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Karla Strickland's picture

These are my partner Jared's remarks to the US Senate Finance Committee on how much unemployment insurance has meant to our family.

Remarks for Jared Strickland

Senate Finance Committee Press Call

June 5, 2020

Good morning! My name is Jared Strickland. My wife Karla and I live in St. Augustine, Florida with our three fantastic, rambunctious children, ages 13, 12, and 15 months and three cats Shadow, Chief, and Salem. We’re very proud to be members of MomsRising. 

Since COVID-19 hit, the pandemic unemployment assistance program has been essential to keeping my family afloat. I want to thank Sen. Wyden for the opportunity to share our story on this call. 

My family was on a long-awaited road trip in mid-March when the world began to rapidly change around us. The further into the trip we got, the more businesses and institutions shut down due to the pandemic. When we arrived safely home, I found out I was being furloughed indefinitely from my job at a timeshare vacation company. 

It was difficult not to panic. Once my final paychecks ran out, how would we pay for rent, food, and other necessities? We applied for unemployment insurance as soon as we could. It caused a lot of headaches and took several weeks, but my application was finally approved, and we’ve avoided falling into a financial hole. These benefits have allowed us to keep up with our bills and continue supporting our kids’ education and wellbeing during this difficult time.

Without the much-needed improvements to unemployment insurance included in the CARES Act, my family would be struggling right now. The $600/week in federal unemployment benefits have been especially crucial for us. Without this measure, the benefits I would receive would not be nearly enough to provide for our three children--in fact without the $600/week I would have been receiving just 25% of my regular paycheck. I’m not sure what we would have done, especially with our baby to take care of - diapers, wipes, baby food, teething gel and baby Tylenol, etc. 

That’s why it is so important to me that Congress acts quickly to extend these benefits and make improvements to our unemployment insurance system so struggling families don’t fall through the cracks. The vacation industry has been hit very hard. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to return to work, or if I will eventually need to find a job in a different industry. In the meantime, we need to pay our bills and provide for our children and pets. 

I know my family’s story is not unique. If these benefits are not extended, it will cause real harm to so many families, including mine, across the country.

The pandemic and the economic crisis it has caused won’t magically disappear on July 31st. Working families like mine will continue to struggle for many months to come, and we need our lawmakers to step up and protect our economic security.

Thank you.

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