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Welcome to the #HERVotes Blog Carnival, this time focused on the need to extend unemployment insurance. Why? One reason is that far too many children in our nation (nearly 1 in 4) live in families who are struggling to put food on the table because of poverty.

And for them, this holiday season will be a tough one.

So now is certainly not the time to throw even more families into poverty. But that is what will happen in just a few short weeks if Congress doesn't act. The clock is ticking for millions of American families desperately looking for jobs who will lose unemployment insurance on December 31st, right after Christmas.

Families like Karoline's, who writes:

"My husband lost his job in July. He is college-educated with 10 years of experience in the engineering field. He should be able to find another job. Unfortunately, although he has had several interviews, he has been unable to find full-time work."

And families like Teresa's:

"I lost my job of over 20 years in retail I went back to school and earned a Bachelor's degree but I still can't find a job--help!"

There are 1.8 million families hanging on the edge waiting for Congress to act as the clock ticks down for those who want to work, but can't find jobs.

Waiting.

Let me just state the obvious: We can do better. Our nation's priorities are out of whack. The true measure of our success is whether families like Karoline's and Teresa's can make it - not just only whether corporations have record profits. It's critical that both businesses and families can thrive in our nation. Yet we are out of balance.

There's more wealth in our country than ever before, yet most Americans never see it.

  • Between 1979 and 2009, the richest 5% of American families saw their real incomes increase 73% while the poorest Americans saw their real incomes decrease by 7%.
  • And in 2010, the wealthiest 1% of Americans took home 24% of all U.S. income.
  • In fact, the wealthiest 1% of American families now own more than one third of the nation's net worth, and the top 10% owns more than 70% of the nation's net worth.
  • Sad but true, the gap between the wealthiest 1% and the rest is greater now than even during the Great Depression.

When greedy corporations rig the economy, America loses.

Right now, every day, American families are facing decisions between putting food on the table, paying the rent, buying school supplies, and obtaining medical care and prescription drugs. This is no time to leave those who count on unemployment insurance out in the cold.

It doesn't have to be this way.

America didn't become strong by putting families last. When times are tough, instead of cutting back vital programs, we need to make sure that families are protected so that we can rebuild the economic engine of our future. Policies like extending unemployment insurance will immediately help keep 1.8 million families afloat--and will also support our struggling economy.

How does extending unemployment insurance help our economy? Studies show that the money received as part of unemployment insurance is usually spent right away, and as a result, an independent study found that every $1 spent on unemployment insurance stimulated $2 in growth in the U.S. economy.

Our country is a nation of neighbors helping each other--and we can't let families down when they're already struggling. And families are truly struggling: The Census data released last month showed that nearly one in six American women are living in poverty, and 22% of children are living in poverty. On top of that bad news, there are 25 million Americans who want to work, but who can't find full-time jobs.

Families should be able to work hard and get what they need -- a good job, food on the table, good health, and a safe place to call home.

America offers freedoms and a democracy unlike anywhere else in the world. And through our democratic process, we together have the power to rebuild our economy so both businesses and families can thrive. But too often we assume we are powerless, so we don't act as if our voices matter. They do.

It's time to step back and remember that we together can help those whose blessings are less abundant this year. That starts by ensuring that families who rely on unemployment insurance don't lose their lifeline. Let's raise our voices together to make sure Congress doesn't forget how many of us are suffering and that we urgently need them to act -- right now.

Read on for personal stories and policy analysis telling the story of why families can't wait: Extend unemployment insurance now.

***

Good Education. Good Experience. Still Unemployed., Theresa Witt

Without Unemployment Insurance, My Family Would Have To Choose Which Bills to Pay, Teresa "Tigger" Rey

Unemployment Insurance is the LEAST We Can Offer Working Families, Elisanta Batista

I Am ‘Occupying’ D.C. for My Children and Future Generations, Linda Evans

I may lose my home because I can't find work, Juli from Wisconsin, unemployedworkers.org

When my husband faced unemployment, Karoline

Navigating unemployment, Jen

I Want My Pay Equity, Sin City Siren

Women and Unemployment, Dren

Surviving a Corporate War on the Middle Class, Verlene Jones, Coalition of Labor Union Women

Women, The Economy, and Unemployment Insurance, Angel Savoy, Coalition for Labor Union Women

Unemployment for Women Not Getting Better: Many Baby Boom Women Going Bust in Recovery, Janell Ross, Huffington Post

Holiday Fear, Christy T. Jones, American Association of University Women

Women, Black Workers Hard Hit By Attacks on Public Employees, Tula Connell, AFL-CIO

Happy Holidays, Congress! It’s Time to Extend UI., Julie Vogtman, National Women's Law Center

“No Christmas for Congress” Unless UI is Extended,  Anna McClure, National Women's Law Center

Modest Recovery Largely Leaves Women Behind, National Women's Law Center

Even in a Recession, Flex Makes (Dollars and) Sense, Nanette Fondas, MomsRising.org

Unemployment Insurance in the 1930s and Today, Michael J. Wilson

And Now, About Those Mega-Rich Alleged Job Creators..., Lily Eskelsen, National Education Association

Congress Should Act Now to Extend Unemployment Insurance, Beth Scott, American Association of University Women

The 99% And Our Homes, Nancy Wilberg-Ricks, National Council of La Raza

Small Steps Forward in Job Gains, But Not Enough to Close Gender Gap, Caroline Hopper, Institute for Women's Policy Research

"Unemployment discrimination" and the jobless, Elaine Quijano, CBS News

Squash Amash' march planned by Grand Rapids group over unemployment benefits debate, Garret Ellison, mlive.com

Unemployment and Taxes, Andrew Brusnahan, UnemployedWoman.com

Extend Unemployment Benefits, But Don’t Stop There, Lindsay Beyerstein, Ms. Magazine Blog

Unemployed Blogger Finds Humor in Rich/Poor Divide, Claire Gordon, aol.com


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