Witness Wednesday

Take Action!

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 throughout Congress' August recess for tips and tools for raising this issue with your elected representatives. They'll be visiting districts throughout the month, giving all of us an opportunity to pose tough questions and demand progress. Our friends, neighbors, and family members struggling with long-term unemployment need action, not excuses.

Our partners


State Number of Unemployed, June 2014
Unemployment Rate by State, June 2014
Alaska 23,500 6.4%
Arizona 210,400 6.9%
Arkansas 81,600 6.2%
California 1,378,000 7.4%
Colorado 153,300 5.5%
Connecticut 125,400 6.7%
Delaware 27,200 6.1%
District of Columbia
27,300 7.4%
Florida 596,800 6.2%
Georgia 353,700 7.4%
Hawaii 29,100 4.4%
Idaho 36,900 4.7%
Illinois 461,700 7.1%
Indiana 189,900 5.9%
Iowa 74,500 4.4%
Kansas 72,800 4.9%
Kentucky 152,300 7.4%
Louisiana 105,100 5.0%
Maine 39,300 5.5%
Maryland 180,300 5.8%
Massachusetts 191,000 5.5%
Michigan 357,400 7.5%
Minnesota 135,500 4.5%
Mississippi 100,400 7.9%
Missouri 197,700 6.5%
Montana 23,400 4.5%
Nebraska 36,100 3.5%
Nevada 105,400 7.7%
New Hampshire
32,400 4.4%
New Jersey
296,000 6.6%
New Mexico
60,500 6.5%
New York
634,700 6.6%
North Carolina
299,300 6.4%
North Dakota
11,000 2.7%
Ohio 315,900 5.5%
Oklahoma 81,200 4.5%
Oregon 131,300 6.8%
Pennsylvania 357,100 5.6%
Rhode Island
44,200 7.9%
South Carolina
115,600 5.3%
South Dakota
17,300 3.8%
Tennessee 193,900 6.6%
Texas 668,200 5.1%
Utah 52,000 3.5%
Vermont 11,500 3.5%
Virginia 227,600 5.3%
Washington 201,000 7.9%
West Virginia
49,900 6.2%
Wisconsin 174,900 5.7%
Wyoming 12,600 4.0%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Number of Americans Denied Access to Extended Unemployment Compensation

Counter courtesy of the Office of Rep. Sander Levin

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 growing 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.

You can also participate in the Center for Effective Government's Long-Term Unemployed Action Forum.

For Further Reading

Emergency Unemployment Benefits Are Not Forgotten, The Fine Print blog, Feb. 26, 2014

Emergency Unemployment Benefits: Ways to Take Action, The Fine Print blog, March 6, 2014

Emergency Unemployment Benefits: Time to Petition the Government, The Fine Print blog, March 12, 2014

Emergency Unemployment Benefits: Compromise in the Senate, The Fine Print blog, March 14, 2014

Emergency Unemployment Benefits: Boehner Signals Reluctance in the House, The Fine Print blog, March 21, 2014

Emergency Unemployment Benefits Extension Clears First Hurdle in the Senate, The Fine Print blog, March 28, 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 Bill Passes the Senate, Increasing Pressure on the House, The Fine Print blog, April 8, 2014

Stories of Americans Cut Off of Emergency Unemployment Compensation, Government Matters, April 22, 2014

Emergency Unemployment Extension Expected to Take Back Seat to Tax Extenders, The Fine Print blog, April 25, 2014

Technically Speaking: Making Sense of Discharge Petitions, Cloture and Filibusters, The Fine Print blog, May 5, 2014

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

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

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

Not a Game: Women and Families Hit Hard by Long-Term Unemployment, National Women's Law Center blog, June 18, 2014

Long-Term Unemployment: Spotlight on Women and Families, National Women's Law Center, June 18, 2014

Witness Wednesday: Voices of the Unemployed, Voices for Human Needs blog, June 19, 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 Benefits Keep Families in their Homes, The Fine Print blog, Aug. 8, 2014

Unemployment Insurance: A 79-Year Old Promise to American Workers That Needs Renewing, The Fine Print blog, Aug. 14, 2014