Illustration by Petr Krotochvil
As the November 2014 elections come closer with elections for the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate as well as important propositions for American voters to vote on no one single issue seems as important as the plight of the long-term unemployed in America who are victims of the Great Recession that fell in 2008. This single issue could in fact be the tipping point for the outcome of the elections more than any other. It is amazing that both of the major political parties are avoiding mention of it as well as the media that is in bed with them because this issue points out the failures of the American government to turn the economy around and bring prosperity. I could go on about the importance of it and how it is related to the other important issues being discussed with these elections coming up but it is better if I let the long-term unemployed speak for themselves.
Stories Of The Long-Term Unemployed
“My dad, S, killed himself March 16, 2009 because he ran out of money and could not find work. My whole family had been devastated by the economy. He was 61 years old and could not take it anymore. He could not figure out how to keep the electric on, buy food, or keep a roof over his head. A day before his electric was to be shut off, and 2 weeks away from eviction, my dad took the hardest walk of his life. He left a note on the dining room table for my sister and I. His suicide letter said ‘I love you. I had to do this. I ran out of money. I wish you both luck in your lives’. He left the door unlocked with the door key left in the lock. He carefully laid out two suits for us to pick from to bury him in,”
“ I was let go from cash a job I had. I am really upset. And I have to move cause I was finally evicted. At least I found a place, but now with no job. My son is 22 and has Lupus and many other health issues. He was denied disability. We have to fight it. You tell me how this is fair??”
“The problem with our system is that there is NO help until you are homeless. and then not much at all I have went from 6 figures to well below poverty and still don’t qualify for a damn thing.
They kicked all men off of general assistance for the most part and now they have women qualifying for less and less food assistance and cash assistance goes down for every extra child.
soon there will be no safety net programs at all. If I were in canada they would be giving me disability while they find out exactly what is wrong with me. I have a friend from detroit with two little kids that has been fighting for disability for over 5 years. She has MS and they KNOW THAT! Its proven!
My friends and family in canada shake their heads when they hear these stories. They do pay more % in taxes but do you know what? thier wages are MUCH MUCH higher! All of my family in Canada are living the american dream….. I am a man that has paid into these programs for 35 years. I have played by all of the rules. Im suppose to be on a very strict diet or I WILL DIE!!!!
They offered me,,,,,, 15 stinking dollars per month, I literally feel betrayed by my country.”
“My name is Rocco, and like Trista, I too have been suffering from the loss of federal benefits. While my wife goes to work, I’ve been staying at home to conserve fuel. I’ve been losing weight from eating less, so my family has more on their plates. It feels like the government and big business expect more and more while trying to give back as little as possible. Soon my internet connection will be shut off and since most companies don’t offer paper applications, how will I find work then? Walking around for miles a day, asking for an application that may or may not be available?”
“Thanks to sequestration and the ripple effect of the gridlock in congress…. the small R&D company I worked for had to make difficult cutbacks. I was one of the those laid off. Was let go at the end of the month, so had no extension of health care benefits (employer neglected to send COBRA), 1 child, single mother so no other income. Have been constantly looking for 6 months, spending most of my day looking and rewriting my resume for jobs. Never hearing back . I’ve received about 1 interview per 25 applications sent in. ”
“I’m educated with a variety of skills, but I’m about to become under employed, simply because my benefits are running out this week and I have not heard back from the numerous suitable jobs I want. I need to survive.
Now I have to struggle to find part time or something with a schedule to support my single mom lifestyle. I won’t be able to afford daycare on that kind of salary. Unsure if I’ll be able to afford my apartment I live in.
Most jobs on the market pay too low or have bad hours, and by too low, I’m not talking about expecting 100k jobs. I’m talking about 30k a year is suitable. So too low means a salary below that.
For someone with a bachelor’s degree and 20 years of work experience.”
“My state unemployment expired in the middle of battle with cancer. I appealed to the state of WA. They paid me one week of compensation in 2013; then assigned me to federal emergency unemployment compensation which, as you know, has not gone anywhere.”
“I know at least 10 people who have graduated from college in past yr or more and can’t find regular good paying jobs….some are delivering pizza, etc.”
” I don’t see any mention of an extension for unemployment benefits in 2014 for those who are still out of work and out of benefits, like my son, who is in the age range listed. We’re starving over here. It would be nice to see some articles that take this into account since there are a whole hell of a lot of us out here who can’t sleep without worrying about how to eat tomorrow. No one wants to talk about that reality.”
“The company I work for closed at the end of February. My unemployment insurance lasted 18 weeks. I am in a very bad place and need help right now and there is no place for me to get it. My unemployment was $158 a week and now I don’t even have that. I have gotten zero interviews for any of the jobs I have applied for and I am a 52 year old college graduate.”
“Many unemployed in philly and south jersey. Avoid Atlantic City NJ as it is one big crime scene! Only going to get much worse with the 5th casino closing in 9 months. Meanwhile, Camden NJ, with the highest crime rate, has a senator heading up a foreign relations committee?”
“I totally am convinced at this point that the politicians blocking the chances to receive temporary assistance to the long term unemployed are not for their constituents who are affected by this misfortune through no fault of their own, who have tried so very hard constantly & vigilantly faxing, calling, emailing & physically, until the benefits that made it possible to do all that stopped. How can a perspective lead or future employer get in contact if all services are terminated! ! These Politicians are only looking out for their deeper pockets and for the Wealthy who fill them!…”
“The rate of the calls has stopped because they’re telling people to stop claiming the benefits in some States. My goodness, Who’s paying these people not to report the real truth.”
“I was laid off in March and soon my California benefits will be toast. I’ll be ok for quite awhile still but I feel bad for those who’ve got to raise families and the loss of their benefits means no income. So then they’ll just end up on welfare. Not seeing how that saves anyone any money. Just taking money from one budget instead of another.”
“There is no welfare for the middle class in California. All you get is food stamps and even that was cut back on so it’s not enough to survive on.”
“My vehicle has over $3000 in repairs. I have LITERALLY NO INCOME! The only reason why I still have peace is because I pray and put my trust in the Lord. I must say that He has come through for me miraculously! I know I should be panicking by now, but I have this “everything will be ok” attitude. This unexplainable peace!”
“They don’t care one bit of our struggles. They claim there are more jobs, but they have taken all the good ones and in return they created low income jobs. You can’t make it on a low income job. It’s not possible to survive. They still count that as a job??? Yes they do…”
“there are over 7 million and counting in GA so that is a big issue for GA and in most areas the pay is very very low but apts high because it’s good for them since the housing industry is bad. I see more of middle class filing bankruptcy and at food banks”
“I worked for 25 years at the same company and was laid off with a few others earlier this year. My benefits are about to be gone but I’ve got other funds put away that I was hoping not to touch at this stage in my life. I’m 56. Unlikely I will find something comparable to what I was doing. I was offered a greeter position at Walmart the other day. I said thanks and just started laughing. I feel for those people who are trying to support and provide for their families.”
“Of course the un employed number continues to go down. I have now reached the one year mark and am no longer able to file a weekly report. When contacting the UE office they advised me even though I was still seeking employment not be able to file a report. I asked why not as I was not employed at this time. I was advised
after one year they no longer track anyone who has not found a job as they system is not large enough to maintain the high volume of un employed. Therefore you no longer exist and have become no one. I am 56yrs of age and let go from my previous job for no fault of my own. I got replaced with a young in experienced person for 2/3rds of my wage. Despite the fact I was a salary employee who worked 14 hr days 6&7 days week and did not take vacation time because there
was no one to fill in in my absence so everything piled up if you were out. Now they have a person who has a family and a life who struggles to work an 8 hr day and only 5 days a week. They are now looking to hire another person to keep up with the work load..”
“I am a 58 yoa, multi degreed professional, including a doctorate, who was unemployed for more than two years. In sheer desperation I markedly “dumbed down” my resume, dyed my hair, thought like the Marine I am and managed to land a job mildly related to my field paying about a third of what I used to make. I have to swallow my pride each and evey work day and essentially function at the level I am expected to. There are always choices and sometimes one just has to bear the unbearable. My heart goes out to all my brothers and sisters who are similarly situated and have yet to have the luck I had to find even this job.
This is a structual change and much of the population is in the cold hard light of day is surplus. Yet we will not simply vanish and will continue to struggle to survive as long as we draw a breath……….”
“I am 57. I obtained my Bachelor’s degree in English before I got married and started a family. As my children got to school age, I went back to school for nursing. After my husband died 17 years ago, I worked my way up the corporate ladder to the executive level in the healthcare industry. I was also a certified childbirth educator who taught at our local hospital for years. Then I got my Master’s degree in Corporate Communication. I am a freelance writer and I also started my own business, helping people with their career development.
But after I was laid off two years ago from my full time job, I could not find work. I sent out hundreds of resumes with no responses. My consulting business dwindled, as people could not afford the luxury of a career coach. I ended up helping people who were out work for no charge. It was bittersweet to watch these people find work when I couldn’t.
I have MS, which has worsened dramatically since I was laid off. I can now no longer walk and I am too sick to work, which is what I want to do more than anything. I am losing everything I worked so hard to build. When my unemployment ran out two months ago, I literally had no income. I scraped by somehow and luckily was just approved for disability. On disability I will have an annual income that is less than one fifth of what I have made in the past and places me just above the poverty level.
I still cannot believe it. If it could happen to me, it could happen to anyone.”
“I’m 69, and can retire with a pension and social security. So why am I still working? My son is a recent college graduate who has yet to find a job (suprised?). For me to help him out I need to keep working. Sorry for some other young person who might step into my position, but now I am holding two households together.”
“This piece must re read in conjunction with the article about student debt. Even if we assume that many of these graduates will find gainful employment – admittedly, an assumption not borne out by reality – it is unlikely that they will provide any sort of boost for the economy because they, and their parents, will be paying student debt for the nexzt 10-15 years, further aggravating the cycle of decline.
Also, while it undoubtedly would be political suicide for the party in power to do so, it’s long past time that unemployment statistics included those who are no longer looking for work.”
” In 2009, I along with seven others were laid off from a private college in South Carolina. All over the age of 40, most over 50 and more than 50% women. In the years to follow more than a dozen others have been let go.
My immediate supervisor told me he was instructed to build a case against the highest paid employees of the department as we could be replaced by young employees in a year. Upon meeting with HR it was explained the termination was unfounded and had been changed to a layoff. The others I spoke to who had been cut told similar stories. There was no forewarning, no severance, just the call to the office at 4:30 on Friday.
Being over 50, it is incredibly difficult to find gainful employment, especially when the person you interview with is barely out of their teens. The assumption is that no one gets laid off from a college and we must have done something to deserve it. And since they have changed the termination to a layoff, they skirt the issues of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).
In this case, a simple campus wide furlough of one day would have saved everyone’s jobs. But it wasn’t considered. Oddly enough, there was no moratorium on purchases of Ipad’s and Iphone’s for the administration.”
“i’ve been looking for a job over a year. No, Mitt Romney I have not been sitting on my duff playing tiddlywinks. I have applied for well over a thousand jobs. I have the spreadsheet to prove it. I have a top tier education and decent experience. I apply for jobs I’m underqualified for as well as overqualified for. I get interviews but no offers. I’m going to be 46 in la few weeks. I have no family and friends became scarce when I got laid off. Nina Simone was right when she said “nobody knows you when you’re down and out”. Suicide is always in the back of my mind which is sad because I don’t want to die but I cannot find a self-supporting job and I have zero support. I am completely alone. My confidence is at an all time low and my spirit is broken. Washington doesn’t care about people like me. Ageism is something that our government refuses to acknowledge let alone do anything about. My unemployment was slashed dramatically as a result of the sequester and I’m living on beans and rice now but at least my rent is paid. What happens if my unemployment expires and I still don’t have a self-supporting job and my rent is no longer paid and I lose my home? That’s easy. I kill myself.”