I don’t normally watch CBS’s “60 Minutes.” Last night I happened to stumble upon a sobering “60 Minutes” segment by correspondent Scott Pelley — “Unemployment Benefits: The 99ers.”
I can’t find the segment on YouTube, but I did find bits and pieces. Here’s a snippet from “60 Minutes”:
The 99ers refer to an estimated 1.5 millions Americans who have been on unemployment benefits for the maximum 99 weeks, the longest period of such benefits ever approved by Congress. Unless Congress approves another extension, which our nearly $14 trillion national/federal government debt can ill afford, these Americans will no longer even have their unemployment checks.
As a country we are now in uncharted waters. A college degree is no longer a guarantee that one will find a job, even less that the job is high-paying or even in a field for which one was trained. As many as 20% of our unemployed have college degrees. This was brought home in the “60 Minutes” segment.
Correspondent Pelley went to a Job Connections meeting of out-of-work Silicon Valley job seekers held in a church in Danville, California. The meeting occurs weekly — a combination of jobs fair and support group. The people there are in their 40s, 50s, and 60s who, as Pelley put it, “thought they’d done everything right: got a college degree, stayed with their company, and saved for retirement.” More than half of them had expected to retire from their company but now find themselves unemployed, some for over two years. Most of them had already cashed out their 401k’s, IRAs, and savings accounts. Every man and woman at the meeting has a college degree; a good number have a Master’s degree; several have Ph. D.s. All are at an age that makes them at once “too young to retire” but “too old to be rehired.”
There are heartbreaking personal stories:
- MaryAnn Rose, 54, a former financial analyst, has been unemployed for more than two years. She was reduced to living in a truck with her dog before her friends took her in to live in their attic room. Rose had thought her stay would be two weeks; she has been living in her friends’ house for six months…and counting.
- Judy Thompson, in tears, says she may lose her house that she’s had since 1982.
- Sara Hubert may lose her family business of 23 years.
- Jim Wyle has been job-seeking for two years. A former fiber optics engineer manager, Wyle has a part time job at Target, which pays him $9 an hour.
Here’s a video taken by someone who was at the Job Connections meeting. Footage of Pelley and the job seekers made it into the “60 Minutes” segment:
You can watch the entire segment on CBS’s website.