Archive for category Technical
This weekend I discovered a remarkable resource – The Khan Academy – a free site with over 800 videos and a learning tool that is designed to help students learn the more challenging subjects such as calculus etc.
In addition to all the academic material – Sal Khan – who runs a hedge fund in his spare time! – Has put together the best explanation of how this credit bubble happened. Once you see how it happened, you can start to get a feel for where we are now and what in the end has to be done.
In an earlier life I was SVP HR for a large bank – ouch! I only say this because I do know a bit about how HR works. So with that as context, here is a simply outstanding tip sheet on how to get the most out of a resume offered by KERA from one of their partners – Jewish Family Services
One trend is now clear – that unemployment is the most important driver for foreclosure. So what do the unemployment numbers mean? As this report by KERA tells us – they are not truly representative of what is going on and they can seriously understate what is going on:
Many people assume that the government only uses the number of persons filing for Unemployment Insurance benefits (UI) through state or federal government programs as their source.
Because many people aren’t eligible for UI or have already exhausted their benefits, that wouldn’t give us a real picture of the number of unemployed people.
Other people believe that the government actually counts the number of all unemployed people each month –an undertaking that would require the level of work done by the U.S. Census every ten years.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics uses a monthly survey called the Current Population Survey to measure unemployment across the country. It has been conducted in the U.S. every month since 1940, and is one of the oldest continuous monthly sample surveys of households in the world.
There are about 60,000 households in the sample, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. and each month, a quarter of the households in the sample are changed so that none are interviewed more than four consecutive months. Surveyed individuals are interviewed and the data is compiled electronically so it can be adjusted to independent population estimates.
The survey relies on three basic concepts of employment and unemployment:
- Individuals with jobs are counted as employed.
- Individuals who are jobless, looking for a job, and available for work are unemployed.
- Individuals who are neither employed nor unemployed are not counted in the labor force. People who are under 16 or in the Armed Forces are also not counted.
These definitions aren’t as simple as they may sound. People are considered employed if they did any work for pay during the survey week. An 18-year-old student who baby-sits for 6 hours a week would be counted as employed, just as her mother who might work 40 hours per week.
People are classified as unemployed if they don’t have a job, are actively looking for work, and are currently available for work. If they are in training or educational activities, they are not counted as either employed or unemployed.
People who aren’t working but are physically unable to job aren’t counted in either category. Other examples of people not considered in the labor force would be persons confined to institutions such as prisons, jails, or hospitals.
As you might expect, there is much work that is done outside these simple definitions. The BLS keeps data on persons who would be counted as “marginally attached to the labor force” but not counted as either employed or unemployed.
“Discouraged workers” are a subset of this group. Many of these individuals are the people our community partners see every day. They don’t believe there is a job available for them and that they lack the skills necessary to find employment. The BLS keeps numbers on these individuals as well, but doesn’t count them in the official numbers.
The major producers in Public Radio and TV are the best source for understanding our financial predicament. The challenge for your local audience is finding the good stuff.
You can help by scanning the system for material that will work for you and for your audience and adding it to the FTMC website – for you now have a piece of free and dedicated real estate to create a centre for financial information for your community.
Here is an example of the kind of material – This from Marketplace:
The following checklist outlines the documentation a mortgage servicer will require from a borrower for foreclosure assistance. The Colorado Foreclosure Hotline refers to these documents as the Loss Mitigation Packet checklist. (Thanks Rocky Mountain PBS)
1. Hardship Letter (Download PDF template now)
a. What has caused your loan to default
b. What you’re asking the mortgage company to do
c. Should be signed and dated
d. Loan number on top of all pages
2. Financial Worksheet
a. Your monthly income vs. your monthly expenses
b. Should be signed and dated
c. Loan number on top of all pages
3. Pay Stubs or Proof of Income
a. Two months worth
b. Loan number on top of all pages
4. Bank Statements
a. Two months worth of all accounts
b. Loan number on top of all pages
5. Tax Return Forms including W2
a. Two years worth
b. Loan number on top of all pages
Contact a housing counselor with any questions and/or to review your loss mitigation
packet prior to faxing documents to your mortgage company.
Verify receipt of loss mitigation packet by calling your mortgage company three business days after faxing your packet.
Many of us are finding that we can expand our audience for our Town Hall meetings by reposting the show on You Tube. Here WXEL’s YouTube Channel as an example.
This is a great start but with a little editing you can make the 1 hour shows timeless and much easier to watch – for few have an hour to spend. Most have a specific question that they want an answer for.
At KETC we have also “Mined” our Town Hall shows. We look in the hour long content for pieces that deal with a specific question – one that a person may search for using Google – and cut up the show into micro chunks to meet this need to have an expert answer one item. This has worked very well and we are seeing a steady build in traffic as the months roll by.
Here is a link to our FAQ YouTube Channel that has 31 Specific Questions. Here is an example:
You can also see what questions affect people the most – the Video on Default Notices has over 370 views – so merely looking at how people respond gives you a clear indication of what worries them the most
A point that keeps getting made as we do new things for the project, we learn things that will help in our larger work.
Last night we had our live Town Hall meeting. A link to the video on our site: (WGTE – Toledo)
It was a great success, with tons of calls (still being counted) and lots and lots of live studio audience questions for our panel. This was also the first major project for which we have provided a live video stream online.
We had 25 people watch the entire program online. Once they started viewing the stream, they didn’t leave until the end. This is great news for our ablility to use the web as a viewing platform in the future for live material. Up to now, we have only presented pre-recorded material online. (Darren LaShelle)
Here is a more general comment from Susan Grissom in Memphis that may apply to many:
Using the internet and social media to reach new listeners and viewers is still relatively new to our team. This project has been great learning tool for us, and we’ll continue to refine our approach and methods to increase our exposure.
All stations have web sites – but these are mostly a collection of “banners” and schedule notices. They are not what we all know we have to move to – a place where we interact with our audience.
As we work to find our way in this project, some are finding that they have inadvertently created this new relationship by setting up a focused piece of web real estate – the site for the project. here is how Michigan Radio and Detroit Public TV have seen things on their site:
Michigan Radio & Detroit Public TV’s mortgage crisis website, FacingTheMortgageCrisis.org, has had 4291 visits. On July 16 when Michigan Radio had a call-in show the site had its busiest single day with 473 unique visitors that day. We’ve had about 25 listener comments on our web and social networking sites devoted to the project.
We’ve had a huge range of comments. We’ve heard from a number of people who have had health issues that are causing them to miss house payments or end up in foreclosure. We’ve heard from quite a few individuals who have lost jobs and are trying to be proactive because they know they are not going to be able to keep making their mortgage payments, but are finding that lenders are not willing to work with them in a meaningful way. We’ve used these two types of comments as the basis of on-air radio interviews.
We’ve heard from people looking for help for themselves and for friends. We’ve also heard from credit unions and government officials who contact us to help get the word out about their services. My favorite comment is the following one that was posted MichiganRadio.org after a story about scams aired…
“Thanks to this article and listening to it on the radio, my husband and I cancelled the appointment we had with Federal Loan Modification 20 minutes before the “counselor” was to show up at our house. Thank you very much.”
But, we’ve also heard from a small number of Michigan Radio listeners who think we are spending too much time on this story or aren’t reporting on how the situation is the fault of uninformed consumers or that we should be spending this much time on other stories. (Tamar Charney)
Solving the issue of how to make the web work for us is central to our future – more on this topic over time as more emerges.
Here is a good example of the kind of Interstitial used to help promote the help on offer.
When we experimented with all of this for the first time in St Louis last year – we decided to run a lot of Interstitials during our Kids programming. Why?
Because we reach a much wider audience there – who don’t usually watch our traditional evening programming.
As I write this, I am baby sitting my grand daughter. Keeping her busy while I work is a real challenge. Remember – for every child that watches Sesame Street, there is an adult there too. Often an adult who is deeply involved in the mortgage crisis.
We had great response to this unusual placement. Please give this a whirl.