Long-term jobless give mixed reviews to Obama’s speech
You've heard what the pundits and expert analysts are saying about President Obama's jobs speech. But what about the real targets of the address: the long-term unemployed?
We asked Yahoo! readers who've recently been out of work for six months or more to tell us whether they heard anything last night that makes them more optimistic, or whether they saw the speech as more of the same. The verdict? We'd call it mixed.
Lisa W. was pleased. "I liked what the president said. It gave me hope," she told us. "Especially the part about the extension of unemployment benefits. Which I hope I don't have to use."
Lisa also gave high marks to the jobs training program that Obama announced. "I would work anywhere for more training," she wrote. "I'm not ashamed. It beats the heck out of sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring."
Another of the president's ideas appealed to James F. "Of particular interest to my situation were tax breaks for companies hiring those unemployed for more than 6 months (I'm getting close to 2 years)," he wrote.
And like Lisa, he appreciated the call for an extension of jobless benefits. "It's not easy to balance work, seemingly endless job hunting and managing finances," he added. "This would be a help."
Patricia D., meanwhile, responded positively to Obama's broader call to build the long-term foundations for sustained economic strength. "President Obama is right that we need to re-focus on making America the great nation that it once was," she wrote. "We need to keep our jobs here. We need to educate our children so they are smarter than kids in India or China. We need to tax the wealthy and corporations to ensure that this happens."
But other readers were less enthusiastic. Greg H. explained that the plan to give tax breaks to employers who hire the long-term jobless doesn't help him, because, as a contractor who has worked sporadically, he won't qualify.
"The president's speech had a lot of passion and fireworks," he told us, "but it left me feeling even more hopeless that I really don't fit into the profile of a person who might benefit from it."
Paula S. had a similar response. "After listening to the president's speech, I am no more hopeful than last week," she wrote. "Construction occupations and veteran hiring incentives will not benefit me personally."
Paula also suggested that the jobs training program may be of limited effectiveness. She said she had tried to take advantage of the Georgia program on which the president's idea is modeled. "I attempted to explain it to employers," she wrote. "How they could have me work for them up to 6 weeks while I continued to receive unemployment and then they could decide if I would be a fit for their business/company. They could actually put me on the payroll after receiving an extended free employee. I got no takers. The program was not well advertised or promoted."
Stefan K. said his major response to the speech was "disappointment."
"Nothing that he proposed had any permanence," Stefan wrote. "He demands that we throw good money after bad and in a year from now, when that money runs out, he will need to make another speech like this one."
Stefan said he would have preferred to see Obama "outline a detailed plan that would show how this stimulus would do better" than the previous one. And ideally, Obama also "would have spoken of restructuring the ways business/government is conducted in the U.S., [and] outlined plans on getting companies back on American soil."
"I was let down tonight. I think most of us were," he concluded. "What I got from tonight's speech was that we are on our own and must fend for ourselves!"
Meanwhile, Linda J., with an eye on the political realities, seemed to see the whole thing as futile. "How many times did he tell Congress they had to pass it?" she asked. "What is the likelihood of them passing it?