For many unemployed people, the recession is about to get worse. Funds that the Oregon Legislature set aside for emergency unemployment benefits are now gone. So if you're one of the 3,000 people receiving Oregon Emergency Benefits, except your final check this week. Lawmakers had set aside $19 million during a 2010 special session to get unemployed workers through the typically difficult summer months.
In 2010 alone, more than 14,000 people have exhausted every unemployment insurance benefit available. For workers who lose their job through no fault of their own now, there will be 26 weeks of regular unemployment and 20 weeks of extended benefits available to them.
All this at a time that the Bureau of Labor Statistics say employment has remained largely static since February 2009 at about 10.6 percent.
For a visual graph of the unemployment problem in Oregon, visit http://www.qualityinfo.org/olmisj/OlmisZine
Throughout various sectors of Oregon's economy, jobs were hard to come by. Government added 6,800 jobs in May, but a majority of these are expected to be seasonal. Other sectors, including transportation, warehousing, financial activities and education dropped jobs or stayed flat. Blue collar sector jobs in manufacturing and construction added 700 and 1,700, respectively. Despite gains, the number of jobs is still far below the beginning of the recession.
Both Oregon and Washington state governments have been forced to trim their own budgets. Many agency staff have been forced to take multiple furlough days or close the agency entirely for a term.
Washington state recently passed legislation to "reduce government spending for employees" and subsequently will be forced to close for 10 days this year or submit an "alternate compensation reduction plan" that must be approved by the Office of Financial Management.
Oregon's attempts to force staff furloughs have, in some cases, been met with cost increases. An Oregonian report in March found that overtime at 24-hour agencies such as hospitals and prisons logged more overtime hours because of the reduction in staff.
"As the government's stimulus winds down and as long as the labor market remains weak, an acceleration in the economy is probably not in the cards," said David Huether, chief economist at the National Association of Manufacturers. "If I were a betting man, I'd bet the economy won't double dip into recession, but it will grow at a much slower pace."
Still, conditions did improve in most of the nation in May. Just under 40 percent of counties were deemed economically stressed in May, compared with 42 percent in April. Job gains in manufacturing, farming and hotels and restaurants helped some of the counties where stress declined the most, according to the AP's analysis.
According to researchers at the Oregon Center for Public Policy, if Congress fails to extend certain provisions of the Recovery Act, including unemployment benefits, health coverage assistance, and Medicaid, even more jobs could be lost
"Without more federal aid, state budget cuts nationwide could cost the economy 900,000 jobs in the public and private sectors," according to OCPP researchers.
Already, congressional Republicans have used filibusters to block the extension of unemployment insurance benefits beyond 6 months, saying that extending the benefits would discourage people from seeking work and add to the deficit.
From Staff and AP wire reports.