Each week unemployment benefits fail to be extended, state economies lose $400 million.
And as we already know, the personal toll is far greater....just read Carla and Kym's stories below and you'll see why.
Carla's (from Cary, NC) story:
I lost my repair services dispatch job in February 2012. I was newly separated and for the most part solely responsible for the care of (my then) eight-year-old daughter. Due to the separation, I already knew I was headed toward foreclosure but it became a sure thing with the job loss. I did end up fortunately able to do a short-sale.
Today my estranged husband and I live together as roommates in an apartment with our daughter. We do our best to function as a family for our daughter. I am grateful to have a roof over my daughter's and mine head. These past two years or so have been so very stressful and have impacted me and my family in virtually every way you can think. I have had a couple of very short-term part-time jobs so I also am in the "underemployed category". Being unemployed makes me feel that the "American Dream" is well beyond my reach. My husband does not make a lot of money so everything is very tight all of the time. I am certainly grateful though that he does have a job.
I also strongly feel that income inequality has contributed to my unemployment/underemployment and my ability to make progress. The way this country has been run for many years now, by the ultra-rich, have devastated many working families especially lower wage earners.
I did get a full year of unemployment (about 55% of prior income). Extended benefits definitely need to continue! There also needs to be more assistance and programs for the long-term unemployed. I have had to make hard, limited choices and continue to have to make them that I probably would not make due to my continued unemployment. There are a lot of people out there that need help and I am one of them.
Kym's (from Hampton, GA) Story:
I am a 51-year-old woman who was laid off 6 months ago. I have been diligently seeking work and just ended state unemployment benefits, which I qualified for because I worked for years and paid taxes and was laid off through no fault of my own. These benefits are not free - they are taxed! I am struggling to figure out how to move forward without Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) or options to pursue Financial Aid to go to school and earn new job skills. Why am I being vilified? I want to work!!
I had worked on a plan yesterday to return to school to get job training that would boost my employment chances in the IT/healthcare sector. I can’t stomach the helplessness of being stuck and stalled going forward. With the EUC benefits and my savings, I might get through this after all. This morning, my heart sank, as news outlets reported talks have broken off in the Senate on an extension- someone is mad or upset with someone else, like the ball has been scooped up and snatched off the court. I have decided not to watch the news because the on again off again debate about unemployment benefits is sending me into depths of depression.
I have been rationing food, heat, and utilities and have profound fears about the immediate future. I am jolted awake at night with thoughts about homelessness (overcame once before) and living in my car. The stress of having to brush off this sinking feeling of impending failure to smile and allow myself to be lifted by hope during interview after interview for jobs that don't materialize is taking a far greater toll than I first realized. I was working this time last year! I am not lazy or making excuses. I am very scared and more in doubt about my chances for success if I have to try to climb back from homelessness again.
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/.
Please make sure to check out the other parts of this series: