The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, May 20, 2011

NEWS BRIEFS

By The Building Tradesman



EPI rips GOP plan to shift jobless money

Washington (PAI) – A Republican plan to turn unemployment benefits into a block grant that states could use as they wish could cost workers jobs, the Economic Policy Institute says.

The GOP scheme, unveiled May 6, would let the states use the jobless benefit money for a variety of purposes, including paying back the sums they borrowed from the federal Unemployment Trust Fund during and since the Great Recession.

In turn for that flexibility, the sum the feds would send to the states for jobless benefits would be capped – and subject to congressional appropriations every year.

EPI senior economists Ross Eisenbrey and Heidi Shierholz found multiple problems with the Republicans’ plan, which the GOP-run House has yet to act upon. But sponsors are pushing for quick approval, for state and federal budget reasons.

Current unemployment law, including the two years’ worth of extended benefits Congress approved in December 2010, will cost an estimated $32 billion from this July through next July, EPI says. The block grant would be $1 billion less.

More importantly, they said, it would let the states end payment of extended jobless benefits – taking $40 billion out of the pockets of both the jobless and of firms whose goods and services they buy. “Putting cash in the hands of unemployed workers generates more economic activity than any other option,” Eisenbrey and Shierholz wrote in their issue brief on the GOP scheme. Extending aid to the jobless “results in more consumption of goods and services produced by private-sector businesses, generating more economic activity by their suppliers and contractors.”

Alternative uses for the money would produce fewer jobs or none at all:

  • If a state uses unemployment block grant money to repay the feds for jobless funds it borrowed, there would be no new jobs created. That would also happen if the state dumped the federal block grant money into its state unemployment trust fund, replacing state money, but didn’t spend it. With no change in that state’s trust fund and no change in its jobless benefits, there’s no economic spinoff creating new jobs.
  • But if the state used the federal money to pay workers’ jobless benefits, while giving employers a break from their unemployment tax payments, there would be a positive impact, creating 198,000 jobs nationwide if all states did that. If the states used the federal money for job search services, 186,000 jobs nationwide would be created.

More protests at PulteGroup

Seven people were arrested in Romulus on May 11 after they sat in a street to stop a bus they believed was carrying PulteGroup directors and executives, who were headed to their annual meeting at an airport hotel.

They were among the peaceful demonstrators protesting PulteGroup’s acceptance of $880 million in tax cuts. Instead, the AFL-CIO says, the money came to Pulte thanks to the Worker, Homeownership and Business Assistance Act of 2009. This Act was intended to create jobs and extend benefits to the unemployed. Instead, PulteGroup is spending the cash on debt buy-downs and land, while increasing the ranks of the unemployed by laying off employees.

“I believe Pulte’s acceptance of $880 million taxpayer dollars is unethical and should be illegal,” said Rev. Charles Williams II. “And if it takes me getting in their way of business as usual to make the Board of Directors do the right thing, then I’m willing to do that. We’re calling on Pulte shareholders and our federal legislators to make Pulte do the right thing – use the money to create jobs, or give it back.”

Some 200 union members, community activists and other allies remained outside the Detroit Metro Marriott Hotel, holding signs demanding answers and chanting: “Where are the jobs? Where is the money?”

The Sheet Metal Workers and Painters and Allied Trades International Unions have joined the AFL-CIO in following PulteGroup executives across the country. Bloomfield Hills-based PulteGroup is one of the nation’s largest home-building companies. (The AFL-CIO contributed).

  • If a state uses unemployment block grant money to repay the feds for jobless funds it borrowed, there would be no new jobs created. That would also happen if the state dumped the federal block grant money into its state unemployment trust fund, replacing state money, but didn’t spend it. With no change in that state’s trust fund and no change in its jobless benefits, there’s no economic spinoff creating new jobs.
  • But if the state used the federal money to pay workers’ jobless benefits, while giving employers a break from their unemployment tax payments, there would be a positive impact, creating 198,000 jobs nationwide if all states did that. If the states used the federal money for job search services, 186,000 jobs nationwide would be created.
More protests at PulteGroup Seven people were arrested in Romulus on May 11 after they sat in a street to stop a bus they believed was carrying PulteGroup directors and executives, who were headed to their annual meeting at an airport hotel. They were among the peaceful demonstrators protesting PulteGroup’s acceptance of $880 million in tax cuts. Instead, the AFL-CIO says, the money came to Pulte thanks to the Worker, Homeownership and Business Assistance Act of 2009. This Act was intended to create jobs and extend benefits to the unemployed. Instead, PulteGroup is spending the cash on debt buy-downs and land, while increasing the ranks of the unemployed by laying off employees. “I believe Pulte’s acceptance of $880 million taxpayer dollars is unethical and should be illegal,” said Rev. Charles Williams II. “And if it takes me getting in their way of business as usual to make the Board of Directors do the right thing, then I’m willing to do that. We’re calling on Pulte shareholders and our federal legislators to make Pulte do the right thing – use the money to create jobs, or give it back.” Some 200 union members, community activists and other allies remained outside the Detroit Metro Marriott Hotel, holding signs demanding answers and chanting: “Where are the jobs? Where is the money?” The Sheet Metal Workers and Painters and Allied Trades International Unions have joined the AFL-CIO in following PulteGroup executives across the country. Bloomfield Hills-based PulteGroup is one of the nation’s largest home-building companies. (The AFL-CIO contributed).