Unemployment in Massachusetts: What’s your Problem?

by Dave Atkins on May 9, 2009

in Advice to Unemployed

My posts on unemployment in Massachusetts have drawn commentary here and attention from the media and government. A producer from WBUR called me last week to set up a panel discussion on Friday where I will join an economist and the Commonwealth’s Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development, Suzanne Bump to talk about the situation in Massachusetts and respond to listeners who call in with questions. I’ve also been talking with a staffer at that agency, where they have started a blog about jobs and unemployment.

I would like to invite people to post questions here…to relate their experiences…to say things you would like me to think about while I’m on this radio show. I can’t answer specific personal detail questions, but it would help to be able to pass along the kind of real questions and stories that people have.

When I talked to Secretary Bump in person after the Town Hall Meeting, I learned a few things:

  • The reason initial claims are not online is due to the complexity and age of the existing system–which is being overhauled. Now, I still don’t understand why a simple web submission form could be deployed, but I did not get into all the details with her…
  • My situation is not typical. Many people have complicated claims where they did not work for the same employer all year or their employer disputes their eligibility, etc. The claims process is much more complicated for many than it was for me, so it is a mistake to assume everyone’s situation is simple.

Update: As I was writing this post, I noticed a tweet from my friend Rachel Levy, who was also interviewed by WBUR and quoted in a post just now. It does make me pause to ask myself why I am putting myself out there and whether I’m developing an unintentional brand as “celebrity unemployed.” Does this press help or hurt me?

I don’t know. What I do know is that dozens of people have contacted me about my blog posts and have asked me questions I’m not qualified to answer regarding benefits. I do know that I spent a lot of time and frustration on the phone and I believe there are ways to solve these problems. I am excited that my writing about these solutions has drawn the attention of the media and people in our state agencies who have the power and resources to do something about it. So I keep doing it. I feel like there are thousands of people who feel no one is listening to them and if I get the attention of somebody, I should make the most of it.


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