This morning the Senate took the first step to extend unemployment insurance to the 1.3 million people who lost benefits last month. The bill still awaits a final vote and then an uphill battle in the House of Representatives. Still there are millions of people struggling to make ends meet after their unemployment benefits were cut off in December.
Below you will find the stories of Deborah and Kirstin: two women who have struggled with joblessness. One woman has lost her unemployment benefits. Another woman can testify to how important these benefits are in getting a family through a period of unemployment.
Deborah's (from Gainesville, FL) story:
I lost my job as an insurance agent in September 2012. The company was taken over by people from a retail background. The new regime thinks that selling auto insurance is like retail--it should be easy to get people to make impulse buys! I was the oldest agent with the longest tenure in the state of Florida. They are replacing the older people with younger people because the younger employees have no expectation of being treated as a professional.
Never in my life have I not gotten a job I have interviewed for. Since losing my job I have applied for hundreds of jobs in diverse fields. In the past 15 months, I have managed to get exactly two interviews. Neither was in the insurance field. In this economy, being over the age of 50 is not a good thing.
My unemployment benefits ran out in October.
My daughter and two grandchildren moved in with me just before I lost my job. My daughter makes a little more than minimum wage, and has been supporting the household by herself. My tier III benefits lasted for a week, due to the sequestration cuts. I am not eligible for tier IV, since our illustrious Governor has said that unemployment in Florida has dropped below the level needed. Sure it has, if you pretend those whose benefits have run out are no longer unemployed!
I have a mortgage with a clause that states if I miss one payment by more than 30 days, I lose my home. Not an enjoyable thing to have hanging over your head during the holidays! Still, I know there are people out there in much worse situations than my family.
Kirstin's (Santa Cruz, CA) story:
Unemployment insurance hits many people like me who have no savings. My paychecks go towards rent, food, utilities and little extra for me and my two kids. Losing my job last spring was devastating. I had only enough in savings for one month of living costs. Without U.I., my family would have had to move homes or beg our landlord or I don't know what we would have done!
I got a decent job within six months and am very grateful that I was able to maintain a home and living that was consistent for my kids, thanks to the benefits I received.
If you are interested in sharing your story and thoughts on unemployment with MomsRising (and possibly having your experience posted on this blog) please go here: https://www.momsrising.org/member_stories/topic/unemployment-stories/.
Part 1 of this series can be found here: http://www.momsrising.org/blog/voices-of-the-unemployed-part-1/