Unemployment benefits up for renewal
The year 2012 is bringing with it many different things: a presidential election, the release of The Hobbit movies, the 2012 Olympics and, according to the Mayan calendar, the end of the world. However, as exciting as all of those are, the new year could also be bringing in many changes in terms of politics and benefits.
As soon as the new year begins, Congress will decide whether or not to renew unemployment benefits. According to the Oregon Employment Department, these possible cuts could cause the number of jobless Oregonians to grow exponentially.
Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives recently introduced a bill that would extend federally funded unemployment benefits for another year. While Congress has not voted against passing an extension on unemployment benefits, this particular bill comes with a $45 billion price tag attached.
While federal and state debt need to be taken into account when deciding whether to pass such a bill, Oregon’s unemployment rate should also be taken into consideration. Currently, that rate is fixed at just over 9 percent and has exceeded the national unemployment rate for the last fifteen years.
The current extension will last through Dec. 31 of this year, and if it gets renewed it becomes a double-edged sword. Yes, those unemployed and looking for work will have their benefits, but the state Employment Department has predicted that people will exhaust their benefits by the end of 2012, so they would be in the same position as they are currently.
Congress is still worrying about extending unemployment rates while still cutting down federal spending. In February of this year, Senate Bill 638 was introduced into the Oregon Senate and House of Representatives and passed into effect by the next month.
Bill 638 allows the Oregon employment offices to add an additional six weeks of benefits to those out of work since 2008 which gives a combined extension of about six months. “That gives a bit more breathing room for the economy to continue its recovery and people to pin down a job,” said Senate Majority Leader Diane Rosenbaum in an article published on OregonLive.com.
Rosenbaum, a Portland Democrat, teamed up with Sen. Brian Boquist, a Republican from Dallas, to sponsor the bill that was created to extend unemployment benefits for those who need them.
Even though Oregon’s unemployed are already given up to 99 weeks of unemployment benefits, for some it’s just not enough and more is necessary in order to support not only themselves, but their families as well.
Unemployment is something that affects a great number of people, as proven by our state’s current unemployment rate. It is also something that affects students.
Many PSU students are currently unemployed, whether by personal choice or for economic reasons. While some students choose not to work while in school in order to concentrate on their academic studies, others aren’t so lucky. Some students have to work in order to stay in school, and while that may compromise their academic performance it does allow some financial security.
“Most full-time students aren’t eligible for unemployment benefits,” said Greg Flores, the interim director at the Portland State Career Center, “but we’ll occasionally help students with their plans for the future in terms of finances.”
Flores’ words ring true; when you apply for unemployment benefits, you have to specify whether or not you’re willing to drop or miss class if you get an opportunity for employment. This does give those truly dedicated to finding employment a leg up on the job competition, but what about the students who need to work to stay in school?
Many college students base their area of study off of how likely finding a job after graduation will be. This practice offers students a sense of both academic and financial security.
“I’m studying pre-med to be a pediatrician,” said Jenny Pham, a freshman. “So many people want to be pediatricians. Everyone loves kids, so there’s a lot of competition.”
Competition in the post-bachelor job market is intense and keeps many students from majoring in subjects they are really interested in (visual arts, English, etc.), but Flores had some advice for those worried about their financial future after graduating college. “Students who complete an internship before graduation are more likely to be hired within the first six months of graduating college,” Flores said.
Sam Allen, a junior double-majoring in pre-med and political science, isn’t so worried about finding a job after college. “Both majors completely set me up for continuing education after my initial bachelor degree,” Allen said. “Pre-med allows me to apply to medical school and study to be a chiropractor, surgeon or other medical position, while political science is a good area of study if I decided I’d rather take the law school route. I could also be eligible for a job in education or a governmental position with political science.”
While Allen seems to have his academic and financial future all planned out (even though technically, pre-professional studies such as pre-med are not majors) other students should be conscious of their own plans as well. While the economic climate shouldn’t compromise your choice of college major, it should definitely give you an idea of how hard you need to work in order to be above the competition. Standards are always getting higher and for most professions, Masters and graduate studies have become necessary.
Students worried about their jobs after college should relax a little, do well in school, and be thankful that they aren’t members of Congress in charge of deciding whether or not unemployment benefits need to be renewed for the next year.