As the Senate continues to debate an extension of unemployment benefits, we continue to hear from families dealing with joblessness. We have added two more stories to our collection from moms Elizabeth and Wendy.
Elizabeth's (from Chicago, IL) story:
My story is like most others: decades of working (since babysitting at 12), and fortunate to still have the same job after 15 years. My husband, as hard working as anyone, lost his sales job when his company closed in late 2012. My salary plus his unemployment and whatever he can get by doing odd jobs, is barely sustaining us and our two children. There are no vacations, no nights outs, no movies or restaurants. Just working, and looking for work, and being unable to sleep due to the stress.
There are so many low points. One that comes to mind is asking my teenage daughter to cash in one of her savings bonds to pay the gas bill so it would not be cut off. I mean, can you imagine? But you have to have hope that things will eventually get better.
It is so frustrating, sad, and depressing to go through this for so many months, and hear so many people say how the unemployed “choose” not to work and would rather lay around all day and collect a check. The reality is, the check is half of my husband’s former salary and one must prove that you are actively searching for jobs to be eligible.
Wendy's (Durham, NC) story:
I lost a management job with a communications company. My position was eliminated and my work was given to four union employees. I was given a fair severance package but I could not afford the COBRA health insurance. My fiancé and I decided to get married earlier than planned so my son and I would be covered. I filed for unemployment in March 2013 and went to several seminars offered by the Employment Security Commission (ESC). I applied for at least 2 jobs a week if not more. I gave birth to my second child at the end of July. My unemployment benefits ran out a couple weeks later.
Thank goodness my husband has an excellent job, however we still struggle every month. We have used credit cards that normally we would not have used and have carried balances on them that we would never have had to before. The interest is insane, but when you don't have the money to put gas in the car to take your child to the doctor, you have to put it on a credit card. When you need diapers and don't have the money, you put it on a credit card. We don't go out to eat like we used to. We don't even cook the meals we used to. We cook things that we can make last for several meals. We haven't taken any vacations other than visiting family.
Some days I think I would be better off financially if I hadn't gotten married. I certainly would have qualified for many government programs, but now married we don't qualify. I'm sure some think I'm very fortunate to own a home. And yes, I give thanks each and every day that I have been able to continue to maintain my mortgage. However, I know my mortgage is less than rent. I guess I'm just glad that while I was working, I saved and penny pinched so that now we can survive. We have credit card debt, but hopefully I will have a new job in the next few months so we can start working the debt down.
I don't think we are the norm. If I had not been engaged, my son and I might be in big financial trouble. We might have had to sell the house and move to a less than desirable area, or I may have had to let his father have custody and move back to NY where my extended family lives.
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/, Part 2 can be found here: http://www.momsrising.org/blog/voices-of-the-unemployed-part-2/ and Party 3 can be found here: http://www.momsrising.org/blog/tashas-story-voices-of-the-unemployed-part-3/.