Voices of the Unemployed
Stories from Hard-Hit Americans
From Clifton, New Jersey:
I am a divorced single mom, now 54. I lost my job in June 2013 due to a "new direction" for the company I wasn't a part of. I worked three jobs at once for over 20 years to support my family. I have never applied for assistance in my life. We give tax breaks to corporations, tax breaks to businesses, and here we are, unemployed through no fault of our own. I've depleted my 401(k) and have nothing. I fought for food stamps. I have no rent money for this month. Is this what America has become? Starving unemployed workers who have worked all their lives, homeless in the streets? Walk in our shoes for a day! We aren't looking for a handout, just a little help and compassion until we get back on our feet.
From Wallingford, Connecticut:
Since I lost my job, I had a catheter inserted in my bladder and had to have a hip replaced. Three weeks after my operation, a hematoma developed on the incision on my hip and burst the incision. I had to have an emergency operation to heal and replace the new joint. I had to stay in the hospital a total of three weeks, in a rehab facility for six more weeks, and in an antibiotic infusion center for another week. I have not been able to search for a job, and it will be some time before I can. I have used a lot of my money so far, and the medical bills have not arrived yet. On top of all this, I am a 66-year-old man, and I will need some kind of income just to survive.
From Florissant, Missouri:
We are only a few weeks away from losing our house and car. My nephew has a temp job, but it's not enough. He quit school to help me. Six months with no income is cruel. I am diabetic and I can't afford medication anymore.
From Salem, New Hampshire:
I'm scraping by with the help of friends who I now owe a huge debt to. I am lucky that I do not have little children to worry about feeding and providing for. I am no longer contributing to the economy because I have nothing to contribute. My retirement fund is being depleted; what do I live on in ten years when I retire?
From Laredo, Texas:
I have been unemployed for seven months. I can't get a job and can't sleep at night. I wonder if it is my age: I am 60 years old. Thank God that I feel good and healthy, but if I were to get sick, how could I see a doctor? I am [already] struggling paying my bills.
Find these stories and more in our story archive.
Share your story with us! Use our brief webform to tell us how the expiration of extended unemployment benefits has impacted you, your family, and your community.
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We must continue to call for action on emergency unemployment compensation. Click here to find addresses, phone numbers, and contact information for your elected officials. Thank House and Senate champions for standing up for the long-term unemployed, and urge House leadership to reach across the aisle and work with the Senate so that both chambers can pass extension legislation.
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More than 3 million hardworking Americans have been cut off of emergency unemployment compensation since the program was allowed to expire on Dec. 28, 2013. Extended unemployment benefits help people pay their rent, utility bills, and transportation while they seek new work.
In the past, both Republicans and Democrats have helped the unemployed get back on their feet. It's time for us to come together again and support our friends and neighbors.
The Center for Effective Government, the National Employment Law Project, the Coalition on Human Needs, and the National Women's Law Center have collected more than 2,000 stories from Americans suffering from long-term unemployment. Throughout June and July, our organizations joined members of Congress and faith, labor, civil rights, and nonprofit leaders to share some of these stories in a series of seven Witness Wednesday events. Thank you to all who joined with us, listened to these readings, and amplified the call for an extension of long-term unemployment insurance. Footage from all events is located in our Witness Wednesday video library.
Please continue to visit this page as Congress returns from its August recess for tips and tools for raising this issue with your elected representatives. Our friends, neighbors, and family members struggling with long-term unemployment need action, not excuses.
For Further Reading
Valuing Labor Means Helping Workers, Especially When There Are No Jobs, Common Dreams op-ed, Aug. 31, 2014
Unemployment Insurance: A 79-Year Old Promise to American Workers That Needs Renewing, The Fine Print blog, Aug. 14, 2014
Unemployment Benefits Keep Families in their Homes, The Fine Print blog, Aug. 8, 2014
Highway Trust Fund Temporarily Saved, Unemployed Still Waiting on EUC, The Fine Print blog, July 18, 2014
Bipartisan Unemployment Benefits Bills in Both Houses, The Fine Print blog, July 2, 2014
What is this Country about Anymore?, OtherWords op-ed, July 2, 2014
Witness Wednesday: Voices of the Unemployed, Voices for Human Needs blog, June 19, 2014
Long-Term Unemployment: Spotlight on Women and Families, National Women's Law Center, June 18, 2014
Not a Game: Women and Families Hit Hard by Long-Term Unemployment, National Women's Law Center blog, June 18, 2014
Witness Wednesdays: Stories of the Long-Term Unemployed to Be Read on Capitol Hill, The Fine Print blog, June 10, 2014
Six Months after Emergency Unemployment Benefits Expired, 2.8 Million Americans Left Behind, The Fine Print blog, May 21, 2014
Unemployed Americans Kicked Out of Capitol, Forced to Share Their Stories Outside, The Fine Print blog, May 10, 2014
Technically Speaking: Making Sense of Discharge Petitions, Cloture and Filibusters, The Fine Print blog, May 5, 2014
Emergency Unemployment Extension Expected to Take Back Seat to Tax Extenders, The Fine Print blog, April 25, 2014
Stories of Americans Cut Off of Emergency Unemployment Compensation, Government Matters, April 22, 2014
Emergency Unemployment Benefits Bill Passes the Senate, Increasing Pressure on the House, The Fine Print blog, April 8, 2014
Extending Emergency Unemployment: Senate Finally Expected to Vote to Extend Benefits and Rush through Corporate Tax Cuts, The Fine Print blog, April 2, 2014
Emergency Unemployment Benefits Extension Clears First Hurdle in the Senate, The Fine Print blog, March 28, 2014
Emergency Unemployment Benefits: Boehner Signals Reluctance in the House, The Fine Print blog, March 21, 2014
Emergency Unemployment Benefits: Compromise in the Senate, The Fine Print blog, March 14, 2014
Emergency Unemployment Benefits: Time to Petition the Government, The Fine Print blog, March 12, 2014
Emergency Unemployment Benefits: Ways to Take Action, The Fine Print blog, March 6, 2014
Emergency Unemployment Benefits Are Not Forgotten, The Fine Print blog, Feb. 26, 2014
Witness Wednesday partners
Image courtesy of the Office of Rep. Sander Levin