September House Meeting Packet by astrass

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									                                                                September House Meeting
                                                                            Host Packet

       “How Bad is this Jobs Crisis
      and Why Does Unemployment
         Insurance (UI) Matter?”
(please print enough copies for participants to have their own or share with a partner)

   Welcome & Agenda for Participants                                                        p. 2

   The Jobs Crisis and Unemployment                                                         p. 3
          This 1-pager provides facts and numbers on who is unemployed in America

   Map of Unemployment Rates Across the USA                                                 p. 4
          This map shows how unemployment is affecting states / regions differently

   The Unemployment Insurance Program                                                       p. 5
          This 2-pager gives background on the UI system and the upcoming debate in
           Congress over extended benefits for people who can’t find jobs

   Standing Up With the Unemployed                                                          p. 7
          This 2-pager offers advice on how to talk about the importance of UI


   Detailed Agenda for Hosts                                                                p. 9
          Print two copies (for Host and Timekeeper)

   Sign-In Sheet                                                                            p. 11
          Print enough copies so that each participant can sign in; five people fill one
          To help build the movement and connect your participants to Change Nation,
           please send us completed Sign-In Sheets / contact information
           via email ( or fax (202-387-4892)

   House Meeting Report Form                                                                p. 12
          Please send the report on your house meeting to Change Nation via email
           ( or fax (202-387-4892), or fill out the online
           report at

    Questions or Concerns? Please email
                 Welcome & Agenda for Participants

Thank you so much for coming to this house meeting and taking the time to join with people in
your community to share, learn and take action together. Creating an economy that helps
people survive when jobs disappear, starts with your house meeting, right now!

This house meeting asks: “How Bad is this Jobs Crisis and Why Does Unemployment Insurance

Right now millions of people are struggling to find jobs, pay their bills and provide economic
stability for their families. So we hope that this conversation will help you understand the jobs
crisis and UI system, and prepare you for the debate on the future of unemployment
insurance and what kind of support our country should give people until the economy gets back
on track.

                                    House Meeting Agenda

   1. Welcome and Round of Introductions

   2. Stories and Reflections about the Jobs Crisis
      You’ll share your own stories and stories you’ve heard about how hard today’s job
      market is and reflect on some of the numbers that tell part of the story of today’s crisis.

   3. How Unemployment Insurance Works and Why It Matters
      You’ll share what you know about the UI system and learn about the debates in
      Congress about whether to help people who are unemployed.

   4. Standing Up with the Unemployed
      You’ll discuss how to support unemployed people during the debate in Congress about
      whether to extend unemployment benefits.

   5. Next Steps
      You’ll talk about next steps to take together, how you can continue to support each
      other, and build the movement.

                                 The Jobs Crisis in Numbers
The government’s official unemployment rate is based on a survey the Department of Labor
does each month. It classifies people as unemployed if they do not have a job and looked for
work in the prior 4 weeks, whether or not they receive Unemployment Insurance (UI). Because
of the very narrow definition, the official
unemployment rate is artificially low.
                                                                       Official Number Unemployed                   13,967,000
That’s why the government created an                                   Official Unemployment Rate                      9.1%
alternative rate – called the U-6 – that tracks
the officially unemployed plus others who are      U-6 Unemployment Rate           16.2%
struggling, like part-time workers who want
full-time jobs and people who don’t have jobs      De-Facto Unemployment Rate      29.2%
but didn’t look for work in the last month.
Also, the Center for Working Class Studies
calculates a “de-facto unemployment rate” that also includes people who are taken out of the
workforce because of prison time and other factors, because if there were more job
opportunities poor people would have better paths to choose from.

It’s important to understand the limitations of all of these measures of economic hardship –
numbers can only tell part of the story. The real story can only be told by the people who are
struggling in the midst of the worst economic situation since the Great Depression.

Part of the real story is that unemployment doesn’t impact all communities to the same extent.
Some major groups of people are much more likely to have a hard time finding a job, even
when the economy is strong, so during recessions like this one, those communities are hit even
harder by joblessness. See the numbers below for more information on how unemployment
impacts people differently.

                                    Rate        Number                                                         Rate          Number
White Unemployment                 8.0%        9,932,000               Black Unemployment                     16.7%         2,989,000
 White Men                         7.7%        4,997,000                 Black Men                            18.0%         1,469,000
 White Women                       7.0%        3,828,000                 Black Women                          13.4%         1,230,000
 White Teens                       23.0%       1,106,000                 Black Teens                          46.5%           291,000

                                    Rate        Number                 Unemployment by Educational Level
Latino Unemployment                11.3%       2,585,000                                          Rate                       Number
  Latino Men                       8.9%        1,169,000               Less than H.S. Diploma    14.3%                      1,663,000
  Latino Women                     11.4%       1,015,000               H.S. Graduate, no college 9.6%                       3,531,000
  Latino Teens                     37.4%         378,000               Some College              8.2%                       3,038,000
                                                                       College Grad or Higher    23.0%                      1,106,000

       All of the numbers above are from August, 2011 (the most recent data available).
      Center for Working-Class Studies, Youngstown State University,

Unemployment Rates Across the USA
                The Unemployment Insurance Program
The Basics:

       Unemployment Insurance was created in response to the Great Depression to alleviate the
        suffering caused by widespread unemployment. Not since the Great Depression have so many
        people been unemployed for so long. About 6.2 million Americans, 45.1 percent of all
        unemployed workers in this country, have been jobless for more than six months – the highest
        rate since the Great Depression.1

       The idea of unemployment insurance is to help workers make ends meet when businesses lay
        off workers because of an economic downturn or a reduction in demand for goods or services.
        The UI system replaces a portion of the lost wages of laid-off workers. This helps unemployed
        people continue to pay for basic necessities and bills and also helps the larger economy through
        the continued spending of laid-off workers. Basic benefits are funded by payroll taxes paid by

How It Works:

       Unemployment Insurance provides unemployment benefits to workers who lose their jobs
        through no fault of their own. The basic Unemployment Insurance program typically provides
        up to 26 weeks of benefits and the average unemployment benefit was only $300 per week in
        early 2010. State laws typically determine weekly benefit amounts (ranging from maximums of
        $235 in MS to $629 in MA) and eligibility requirements (such as how long someone needs to
        have worked to qualify).

       In response to recessions, Congress has typically provided additional weeks of unemployment
        compensation through federal emergency programs. Providing additional weeks of
        unemployment compensation is critical for both individuals and the economy, since during
        recessions workers are unemployed for longer time periods, and providing unemployed workers
        with UI benefits helps to keep money in local communities, create demand for goods and
        services and ultimately create jobs.

       In addition to the regular UI program, there is an extended benefit program that provides
        additional weeks of unemployment compensation to workers who have exhausted regular
        benefits in states with high unemployment levels.

       During this recession, Congress created the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation
        program (EUC), which provides federal funding to pay for additional weeks of benefits for
        workers who have exhausted basic UI benefits and any additional weeks offered through the
        Extended Benefit program. The number of weeks of UI varies from state to state depending on
        unemployment levels, but the maximum number of weeks of UI provided through a
        combination of the regular state UI program, the Extended Benefit program and maximum
        amount of EUC is 99 weeks. However, less than half of the states currently provide 99 weeks of
        unemployment benefits through these programs.2

 National Employment Law Project. Overview of Unemployment Insurance Federal Extensions: Federal Relief for
Newly-Laid Off Workers to Expire Withouth Congressional Reauthorization. July 7, 2011.
                                        The Unemployment Insurance Program (continued)
Laid-Off Workers Still Need Extended Benefits:

       The federal unemployment insurance programs provide a lifeline to unemployed workers but
        it is set to expire at the end of this year. With the official unemployment rate still over 9%, this
        would be a disaster. Congress has never allowed an emergency unemployment program to
        end when the unemployment rate is higher than 7.2 percent.

       The number of long-term unemployed individuals (those who have been unemployed for 27
        weeks and over) was 6 million in August, or 42.9% of the 14 million people in America who are
        counted as part of the official unemployment rate.3 If Congress fails to extend the federal
        emergency unemployment insurance programs, millions of people will suffer.

       Failing to extend the EUC program will also negatively impact our economy. When
        unemployed workers receive unemployment insurance, they go out and spend that money in
        their local communities; when they go to the grocery store, out to eat, or to purchase local
        goods and services. This spending creates jobs. When people do not spend money in their local
        communities because they don’t have it, it leads to more job loss, and will only make the current
        recession worse. Extending the EUC program, which will help spur consumer demand, is exactly
        what we need to get our economy back on track. Congress should renew it, at a projected cost
        of $45 billion, which would create 528,000 jobs in 2012. 4

       To check out a video about how UI helps the economy, see:

    Reports and Statistics on State UI programs:
    Information about UI programs from the Federal Government:
    National Employment Law Project:
    Center for American Progress:
    Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Introduction to Unemployment Insurance:

  US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Situation Summary, September 2, 2011.
  Fieldhouse, Andrew and Ethan Pollack. 2011. “Debt Ceiling Deal Threatens Jobs, Economic Growth.” Issue Brief
#311.Washington, D.C.: Economic Policy Institute.

                    Standing Up With the Unemployed
This fall, Congress will debate whether or not to extend the Emergency Unemployment Compensation
(EUC) program, which provides federal funding to pay for additional weeks of benefits for workers who
have used up the maximum number of weeks of regular UI.

During recent debates on unemployment insurance, some politicians have had some pretty outrageous
things to say about the UI system and people who are unemployed:
     Unemployment insurance "doesn't create new jobs. In fact, if anything, continuing to pay people
        unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work"
                                                 -- John Kyl, U.S. Senator from Arizona, March 2010
       "Ultimately we do have to sometimes accept a wage that's less than we had at our previous job
        in order to get back to work and allow the economy to get started again."
                                                 -- Rand Paul, U.S. Senator from Kentucky, June 2010

These conservative myths and misinformation often get repeated in the media and by our friends and
family, so when the debate heats up, be ready to defend the Unemployment Insurance system and
people who are struggling in this weak economy.

Remind people of these key facts about unemployment insurance:
    Unemployment insurance benefits kept 3.2 million people out of poverty in 2010.7
    Studies estimate anywhere between 4 and 9 job seekers for each job opening.8
    UI benefits cover only a portion of someone’s lost wages – usually less than half of what they
       earned. Last year, the average UI benefit was only $300 per week, and the range of maximum
       benefits was between a low of $235 (in MS) and high of $629 (in MA).9
    Studies show that every $1.00 the government spends on unemployment insurance leads to
       anywhere between $1.61 and $2.10 in economic activity.10
    If Congress were to reject an extension of unemployment benefits for many laid-off workers
       receiving benefits now, this could take up to $70 billion out of the economy (and this could
       mean up to 528,000 more lost jobs).11

A great way to structure your responses to conservative myths is to:
    1. Start with values – appeal to universal, human values so the person you’re talking to starts
        thinking about real people, instead of just numbers and dollar-signs.
    2. Reframe the problem – there are often competing views of what the problem is so be clear
        about how you see what’s wrong, and make sure it connects to your values.
    3. Offer a positive solution – explain what you think should happen to fix the problem, that way
        you can invite them to join you in the fight for the solution.

7 (see page 22)
8 &
                                            Standing Up With the Unemployed (continued)
  This matrix shows you how to use the “value, problem, solution” messaging model to develop your own
  responses to conservative myths and lies about the UI system.

  People who oppose extending unemployment benefits, or who make harsh comments about the
  unemployed are often just repeating things they’ve heard in the media. So if you can reframe the issue
  for them, they often come around or at least re-consider their views.

                       Example 1                            Example 2                           Example 3
           In America we take care of each      In today’s economy, it’s never      This recession was caused by
           other, so we don’t let our           been clearer that we’re all         extreme inequality and

           neighbors’ lives fall apart when     connected. We need economic         unethical business practices.
           they get laid off.                   policies that recognize and         We need an economy that
                                                honor our interdependence.          works for everyone, not just
           Losing a job creates a lot of        When someone is laid-off, it        Unfortunately, the economy
           instability for an individual, and   doesn’t just affect their family,   has created a lot of losers and
           their family. Forcing someone        it affects the whole community.     only a few winners. Right now

           to uproot themselves and their       When people can’t pay their         there are millions who are still
           family to take any job anywhere      mortgage, it lowers property        looking for work. And even
           is not how we treat people in a      values for everyone. When           though many companies are
           humane society.                      people can’t afford to buy          raking in huge profits, they still
                                                things, it reduces demand and       aren’t hiring.
                                                leads to more lay-offs.
           Extending unemployment               One way to BOTH keep the            It doesn’t help our economy to
           benefits helps people make           economy moving and help             force every unemployed worker

           ends meet while they find a job      struggling people is to extend      to take a low-paying job with no
           that matches their skills, talents   unemployment benefits. It           benefits, it just helps
           and interests.                       helps people pay their bills and    corporations rake in more
                                                inject money into local             profits on the backs of workers.

                             Detailed Agenda for Hosts
                     This detailed agenda is only for the Host and Timekeeper.

1. Welcome and Round of Introductions                                                              15 minutes

      Welcome everyone and quick round of introductions.                                           (5 min.)
           o    Ask everyone to say their name and how many people they know who are
                looking for jobs today.
                (As host, you should go first and model keeping it concise and making the
                image vivid, like “Welcome everyone! My name is ________, and I’m
                unemployed and so are five of my closest friends and family.”)

      Review agenda, agree on meeting norms and explain the timekeeper’s role.                     (10 min.)
           o    The agenda has only four more steps and is designed for us to finish within 90
           o    Some meeting norms to propose could be:
                     Confidentiality (this is important to ensure full sharing)
                     Respect (people should be able to express differing opinions)
                     Exploration Approach (want to learn and explore together)
           o    Agree on a signal for cutting people off if they dominate or speak for too long.

2. Stories and Reflections About the Jobs Crisis                                                   25 minutes

      Discuss the impact of joblessness on people in your community.                               (10 min.)
       Goal: Ground the house meeting in the real stories and suffering in your community.

       Possible Questions to ask:
           o If you, or your friends or relatives have been unemployed during this recession,
                what are you/they going through?
           o How are unemployed people surviving (paying bills, making ends meet, etc.)?

      Review the Handout and Maps on the Jobs Crisis and Unemployment.                             (5 min.)
       Give people time to quickly review the documents.

      Discuss how and why unemployment affects large groups differently.                           (10 min.)
       Goal: Explore how major social and systemic patterns contribute to this jobs crisis.

       Possible questions to ask:
           o What surprises you about how the unemployment rate is calculated?
           o Are the differences in unemployment rates across groups surprising or just a
                normal fact of life? Why is this the case?
           o How does your state’s unemployment rate compare to other states?
           o What disparities and other factors might be hidden in your state’s
                unemployment number?

3. How Unemployment Insurance Works and Why It Matters                                            20 minutes

      Review the 2-Pager on the UI System.                                                        (5 min.)
       Give people time to quickly review the document.

      Discuss the UI System.                                                                      (15 min.)
       Goal: Explore what people believe and understand about the UI system and why it is so
       important to extend unemployment benefits for people who are still unemployed.

       Possible questions to ask:
           o What struck you about the way the UI system works?
           o Do you think the effort to extend the federal unemployment insurance
                programs will go smoothly this fall? Why or why not?
           o If Congress refuses to extend the EUC program, what impact would that have
                on your community? On the country? On the economy?

4. Standing Up with the Unemployed                                                                20 minutes

      Review the 2-Pager on “Standing Up with the Unemployed” during the debate                    (5 min.)
       over extending the federal unemployment insurance programs.

      Discuss the politics of extending unemployment benefits and brainstorm local                (15 min.)
       actions to take.
       Goal: Build commitment among house meeting participants about what WE CAN DO
       NOW to fight for supports for laid-off workers and an economy that works for all of us.

       Possible questions to ask:
           o What are the values that lead some politicians to say uncaring things about
                unemployed people? How do your values differ?
           o What position do the people who represent you in the Senate and House of
                Representatives take on extending federal unemployment insurance programs?
                If you don’t know, how can you find out?
           o What could your group do to show support for the unemployed and let your
                elected representatives know that you want extended benefits to continue?

5. Next Steps: Continuing to Build Our Movement                                                   10 minutes

      Set a date for the next meeting (roughly the same time next month). Open up                  (5 min.)
       the option for someone else to host next time. Invite people to bring a friend
       next time.

      Discuss what to do/explore/learn before the next meeting.                                    (5 min.)

       Possible things to propose:
           o UI systems differ dramatically from state to state. Do people want to learn more
                about how the UI system works in your state? Go to the website below to
                review reports and statistics on UI in each state.
           o   What ideas for action from the last discussion about the federal UI programs do
               we want to try out?
           o   How can we practice developing messages to support laid-off workers? Maybe
               people want to write letters to the editor, comment on news stories, or call-in
               to radio shows.

                                       Check-In Sheet
  Organization (if any):
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  Organization (if any):
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  Organization (if any):
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Send to Change Nation – Web: Email: Fax: 202-387-4892

                          House Meeting Report Form

Meeting Date:                                            Meeting Topic:

Meeting Location:

Host Name:                                               Email:

How many people came?               How long was the meeting?             When is your next meeting?

Would you be willing to speak with Change Nation staff to provide more                     Yes / No

Overall, how did the meeting go?
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Did people develop or deepen their relationships with each other?
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