Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Exhausting Unemployment

Just stumbled on a fantastic five-part series of articles about falling into poverty in America titled "Meet the 99'ers", which refers to the millions of Americans who have exhausted their 99 weeks of state & federal unemployment insurance and have nothing left.

Through most of 2008 and the beginning of 2009, I experienced 51 weeks of unemployment and I would be lying if I said that I didn't have a few close friends who honestly scolded me and thought I was abusing my benefits and just not trying hard enough to get hired. I understand first-hand the feelings of self-loathing, worthlessness & depression that can come with extended unemployment and I can only hope that articles like these will help those lucky enough to dodge the recession bullet to show empathy and compassion for the many still struggling.

Contrary to what the Republican party would have you believe, the unemployed are not gaming the system, they are not happy, they are not "hobos", they're not lazy or stealing your tax dollars or any of the other myriad of names that the GOP has called them. They are you and me. Regular people, just trying to get by in a really bad recession...actually it's a depression.

Maybe most importantly, to those neigh-sayers, please remember that we all paid for this insurance, it's not free money any more than getting reimbursed after your house gets robbed is free money. I paid 17 years of unemployment insurances dues, and I was warranted every dime I needed.

Anyway, I urge you to read the five short articles, but here is a taste:
From - "We've had to sell our car, burn through both of our 401(k)s and charge up all our credit cards just to stay afloat," she says. "We're a month behind on our rent. I jump every time the doorbell or telephone ring because I know that it is someone looking for money from us, and we don't have any."
The fact that she's been unemployed for over two years is still shocking to Yvonne. She started working at 15 years old and has decades of experience in administration, including work at a movie studio, a major university, a biomedical engineering company and more. But since she was laid off from her job as an executive assistant at a local union in 2007, she can count the number of temp jobs she's gotten on one hand.
Susan, who's 55 and lives in Philadelphia, has been pounding the pavement since 2008 when she was laid off from her sales job at a consulting business.

"I've looked everywhere," Susan said. "I have probably sent out 400 resumes in the last year and a half, two years. I've gotten one interview. One interview."

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