July 20, 2012

Unemployment Down... and That's Not Good

Justin Katz

From a Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training press release titled, "Unemployment Rate Drops to 10.9 Percent":

The RI Department of Labor and Training announced today that the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for June 2012 dropped to 10.9 percent, down one-tenth of a percentage point from the May 2012 rate. This represents the second consecutive monthly decrease in the unemployment rate and is the lowest RI rate since January 2012 (10.9%).

Things must be turning around, then... right? Not at all. A closer look at the month-to-month results, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, shows 430 fewer Rhode Islanders were working in June. The only reason the unemployment rate fell was that 1,589 fewer Rhode Islanders are even bothering to look for work. (Technically, 1,159 people fewer people were "unemployed," but the 430 who lost their jobs either went straight to "not looking" or were matched one-for-one with previously unemployed who gave up.)

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All hail disability - the new welfare for young and old, rich and poor, able-bodied and handicapped alike. Locate any doctor or chiropractor willing to sign a form and you too can live like a firefighter for the rest of your days.

Posted by: Dan at July 20, 2012 12:53 PM

Also, don't forget that a lot of people were on extended state or federal unemployment benefits, which for many people recently expired due to the caps on the number of weeks one might collect. So now, many still don't have jobs, plus they're not collecting unemployment either. So as you said, this isn't necessarily good news.

Posted by: bob at July 20, 2012 3:56 PM

Jobs down, taxes up, a GA filled with lemmings rushing for the cliff and an ignorant and/or apathetic public. Weep for us.

Posted by: Mike678 at July 21, 2012 6:58 AM

What's the matter, Dan, nobody in the sandbox, had to come here looking for friends?

Posted by: michael at July 21, 2012 9:01 AM

Michael - When people like you defend an 80% firefighter disability retirement rate in the 1990's, refuse to even look at COLA data when it is presented to you, and ban anyone from your own blog just for posting public-record data about an article topic you introduced, there is no room for reasoning anymore and these kinds of potshots and negativity are all that are left. Your contemptuous, superior personality is infectious that way. The moment you want the dialog to change, it will.

SSDI enrollment has more than doubled since 1999. The majority of the cases used to be life-threatening, medically verifiable physical conditions such as strokes, heart disease, and cancer. Now the majority of cases are impossible-to-verify conditions like anxiety disorders and muscoloskeletal pain. That is where the unemployment ranks are going, draining the public treasury and masking the extent of the "non-working" problem. I know you're aware of the mass-scale, $200-billion-a-year fraud of the system because you've written about it and you see it every day. You are quick to identify abuse and bad behavior outside of your band of brothers. But the moment anyone questions a firefighter disability award, even with the most damning evidence supporting them, you're at their throat. It's hypocrisy, plain and simple. You have integrity only when it is convenient to your job and circle of friends - which is really not integrity at all.

But we've been over all this before and you don't want to hear it.

Posted by: Dan at July 21, 2012 9:52 AM

"SSDI enrollment has more than doubled since 1999."

"SSDI" is the new "job". Look into the rash of military "Disability" claims too. The new saying is "in at 18, retired at 20".
Today America laughs at Greece, tomorrow the world laughs at America.

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at July 21, 2012 12:26 PM

Tommy - Same "stuff," different piles. Military, fire, police, or just unemployed and lazy; makes no difference in terms of tax dollars - fraud is fraud. Disability is just the newest and easiest ticket. People have been scamming the system ever since there was a system.

Posted by: Dan at July 21, 2012 1:21 PM

Pardon me while I not lump the military into this discussion since my retired brother-in-law just started treatment for PTSD from Nam 40 years later. Sorry to disappoint but he retired on a full pension from the Post Office. Then of course there is my buddy who was allowed to return to the states for his daughters christening while on his 3rd tour of Iraq. I was literally afraid for the guy. He was a nervous wreck. Totally out of his usual macho military self. I never served so I won't pretend to know what happens to these guys in war so I'll never challenge the legitimacy of any disability of someone that served in combat. Just to see two guys I've always looked up to in that condition is enough for me.

Posted by: Max D at July 21, 2012 9:22 PM

Posted by Dan:
"SSDI enrollment has more than doubled since 1999. The majority of the cases used to be life-threatening, medically verifiable physical conditions such as strokes, heart disease, and cancer."

A former relative worked in SSDI back to the early 80's. While standards seem to be looser now, they were never that strict. Denial statistics have always been a little difficult to determine because of the appeal process.

My memory is a little hazy, but the numbers worked something like this. About 80% of those applying were initially denied. About 80% of the denials appealed were allowed. So approval/denial rates are vastly different depending on the stage at which they are considered. As I recall the favorite reason for denying a disability was that the person could still "read blueprints".

I think there has been a loosening of standards, but the increase in benefits has created the surge.

It is also worth noting that the number of "recognized" psychiatric disorders has skyrocketed in recent years. The therapy industry is attempting to get "road rage" included in the PSDM.

A letter from a politician has always greatly increased your chances of receiving benefits. As far back as the 80's, your file was marked "PI" on receipt of a congressional "inquiry".

At least in the Boston office, there seemed to be a high rate of psyciatric disorder. I recall lots of stories of office employees takig fits, standing, sceaming and throwing things. That may just be federal employment of which I know little. There were a lot of politicians relatives there.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at July 21, 2012 9:54 PM

Max - That's the problem - nobody questions, everyone defers. Questions can have legitimate answers to them, but if nobody is asking, it's guaranteed to become a problem. "Trust but verify."

I'm not a psychiatrist, but I don't see how sitting around the house all day and getting government checks is better for PTSD than working some kind of job. An otherwise healthy person can quickly go nuts without a reason to wake up every day and other people relying on them for something.

Posted by: Dan at July 22, 2012 1:35 AM

"I'm not a psychiatrist, but I don't see how sitting around the house all day and getting government checks is better for PTSD than working some kind of job."

Of course every case has to be judged on it's own merits but here's a guy that was more active when he retired than when he was working. It was the sudden shutdown that caught everyone's attention and it's been down hill for him ever since. But I digress, that's not the point of this whole thread.

Posted by: Max D at July 22, 2012 4:03 PM
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