Long time without work
The Institute for Work and Technology examined the social situation of the unemployed and long-term unemployed and their families in North Rhine-Westphalia: the risks of "new poverty" and financial problems for those affected are increasing. High unemployment is increasingly becoming a risk factor for "new poverty". In 1995, just under 60 percent of the West German unemployed were able to earn their living mainly from wage replacement benefits such as unemployment benefits and unemployment assistance. Almost a quarter was dependent on the maintenance of relatives. Based on the number of household members, the unemployed households still had over 60 percent of the average income of all households in 1980; in 1994 they reached just under 52 percent. Unemployment is now the main reason for receiving social assistance. Since 1980, the number of unemployed households in West Germany has almost quadrupled and the number of households on welfare has more than doubled.
A study by the Labor and Technology Institute (IAT/Gelsenkirchen) "On the social situation of the unemployed and long-term unemployed and their families in North Rhine-Westphalia" came to these conclusions as part of the state social reporting of North Rhine-Westphalia. "Only those who have been in full-time employment for many years and have earned well have adequate financial security against the risk of unemployment for a certain period of time. The lower the previous income, the shorter the previous job and the longer the duration of unemployment, the fewer those affected are materially secured" put the IAT labor market researchers, IAT Vice President Prof. Dr. Gerhard Bosch and Dr. Alexandra Wagner, fixed.
Around a third of all registered unemployed have received neither unemployment benefits nor unemployment assistance for years. The long-term unemployed in particular have to accept severe financial losses, since after the one-year en titlement to unemployment benefit they only receive the lower unemployment benefit or, due to a lack of "neediness", not even this. In September 1995 only 21 percent of the long-term unemployed in North Rhine-Westphalia received unemployment benefits. More than a third of the long-term unemployed did not receive any benefits from unemployment insurance, women received fewer and significantly lower benefits than men. Young people who have not yet been able to acquire en titlement are either dependent on their parents for maintenance or on social assistance.
The income of unemployed households has fallen significantly in recent years. In addition to the reduced unemployment insurance benefit rates, the increasing long-term unemployment (because of the lower unemployment benefits and the means test that then takes place) could be a reason for this, the IAT labor market researchers suspect. Households with the long-term unemployed are financially worse off than households with the short-term unemployed.
The particularly problematic long-term unemployment is also underestimated in the statistics, the IAT study finds. As a special evaluation of the 1995 microcensus carried out by the IAT showed, people who had been unemployed for more than 12 months do not make up 38 percent of the unemployment rate in NRW - as shown in the official statistics for September 1995 - but at 51 percent already more than the Half. The reason for this is the official recording method, according to which unemployed people who only have a casual job for a few days or who are ill are excluded from the statistics, so that they are no longer considered unemployed and can therefore no longer register claims to unemployment insurance.
In this situation, labor market policy must act urgently. Long-term unemployment in particular has drastic consequences for the social situation and the chances on the labor market. The reintegration of the long-term unemployed into working life is becoming considerably more difficult and – due to the necessary requalification and socio-pedagogical support – also more expensive. "A preventive labor market policy should therefore start as early as possible and, if possible, not allow permanent exclusion from the labor market in the first place," demand the IAT labor market researchers.