Starting tomorrow and continuing through the end of July, political, faith, labor and nonprofit leaders will gather outside the Capitol each Wednesday to read and listen to the stories that more than 2,000 Americans have shared.

These stories will make vivid and visible the senseless hardship and unnecessary struggle that hard-working Americans have been exposed to as a result of political obstruction.

Earlier this week, the number of Americans who have been denied access to Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program passed 3 million, and that number will continue to rise unless the program is extended.

When President Bush signed a bill to extend emergency unemployment in June 2008, Republicans and Democrats agreed that an unemployment rate of 5.6 percent, in an economy where the average duration of unemployment was 17.1 weeks, was unacceptable.

The latest jobs numbers tell us that – even without counting workers who have left the jobs market without finding employment – the unemployment rate is 6.3 percent, and the average duration of an individual’s unemployment is 34.5 weeksalmost nine months.  Workers are facing a still-brutal jobs market, and families are falling between the cracks.

We know that extending emergency unemployment benefits is not a Republican or Democratic issue – it is not an issue of right and left – it is an issue of right and wrong.

To give a voice to the millions of Americans who have suffered as a handful of powerful House members forced an unemployment extension bill to expire, we will be reading aloud the stories from unemployed Americans from across the country, many of whom are readers of this blog. These folks are being directly squeezed by the jobs deficit and are from diverse backgrounds – they are teachers, iron workers, secretaries, engineers, food workers, nurses, financial analysts, and businessmen – united in their belief that America can do better than turning its back during people’s time of need. Join us as we stand together and call upon Congress to renew emergency unemployment benefits and allow those who have suffered to get back on their feet and back to work.

Interested in taking part in Witness Wednesdays: Voices of the Unemployed?

For Further Reading:

Unemployed Americans Kicked Out of Capitol, Forced to Share Their Stories OutsideThe Fine Print blog, May 10, 2014

Six Months after Emergency Unemployment Benefits Expired, 2.8 Million Americans Left BehindThe Fine Print blog, May 21, 2014

Witness Wednesdays: Stories of the Long-Term Unemployed to Be Read on Capitol HillThe Fine Print blog, June 10, 2014 

Bipartisan Unemployment Benefits Bills in Both HousesThe Fine Print blog, July 2, 2014

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