Unemployment Benefits Keep Families in their Homes
by Jessica Schieder, 8/8/2014
For breadwinners struggling to find work, unemployment insurance acts as a backstop against the worst financial devastation. A new study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that in states where unemployment compensation was more generous and extended benefits were available for a longer period of time, homeowners were less likely to be behind on their mortgages and lose their homes.
The benefits available to unemployed Americans vary significantly from state to state, but, for families down on their luck, the money is often only enough to pay the most pressing bills. On average, unemployed workers receive about $300 a week. Families continue to pay their mortgages but energy bills fall by the wayside; gas to travel to interviews is purchased but pantries are hollowed out.
Below are a handful of stories from unemployed Americans who are losing their homes, which the Center for Effective Government has received in the past two weeks:
- “Right now we are facing foreclosure, no medical or dental insurance, shut off notices of all utilities, and I am not sure how much longer I will still be able to buy groceries.”- Kirstie in Delanco, New Jersey
- “I am a 63 year old man. [I have] lost my home, my car, and I sit here losing everything […] Representatives have the power to stop the foreclosures and save homes, cars, etc.” – Jo in Baraboo, Wisconsin
- “Foreclosure, loss of our car, no insurance, no utilities and necessities, and homelessness are all disasters we face immediately if no extended benefits with retroactive weeks are approved. The retroactive payments would not sit in a savings account, but [they] would be used to pay the mortgage company, the car payment, and to keep the electricity on.” - Laurie in Port Saint Lucie, Florida
Despite the desperate situation that more than 3 million long-term unemployed Americans are facing, Congress has left town for its five-week summer recess. While representatives are in their home districts, the voices of the unemployed need to be heard. Ask representatives what they’ve done to support the renewal of Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC).
Utilize the following tools to make sure representatives hear your voice:
- Find who represents you and your family in the U.S. House of Representatives and how to contact them: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/
- Find events at which representatives will be appearing through Accountable Congress’ website: http://www.accountablecongress.com/
- Read, download, and share stories from real unemployed Americans here: http://www.foreffectivegov.org/euc-story-archive
- Utilize the fact sheets below to ask questions about unemployment insurance:
- Fact Sheet: The Impact of Inaction on Families and Communities
- Fact Sheet: Women, Families, and Unemployment
- Fact Sheet: Veterans and Unemployment
- Fact Sheet: Minority Workers and Unemployment
- Fact Sheet: Long-term Unemployment and Older Workers
- Fact Sheet: The Impact of Unemployment Cuts on Jobs and the Economy
- Share your story at the Witness Wednesdays: Voices of the Unemployed homepage.
For Further Reading
Witness Wednesdays: Stories of the Long-Term Unemployed to Be Read on Capitol Hill, The Fine Print blog, June 10, 2014
What is this Country about Anymore?, OtherWords op-ed, July 2, 2014
Bipartisan Unemployment Benefits Bills in Both Houses, The Fine Print blog, July 2, 2014
Highway Trust Fund Temporarily Saved, Unemployed Still Waiting on EUC, The Fine Print blog, July 18, 2014
Unemployment Insurance: A 79-Year Old Promise to American Workers That Needs Renewing, The Fine Print blog, Aug. 14, 2014