resources, i.e. labour, available to it. Since it is operating below its production possibility frontier, it could have higher output if all the workforce were usefully employed. However, there is a trade off between economic efficiency and unemployment: if the frictionally unemployed accepted the first job they were offered, they would be likely to be operating at below their skill level, reducing the economy's efficiency.

It is estimated that, during the Great Depression, unemployment due to sticky wages cost the US economy about $4 trillion. This is many times larger than losses due to monopolies, cartels and tariffs.

High unemployment can encourage xenophobia and protectionism as workers fear that foreigners are stealing their jobs. Efforts to preserve existing jobs of domestic and native workers include legal barriers against "outsiders" who want jobs, obstacles to immigration, and/or tariffs and similar trade barriers against foreign competitors.

Finally, a rising unemployment rate concentrates the oligopsony power of employers by increasing competition amongst workers for scarce employment opportunities..

Preliterate communities treat their members as parts of an extended family and thus do not allow unemployment. In precapitalist societies such as European feudalism, the serfs were never "unemployed" because they had direct access to the land, and the needed tools, and could thus work to produce crops. Just as on the American frontier during the nineteenth century, there were day laborers and subsistence farmers on poor land, whose position in society was somewhat analogous to the unemployed of today. But they were not truly unemployed, since they could find work and support themselves on the land.

The decade of the 1930s saw the Great Depression in the United States and many other countries. In 1929, the U.S. unemployment rate averaged 3%. In 1933, 25% of all American workers and 37% of all nonfarm workers were unemployed. In Cleveland, Ohio, the unemployment rate was 60%; in Toledo, Ohio, 80%. Unemployment in Canada reached 27% at the depth of the Depression in 1933. In some towns and cities in the north east of England, unemployment reached as high as 70%. In Germany the unemployment rate reached nearly 25% in 1932. One Soviet trading corporation in New York averaged 350 applications a day from Americans seeking jobs in the Soviet Union. There were two million homeless people migrating across the United States. One Arkansas man walked 900 miles looking for work.

Under both ancient and modern systems of slave-labor, slave-owners never let their property be unemployed for long. (If anything, they would sell the unneeded laborer.) Planned economies such as the old Soviet Union or today's Cuba typically provide occupation for everyone, using substantial overstaffing if necessary. (This is called "hidden unemployment," which is sometimes seen as a kind of underemployment, definition 3.) Workers' cooperatives—such as those producing plywood in the U.S. Pacific Northwest—do not let their members become unemployed unless the co-op itself goes bankrupt.

As defined by the International Labour Organization, "unemployed workers" are those who are currently not working but are willing and able to work for pay, currently available to work, and have actively searched for work.

Since not all unemployment may be "open" and counted by government agencies, official statistics on unemployment may not be accurate.

Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, defines unemployed as those persons age 15 to 74 who are not working, have looked for work in the last four weeks, and ready to start work within two weeks, which conform to ILO standards. Both the actual count and rate of employment are reported. Statistical data are available by member state, EU12, EU15, EU25, EU27, EA11, and EA13. Eurostat also includes a long-term unemployment rate. This is defined as part of the unemployed who have been unemployed for an excess of 1 year.

At this time Germany's unemployment data are collected separately from the (EU-LFS).

Note: "Marginally attached workers" are added to the total labor force for unemployment rate calculation for U4, U5, and U6. The BLS drastically revised the CPS in 1994 and among the changes the measure representing the official unemployment rate was renamed U3 instead of U5.

The Current Employment Statistics survey (CES), or "Payroll Survey", conducts a survey based on a sample of 160,000 businesses and government agencies that represent 400,000 individual employers. This survey measures only nonagricultural, nonsupervisory employment; thus, it does not calculate an unemployment rate, and it differs from the ILO unemployment rate definition. These two sources have different classification criteria, and usually produce differing results. Additional data are also available from the government, such as the unemployment insurance weekly claims report available from the Office of Workforce Security, within the U.S. Department of Labor Employment & Training Administration.

These statistics are for the U.S. economy as a whole, hiding variations among groups. For January 2008 in the U.S. the unemployment rates were 4.4% for adult men, 4.2% for adult women, 4.4% for Caucasians, 6.3% for Hispanics or Latinos (all races), 9.2% for African Americans, 3.2% for Asian Americans, and 18.0% for teenagers.

These percentages represent the usual rough ranking of these different groups' unemployment rates. The absolute numbers change over time and with the business cycle. The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides up-to-date numbers via a pdf linked here. The BLS also provides a readable concise current Employment Situation Summary, updated monthly.

The unemployment rate may be different from the impact of the economy on people. The unemployment figures indicate how many are not working for pay but seeking employment for pay. It is only indirectly connected with the number of people who are actually not working at all or working without pay. Therefore, critics believe that current methods of measuring unemployment are inaccurate in terms of the impact of unemployment on people as these methods do not take into account the 1.5% of the available working population incarcerated in U.S. prisons (who may or may not be working while incarcerated), those who have lost their jobs and have become discouraged over time from actively looking for work, those who are self-employed or wish to become self-employed, such as tradesmen or building contractors or IT consultants, those who have retired before the official retirement age but would still like to work (involuntary early retirees), those on disability pensions who, while not possessing full health, still wish to work in occupations suitable for their medical conditions, those who work for payment for as little as one hour per week but would like to work full-time. These people are "involuntary part-time" workers, those who are underemployed, e.g., a computer programmer who is working in a retail store until he can find a permanent job, involuntary stay-at-home mothers who would prefer to work, and graduate and Professional school students who were unable to find worthwhile jobs after they graduated with their Bachelor's degrees.

On the other hand, the measures of employment and unemployment may be "too high". In some countries, the availability of unemployment benefits can inflate statistics since they give an incentive to register as unemployed. People who do not really seek work may choose to declare themselves unemployed so as to get benefits; people with undeclared paid occupations may try to get unemployment benefits in addition to the money they earn from their work. Conversely, the absence of any tangible benefit for registering as unemployed discourages people from registering.

However, in countries such as the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Japan and the European Union, unemployment is measured using a sample survey (akin to a Gallup poll). According to the BLS, a number of Eastern European nations have instituted labor force surveys as well. The sample survey has its own problems because the total number of workers in the economy is calculated based on a sample rather than a census.

It is possible to be neither employed nor unemployed by ILO definitions, i.e., to be outside of the "labor force." These are people who have no job and are not looking for one. Many of these are going to school or are retired. Family responsibilities keep others out of the labor force. Still others have a physical or mental disability which prevents them from participating in labor force activities.

Typically, employment and the labor force include only work done for monetary gain. Hence, a homemaker is neither part of the labor force nor unemployed. Nor are full-time students nor prisoners considered to be part of the labor force or unemployment. The latter can be important. In 1999, economists Lawrence F. Katz and Alan B. Krueger estimated that increased incarceration lowered measured unemployment in the United States by 0.17% between 1985 and the late 1990s. In particular, as of 2005, roughly 0.7% of the US population is incarcerated (1.5% of the available working population).

Children, the elderly, and some individuals with disabilities are typically not counted as part of the labor force in and are correspondingly not included in the unemployment statistics. However, some elderly and many disabled individuals are active in the labor market.

In the early stages of an economic boom, unemployment often rises. This is because people join the labor market (give up studying, start a job hunt, etc.) because of the improving job market, but until they have actually found a position they are counted as unemployed. Similarly, during a recession, the increase in the unemployment rate is moderated by people leaving the labor force or being otherwise discounted from the labor force, such as with the self-employed.

For the fourth quarter of 2004, according to OECD, (source Employment Outlook 2005 ISBN 92-64-01045-9), normalized unemployment for men aged 25 to 54 was 4.6% in the USA and 7.4% in France. At the same time and for the same population the employment rate (number of workers divided by population) was 86.3% in the U.S. and 86.7% in France.

This example shows that the unemployment rate is 60% higher in France than in the USA, yet more people in this demographic are working in France than in the USA, which is counterintuitive if it is expected that the unemployment rate reflects the health of the labor market. .

Due to these deficiencies, many labor market economists prefer to look at a range of economic statistics such as labor market participation rate, the percentage of people aged between 15 and 64 who are currently employed or searching for employment, the total number of full-time jobs in an economy, the number of people seeking work as a raw number and not a percentage, and the total number of person-hours worked in a month compared to the total number of person-hours people would like to work. In particular the NBER does not use the unemployment rate but prefer various employment rates to date recessions .

The most developed countries have aids for the unemployed as part of the social welfare. These unemployment benefits include unemployment insurance, welfare, unemployment compensation and subsidies to aid in retraining. The main goal of these programs is to alleviate short-term hardships and, more importantly, to allow workers more time to search for a good job.

In the U.S. the unemployment insurance allowance one receives is based solely on previous income (not time worked, family size, etc.) and usually compensates for one-third of one's previous income. To qualify, one must reside in their respective state for at least a year and, of course, work. The system was established by the Social Security Act of 1935. While 90% of citizens are covered on paper, only 40% could actually receive benefits. In cases of highly seasonal industries the system provides income to workers during the off seasons, thus encouraging them to stay attached to the industry.

In the United States the New Deal made unemployment relief a top governmental priority. The goal of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) was to employ most of the unemployed people on relief until the economy recovered. FERA/WPA director Harry Hopkins testified to Congress in January 1935 why he set the number at 3.5 million, using FERA data. At $1200 per worker per year he asked for and received $4 billion.

The WPA did not quite reach 3.5 million--its maximum was 3.3 million in November 1938. Worker pay was based on three factors: the region of the country, the degree of urbanization and the individual's skill. It varied from $19/month to $94/month. The goal was to pay the local prevailing wage, but to limit a person to 30 hours or less a week of work. About 75% of WPA employment and 75% of WPA expenditures went to public infrastructure, such as highways, airports, parks and libraries.

Congress shut down the WPA in late 1943 as World War II created thousands of jobs in the military.

See also welfare and training.

Say's law declares that, in time, "markets clear" in an unfettered, unregulated laissez-faire economy: every seller will find a buyer at some strike price, and every buyer will find a seller at some strike price. Sellers and buyers may refuse the strike price but this personal decision is voluntary, which causes the selling or buying to leave the economic model. This theory relies heavily on the absence of government regulation and assumes a developed economy without sabotage where labor strikes, as opposed to strike (mutually agreed upon) prices, are illegal.

Keynes tried to demonstrate in The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money that Say's law did not work in the real world of the 1930s Depression because of oversaving and private investor timidity, and that in consequence people could be thrown out of work involuntarily without being able to find acceptable new jobs.

This conflict of the neoclassical and Keynesian theories has had strong influence on government policy. The tendency for government is to curtail and eliminate unemployment through increases in benefits and government jobs, and to encourage the job-seeker to both consider new careers and relocation to another city.

Involuntary unemployment does not exist in agrarian societies nor is it formally recognized to exist in underdeveloped but urban societies such as the mega-cities of Africa and of India/Pakistan, given that, in such societies, the suddenly unemployed person must meet his survival needs, by getting a new job quickly at any strike price, entrepreneurship, or joining the invisible economy of the hustler.

From the narrative standpoint, involuntary unemployment is discussed in the stories by Ehrenreich, the narrative sociology of Bourdieu, and novels of social suffering such as John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men.

Unemployment may have advantages as well as disadvantages for the overall economy. Notably, it may help avert runaway inflation, which negatively affects almost everyone in the affected economy and has serious long-term economic costs. However the historic assumption that full local employment must lead directly to local inflation has been attenuated, as recently expanded international trade has shown itself able to continue to supply low-priced goods even as local employment rates rise closer to full employment.

The inflation-fighting benefits to the entire economy arising from a presumed optimum level of unemployment has been studied extensively. Before current levels of world trade were developed, unemployment was demonstrated to reduce inflation, following the Phillips curve, or to decelerate inflation, following the NAIRU/natural rate of unemployment theory. since it is relatively easy to seek a new job without losing one's current one. And when more jobs are available for fewer workers (lower unemployment), it may allow workers to find the jobs that better fit their tastes, talents, and needs.

As in the Marxian theory of unemployment, special interests may also benefit: some employers may expect that employees with no fear of losing their jobs will not work as hard, or will demand increased wages and benefit. According to this theory, unemployment may promote general labor productivity and profitability by increasing employers' monopsony-like power (and profits).

Optimal unemployment has also been defended as an environmental tool to brake the constantly accelerated growth of the GDP to maintain levels sustainable in the context of resource constraints and environmental impacts. However the tool of denying jobs to willing workers seems a blunt instrument for conserving resources and the environment -- it reduces the consumption of the unemployed across the board, and only in the short-term. Full employment of the unemployed workforce, all focused toward the goal of developing more environmentally efficient methods for production and consumption might provide a more significant and lasting cumulative environmental benefit and reduced resource consumption. If so the future economy and workforce would benefit from the resultant structural increases in the sustainable level of GDP growth.

Some critics of the "culture of work" such as anarchist Bob Black see employment as overemphasized culturally in modern countries. Such critics often propose quitting jobs when possible, working less, reassessing the cost of living to this end, creation of jobs which are "fun" as opposed to "work," and creating cultural norms where work is seen as unhealthy. These people advocate an "anti-work" ethic for life.

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Unemployment benefits

Unemployment benefits are payments made by governments to unemployed people. It may be based on a compulsory para-governmental insurance system. Depending on the jurisdiction and the status of the person, those sums may be meager, covering only basic needs (thus a form of basic welfare), or may compensate the lost pay somewhat proportionally to the previous earned salary. They often are part of a larger social security scheme.

Unemployment benefits are generally given only to those registering as unemployed, and often on conditions ensuring that they seek work and do not currently have a job.

In Australia, social security benefits, including unemployment benefits, are funded through the income tax system. There is no compulsory national unemployment insurance fund, rather, benefits are provided for in the annual Federal Budget by the National Treasury and are administrated and distributed throughout the nation by Centrelink. Benefit rates are indexed to the Consumer Price Index and are adjusted twice a year according to the amount of underlying inflation or deflation.

There are two types of payment available to those experiencing unemployment. The first, called Youth Allowance, is paid to young people aged 16-20 (or 15, if deemed independent by Centrelink). Youth Allowance is also paid to full-time students aged 16-24, and to full-time Australian Apprenticeship workers aged 16-24. People aged below 18 who have not completed their High School education, are usually required to be in full-time education, undertaking an apprenticeship or doing training to be eligible for Youth Allowance. For single under 18 year olds living at home the basic rate is AUD$91.60 per week. For over 18 to 20 years olds living at home this increases to AUD$110.15 per week. For those aged 18-20 not living at home the rate is AUD$167.35 per week. There are special rates for those with partners and/or children.

The second kind of payment is called Newstart Allowance and is paid to unemployed people over the age of 21 and under the pension eligibility age. To get Newstart you must be unemployed, be prepared to enter into an Activity Agreement (by which you agree to undertake certain activities to increase your opportunities for employment), are an Australian Resident and satisfy the income test (which limits weekly income to AUD$32 per week before benefits begin to reduce, until your income reaches AUD$397.42 per week at which point no unemployment benefits are paid) and the assets test (you can have assets of up to AUD$161,500 if you own a home before the allowance begins to reduce and $278,500 if you do not own a home). The rate of Newstart allowance for single people is AUD$210.45 per week, paid fortnightly. Different rates apply to people with partners and/or children.

The system in Australia is designed to support citizens no matter how long they have been unemployed for. This has been criticized by some conservative commentators, who allege that welfare generates a 'culture of welfare dependence'. In recent years the former Coalition government under John Howard has increased the requirements of the Activity Agreement, providing for controversial schemes such as Work for the Dole, which requires that people on benefits for 6 months or longer work voluntarily for a community organization to increase their skills and job prospects. There are other options available as alternatives to the Work for the Dole scheme, such as undertaking part-time work or study and training, the basic premise of the Activity Agreement being to keep the welfare recipient active and involved in seeking full-time work.

For people renting their accommodation, unemployment benefits are supplemented by Rent Assistance, which, for single people, begins to be paid when the weekly rent is more than AUD$45.90. Rent Assistance is paid as a proportion of total rent paid. The maximum amount of rent assistance payable is AUD$51.60 per week, and is paid when the total weekly rent exceeds AUD$114.70 per week. Different rates apply to people with partners and/or children, or who are sharing accommodation.

In Canada the system now known as Employment Insurance, was formerly called Unemployment Insurance until 1996 when it was subsequently changed due to perceived negative connotations. Canadian workers pay into a central fund that contributors can draw on if later unable to work. Since 1990, there is no government contribution to this fund. The amount a person receives and how long they can stay on EI varies with their previous salary, how long they were working, and the unemployment rate in their area. The EI system is managed by Service Canada, a service delivery network reporting to the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development Canada.

A bit over half of EI benefits are paid in Ontario and the Western provinces but EI is especially important in the Atlantic provinces, which have higher rates of unemployment. Many Atlantic workers are also employed in seasonal work such as fishing, forestry or tourism and go on EI over the winter when there is no work. There are special rules for fishermen making it easier for them to collect EI. EI also pays for maternity and parental leave, compassionate care leave, and illness coverage. The program also pays for retraining programs (EI Part II) through labour market agreements with the Canadian provinces.

An unemployment insurance program was first attempted in 1935 during the Great Depression by the government of R.B. Bennett. It was, however, ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada as unemployment was considered a provincial responsibility. After a constitutional amendment was agreed to by the provinces, a reference to "Unemployment Insurance" was added to the matters falling under federal authority under the British North America Act, and the first Canadian system was adopted in 1940. Because of these problems Canada was the last major Western country to bring in an employment insurance system. It was extended dramatically by Pierre Trudeau in 1971 making it much easier to get. After this act more than 80 percent of unemployed Canadians received benefits. The system was sometimes called the 10/42, because one had to work for 10 weeks to get benefits for the other 42 weeks of the year. It was also in 1971 that the UI program was first opened up to maternity and sickness benefits, for 15 weeks in each case.

The generosity of the Canadian UI program was progressively toned during the 10 years or so that followed the 1971 UI Act, and the federal government continuously reduced its financial contribution, eliminating it entirely by 1990. The EI system was again cut by the Progressive Conservatives in 1990 and 1993, then by the Liberals in 1994 and 1996. Amendments made it harder to qualify by increasing the time needed to be worked - although those seasonal claimants who work long hours over short periods turned out to gain from the replacement, in 1996, of weeks by hours to qualify. Today, the ratio of beneficiaries to unemployed stands around 40 percent, due to many unemployed persons not being covered at all (e.g. the self-employed), having exhausted the benefits they were entitled to, or not having worked long enough to qualify. However, it is noted that 80 percent of insured job-losers do initially receive EI benefits in Canada. The length of time one could take EI has also been cut repeatedly. The 1994 and 1996 changes contributed to a sharp fall in Liberal support in the Atlantic provinces in the 1997 election.

In 2001, the federal government increased parental leave from 10 to 35 weeks and allowed workers to take EI for compassionate care leave while caring for a dying relative. Total EI spending is projected at $16.4 billion for 2007 (figures in Canadian dollars).

A significant part of the federal fiscal surplus of the Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin years came from the EI system. Premiums were reduced much less than falling expenditures - producing, from 1994 onwards, EI surpluses of several billion dollars per year, which were added to general government revenue. The cumulative EI surplus stood at $54.4 billion at March 31, 2007, about three times as high as necessary. This drew criticism from Opposition parties and from business and labour groups, and has remained a central issue of the Bloc Québécois. The Conservative Party, after espousing such criticism while in opposition, chose not to take any action after being elected in 2006. On May 24, 2007, the Supreme Court of Canada agreed to examine a court challenge launched against the federal government by two Quebec unions, who argue that EI funds have been misappropriated by the government.

The level of benefit is set between the minimum wage and the minimum living allowance by individual provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities.

In the Italian unemployment insurance system all the measures are income-related, and they have an average decommodification level. The basis for entitlement is always employment, with more specific conditions for each case, and the provider is quite always the state. An interesting feature worthy to be discussed is that the Italian system takes in consideration also the economic situation of the employers, and aims as well at relieving them from the costs of crisis.

In New Zealand the benefit is $148.73 weekly after tax for single person who is 20-24 years and Married, de-facto or civil union couple with or without children each. Single 25 years or over gets $178.49 per week after tax. The benefit payment can reduce due to any income the person or their partner earns.

People aged 18 and over and who are unemployed in Ireland can apply for either the Jobseeker's Allowance (Liúntas do Lucht Cuardaigh Fostaíochta) or the Jobseeker's Benefit (Sochar do Lucht Cuardaigh Fostaíochta). Both are paid by the Department of Social and Family Affairs and are nicknamed "the dole".

The standard payment is €204.30 (maximum rate 2009) per week. Payments can be increased if the unemployed has dependants. For each adult dependent, another €135.60 (maximum rate 2009) is added; and for each child dependent, another €26.00 (maximum rate 2009) is added.

There are more benefits available to unemployed people, usually on a special or specific basis. Benefits include the Rent Supplement, the Mortgage Interest Supplement, Fuel Allowance and the Smokeless Fuel Allowance, among others. People on a low income (which includes those on JA/JB) are entitled to a Medical Card (although this must be applied for separately from the Health Service Executive) which provides free health care, optical care, dental care, aural care, and prescription drugs (as opposed to subsidised services like non medical-card holders). Education (at all levels) is free to all, not just the unemployed, already.

To qualify for Jobseekers Allowance, a claimant must satisfy the "Habitual Residence Condition", ie they must have been legally in the state (or the Common Travel Area) for two years or have another good reason (eg have lived abroad and are returning to Ireland after become unemployed or deported). This condition does not apply to Jobseekers Benefit (which is based on Social Insurance payments).

In Sweden unemployment benefits are divided into a voluntary scheme with income related compensation up to a certain level and a comprehensive scheme that provides a lower level of basic support. The voluntary scheme requires a minimum of 12 months membership and a certain degree of employment during that time before any claims can be made. Employers pay a fee on top of the pre-tax income of their employees, which together with membership fees, fund the scheme (see Unemployment funds in Sweden).

The maximum unemployment benefit is (as of July 2007) SEK 680 per day (SEK 14,960 per month). During the first 200 days the unemployed will receive 80 percent of his or her normal income during the last 12 months. From day 201-300 this goes down to 70 percent and from day 301-450 the insurance covers 65 percent of the normal income (only available for parents to children under the age of 18). In Sweden tax is paid on unemployment benefits, so the unemployed will get a maximum of about SEK 10,000 per month during the first 100 days (depending on the municipality tax rate). In other currencies this means a maximum of approximately £730, $1,650, or €1,100, each month after tax. Private insurance is also available, mainly through professional organizations, to provide income related compensation that otherwise exceeds the ceiling of the scheme. The comprehensive scheme is funded by tax.

Saudi Arabia is an economic welfare state with free medical care and unemployment benefits. However, the country relies not on taxation but mainly oil revenues to maintain the social and economic services to its populace.

JSA for a single person is changed annually, and at 9 April 2007 the maximum payable was £59.15 per week for a person aged over 25, £46.85 per week for a person aged 18-24 and £36.65 per week for a person aged between 16 and 17. The rules for couples where both are unemployed are more complex, but a maximum of £92.80 per week is payable, dependent on age and other factors. Income-based JSA is reduced for people with savings of over £6,000, by a reduction of £1 per week per £250 of savings, up to £16,000. People with savings of over £16,000 are not able to get IB-JSA at all. The British system provides rent payments as part of a separate scheme called Housing Benefit. Unemployed persons are able to submit Enduring Power of Attorney/Lasting Power of Attorney submissions free of charge saving £120 each.

Unemployment benefits were first instituted in 1911. Over 2 million people were relying on the payments by 1921, as the United Kingdom was experiencing economic hardship after World War I.

To receive unemployment benefit is commonly referred to as "being on the dole", "dole" being an archaic expression meaning "one's allotted portion", from the synonymous Old English word dāl.

Unemployment Compensation is an amount received by an unemployed worker, originating from the United States or a state. In the United States, this compensation is classified as a type of social welfare benefit. According to the Internal Revenue Code, these types of benefits are to be included in a taxpayer’s gross income.

Wisconsin originated the idea of unemployment insurance (UI) in the U.S. in 1932. In the United States, there are 50 state unemployment insurance programs plus one each in the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Through the Social Security Act of 1935, the Federal Government of the United States effectively coerced the individual states into adopting unemployment insurance plans.

To facilitate this program, the U.S. Congress passed the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA), which authorizes the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to collect an annual federal employer tax used to fund state workforce agencies. FUTA covers the costs of administering the Unemployment Insurance and Job Service programs in all states. In addition, FUTA pays one-half of the cost of extended unemployment benefits (during periods of high unemployment) and provides for a fund from which states may borrow, if necessary, to pay benefits. As originally established, the states paid the federal government.

The FUTA tax rate was originally three percent of taxable wages collected from employers who employed at least four employees, and employers could deduct up to 90 percent of the amount due if they paid taxes to a state to support a system of unemployment insurance which met Federal standards, but the rules have changed as follows. The FUTA tax rate is now 6.2 percent of taxable wages of employees who meet both the above and following criteria, and the taxable wage base is the first $7,000 paid in wages to each employee during a calendar year. Employers who pay the state unemployment tax on a timely basis receive an offset credit of up to 5.4 percent regardless of the rate of tax they pay their state. Therefore, the net FUTA tax rate is generally 0.8 percent (6.2 percent - 5.4 percent), for a maximum FUTA tax of $56.00 per employee, per year (.008 X $7,000 = $56.00). State law determines individual state unemployment insurance tax rates.

Within the above constraints, the individual states and territories raise their own contributions and run their own programs. The federal government sets broad guidelines for coverage and eligibility, but states vary in how they determine benefits and eligibility.

Federal rules are drawn by the United States Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration. For most states, the maximum period for receiving benefits is 26 weeks. There is an extended benefit program (authorized through the Social Security Acts) that may be triggered by state economic conditions. Congress has often passed temporary programs to extend benefits during economic recessions. Most recently, this was through the Temporary Extended Unemployment Compensation (TEUC) program, which has since expired.

The federal government lends money to the states for unemployment insurance when the states run short of funds. In general, this can happen when the unemployment rate is high. The need for loans can be exacerbated when a state cuts taxes and increases benefits. All loans must be repaid with interest.

Congressional actions to massively increase penalties for states incurring large debts for unemployment benefits led to state fiscal crises in the 1980s.

Because it is a joint federal/state program run by the states, taxing business for the benefit of labor, the politics of unemployment insurance are very complex.

The Unemployment Insurance (UI) program helps counter economic fluctuations. When the economy grows, UI program revenue rises through increased tax revenues while UI program spending falls as fewer workers are unemployed. The effect of collecting more taxes than are spent dampens demand in the economy. This also creates a surplus of funds or a "cushion" of available funds for the UI program to draw upon during a recession. In a recession, UI tax revenue falls and UI program spending rises as more workers lose their jobs and receive UC benefits. The increased amount of UI payments to unemployed workers puts additional funds into the economy and dampens the effect of earnings losses.

The majority of American workers do not qualify for unemployment insurance. This includes part-time, temporary, and self-employed workers.

Generally, the worker must be unemployed through no fault of his/her own (generally through lay-offs). Unemployment benefits are based on reported covered quarterly earnings. The amount of earnings and the number of quarters worked are used to determine the length and value of the unemployment benefit.

It generally takes two weeks for benefit payments to begin, the first being a "waiting week", which is not reimbursed, and the second being the time lag between eligibility for the program and the first benefit actually being paid.

To begin a claim, the unemployed worker must apply for benefits through a state unemployment agency. In certain instances, the employer initiates the process. Generally, the certification includes affected person affirming that they are "able and available for work", the amount of any part-time earnings they may have had, and whether they are actively seeking work. These certifications are usually accomplished either by internet or via an interactive voice response telephone call, but in a few states may be by mail. After receiving an application, the state will notify the individual if they qualify and the rate they will receive every week. The state will also review the reason for separation from employment. Many states require the individual to periodically certify that the conditions of the benefits are still met.

Each Thursday, the Department of Labor issues the Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report. Its headline number is the seasonally adjusted estimate for the initial claims for unemployment for the previous week in the United States. This statistic, because of its timeliness, is an important indicator of the health of the labor market, and more broadly, the vigor of the overall economy. Numbers below 300,000 tend to indicate a tightening labor market whereas numbers above 400,000 are associated with increasing unemployment.

The argument for taxation of social welfare benefits is that they result in a realized gain for a taxpayer. The argument against taxation is that the benefits are generally less than the federal poverty level.

Unemployment compensation has been taxable by the federal government since 1987. Code Section 85 deemed unemployment compensation included in gross income. Federal taxes are not withheld from unemployment compensation at the time of payment unless requested by the recipient using Form W-4V.

In 2003, Rep. Philip English introduced legislation to repeal the taxation of unemployment compensation, but the legislation did not advance past committee. Most states with income tax consider unemployment compensation to be taxable.

Prior to 1987, unemployment compensation amounts were excluded from federal gross income.

For the US Federal tax year of 2009, as a result of the signing of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 signed by Barack Obama on February 17, 2009 the first $2,400 worth of unemployment income received during the 'tax year' of 2009 will be exempted from being considered as taxable income on the Federal level, when American taxpayers file their 2009 IRS tax return paperwork in early 2010.

Employers have the option of reducing work hours to part-time for many employees instead of laying off some of them and retaining only full-time workers. Employees in 18 states can then receive unemployment payments for the hours they are no longer working.

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List of countries by unemployment rate

Map of world unemployment rates based on CIA Factbook data

This is a list of countries by unemployment rate. Unless indicated otherwise, information is based on The World Factbook . Several non-sovereign entities are also included in this list.

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Unemployment Provision Convention, 1934 (shelved)

Unemployment Provision Convention, 1934 (shelved) is an International Labour Organization Convention.

Having decided upon the adoption of certain proposals with regard to unemployment insurance and various forms of relief for the unemployed,...

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California unemployment statistics

This table shows California unemployment statistics from 1976 through 2006. The data source is the "Labor Force & Unemployment Data" page from the official State of California website. The unemployment rates are annual averages without seasonal adjustment. The 1976-1989 rates are based on the March, 2004 benchmark and were last updated April 26, 2005. The 1990-2006 rates are based the March, 2006 benchmark and were last updated May 18, 2007.

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Unemployment funds in Sweden

In Sweden, an unemployment fund (Swedish: arbetslöshetskassa) is an economic association tied to a trade union (except the Unemployment fund Alfa).

Since July 1, 2002, an unemployment fund is to some extent equal to a government agency, and is as thus comprised by the Freedom of the Press Act of the Swedish constitution. The primary function of the unemployment funds is to administrate and pay unemployment benefits, according to law (Lag om arbetslöshetsförsäkring (1997:238) and Lag om arbetslöshetskassor (1997:239)).

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Source : Wikipedia