Due to receiving more than 200 letters thus far from those who submitted letters to the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support is holding a hearing , I need to create multiple posts.
The House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support is holding a hearing this week on June 10 titled: Hearing on Responding to Long-Term Unemployment. I asked readers of Rochester Unemployment Examiner to send me letters they wrote to the Committee that they also wanted me to publish.* Below are some of those letters. I’ll be posting other letters as I receive permission.
There is still time to write; you can submit letters to House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support is holding a hearing until the close of business on June 24.
I want to thank all of you for including me in your letters to the Hearing. I will do my best to reply to each and everyone of you in a timely fashion.
From R.G. in CA:
Title of Hearing: Hearing on Responding to Long-Term Unemployment
I am a so-called 99er. One of the long term unemployed people that have exhausted all of their unemployment benefits. I have been working in the same industry since 1973. Yes, I have been unemployed in the past. Each time it has taken 2-4 months to find work. Always successful. This time it is different.
I began my unemployment this time in October of 2007. My company moved back East, and I was unable to move. I have applied consistently EVERY WEEK since being unemployed except for the last few weeks. A few interviews came at the beginning, then absolutely nothing. I never gave up. Always networking and applying. If you wish I can provide a spreadsheet of employers that have my resume. There are approximately 600 employers on the spreadsheet. That does NOT included about 100 prospective recruiters and employers who contacted me through email asking about my resume that has been posted on various websites. Nor does it include jobs I have applied for that are NOT in my profession. Total job contacts are approximately 750.
Again, I have been in my industry for about 37 years. And this is the first time that this has happened.
Don’t exclude the 99ers from unemployment benefits. They are not slouches. They DO NOT want to live forever on unemployment benefits. They are hard working individuals that have been caught in a recession. They deserve better.
Even better than getting an unemployment benefit extension…. Offer me a job and see how I respond.
From T.B. in IL:
RE: Hearing on Responding to Long-Term Unemployment
Congressman McDermott, et al:
First, let me thank everyone involved with this hearing and express my sincere hope that it will result in policy decisions that are appropriate for this new 21st century economy, and that any policy results be debated and implemented with all due haste as this is a critical time in this country’s history.
As I write this letter today, I have no source of income. My current level of federal unemployment compensation benefits expired on Saturday, June 5th and the Senate is still debating whether I am worthy enough to move on to the next level. We know that the House barely approved the current eligibility extension just before the Memorial Day recess, but that the Senate chose to take their vacation time instead of helping some truly deserving Americans – and constituents.
My story is like so many others that one hears about today – I was employed in a good job with a good salary and am now unemployed through no fault of my own. But like all of those other people, my story is unique to me just as theirs is unique to them, and I would now like to take this opportunity to tell you mine.
I am a single woman who is 48 years old and have an elderly cat of 13 who came to live with me when she was 2 months old. We both have health issues that require daily medication. After working over 6 years for my previous employer, I was laid off on January 5, 2009 and am still unemployed, even though I diligently look for a new job every single day. The only work I have been able to find in the past 15 months was an 8-day temp assignment in February of this year, and that was only because my agency felt sorry for me and threw me something so I could have a little extra money. However, that ended up cutting my unemployment checks because here in the State of Illinois, you cannot earn more than 50% of your weekly benefit amount or they will cut your check dollar for dollar over that amount.
I started working when I was 10 years old because I was staying with my grandmother for the summer and she got tired of me whining about how bored I was – so she started taking me to work at the local truck stop with her. That meant getting up before 5:00 a.m. so we could be there by 6:00 a.m. Since there was even less for a small girl to do there, I ended up working in the kitchen with my grandmother and aunt. I started out by washing dishes and ended the summer by running the grill – all very dangerous occupations for a child, but I had a time card and got paid for my work which I thought was the greatest thing ever.
My parents got divorced when I was 12 years old and my family ended up living on welfare and food stamps because my father did not pay his court-ordered child support, and that was never enough to actually support the family anyway. So I started mowing lawns, babysitting and delivering newspapers to make extra money to contribute to the household expenses. I have been self-supporting since I was 14 years old: I paid rent to my mother so she would have enough money for our housing, food and other expenses, bought almost all of my own clothing and paid for my own high school education expenses. As soon as I could, I got a “real” job working in an ice cream store and then at McDonalds. In all of the intervening years, I have worked in many jobs in many industries, including assignments through temporary agencies. I did not get a college degree, even from my local community college, because I could not work full time and go to school full time. I know some people have that kind of stamina, but I just did not and felt that it was a waste of any grant or scholarship money to try when I didn’t know what type of degree I would eventually be working toward. At that time, a college degree was not necessary to succeed in America.
I have been unemployed several times over the last 25 years with the last time being just after 9/11. Every single time I was able to find another job quickly; and usually at a higher salary than the one before. However, this economy is nothing like any other time in my history – not even in 2001 when things were so uncertain.
In my last permanent job, my salary started out at $37,500 and by the time I was laid off in 2009, had increased to just over $55,000 with bonuses and overtime. That was about $4,500 – $4,600 per month gross pay. Since I was laid off, my gross monthly salary has been $1,640 with the extra $25 per week the federal government adds to my state’s maximum weekly benefit amount. That’s a heck of a lot of money to lose all at once, and it’s even harder trying to live in the Chicago area on this new, lower amount. I couldn’t live on that in 1995, much less now when the cost of living has gone up so dramatically. I do not have taxes deducted from my unemployment check because I need every dollar just to survive. When tax time comes around next year, I have no idea how I’m going to pay the taxes that are due from these unemployment checks. I’m not sure if everyone in Congress is aware of this, but except for the first $2,400 of unemployment, we have to pay state and federal income taxes on the money – and I’m not sure if that small amount is deductible every year or just for the 2009 tax year.
I bought my first house in 2007 because my elderly mother was no longer able to live by herself, and my brother that had been living with her was moving to a different state to move in with his girlfriend. I ended up getting a fully-documented predatory mortgage loan from GMAC Mortgage with a total monthly payment of just over $2,000 and experienced financial issues almost immediately after moving in. I had to borrow half of my 401k balance for household expenses in the fall of 2008. I received a generous severance package from my previous employer and cashed out the other half of my 401k by March, 2009, so I would have money to continue paying the mortgage and other bills, about $13,000 net total between the two. I received very little help from my mother, less than a third of the actual household expenses the entire time she lived with me even though she had promised to pay for half of those expenses. It became increasingly clear as the year wore on that a new job was not going to be forthcoming and I would not be able to continue paying for everything. I applied for a mortgage modification in July 2009, only to be told in August 2009, that I did not “make” enough money on unemployment to qualify for help under the HAMP program and that GMAC didn’t have any other programs to offer me. My mother decided that she had had enough of living with me and moved in with my brother in Georgia last August, so I lost the little amount of money she had been contributing toward the household expenses. She also left town owing me over $12,000 for her share of the unpaid expenses during her time living with me. The last mortgage payment I was able to make was in September 2009 and I am now in foreclosure. My attorney charges me a monthly fee to fight that, and while it seems promising so far, there is no guarantee that I will not lose the house.
Because I am a single person, I do not qualify for welfare, food stamps or help paying my utilities. I’m not even sure I would be able to go to a food bank because I “make” too much money on unemployment to qualify for help. I was able to keep my health insurance this time due to the COBRA subsidy, and I am thankful for that, but that benefit lasts a maximum of 18 months and my expiration date is July 15th. After that, I have no idea how I am going to pay for medical care or buy the medication I take every day. I have two prescriptions and if I continue to receive unemployment benefits, I could possibly afford one medication because it’s less than $50, but the other one is over $500 without insurance.
I do not have friends or family who are in a position to help me financially. My aunt has generously offered me her basement to stay in for a short period of time if needed, but she lives across the state in an area that has a higher unemployment rate than where I currently live, so that’s not really going to be much help for me. I also do not have the money to hire movers or pay for a storage unit for my possessions.
My cat’s medication and care is not horribly expensive, but I do have to pay for that out of my pocket. While I realize that she is just a pet, to me she is like a child since I do not have any human children. I go hungry if she needs care or food and I’m terrified that I will become homeless due to this situation and have to make the horrific decision on whether to kill her or try to keep her with no place to live and no money for food. We all hear about how bad this economy and situation is for families, but family pets are the untold story. They don’t understand that their people have lost their jobs and can’t afford food or housing. All they know is that they end up in a shelter waiting to be killed if no one adopts them, left on their own in a foreclosed house with maybe a bag of food put on the floor for them and the hope that someone will find them before they die of starvation or thirst or prematurely put to sleep because their owner was compassionate enough to not subject them to the other terrible options available. I know that these pets are wondering why their people stopped loving them and taking care of them. Animals may not think like humans do, but they are sentient beings with feelings and it is up to us humans to care for them.
As for credit cards, thankfully mine do not have high credit limits, actually less than $10,000. That is mainly due to having to file for bankruptcy in 2002 because of being unemployed after 9/11. However, due to my current situation, all of the balances are close to the limits. With the stricter bankruptcy laws that were passed several years ago, I’m not sure if I would qualify to file today. As long as I continue to receive unemployment benefits until I can find another job, I am still able to make those payments along with my other household expenses and with the exception of the mortgage. I don’t have extra money, but am thankful I can pay most of my bills.
I would also like to share a conversation that I had with a local Carol Stream small business owner a few months ago. In March, that last week just before the Healthcare Bill vote, I treated myself to a meal at a local fast food restaurant. I know the owner well enough to discuss politics and what Congress is doing, or not doing, at any given time. He was very distressed by the possible passage of the bill and told me that he had had the opportunity to open a second store but had decided not to do so because he was afraid that his expenses would rise dramatically if he was forced to offer health insurance to every employee or pay a fine for not doing so. He was also concerned about the signals that Congress had been sending regarding energy and illegal immigration legislation, among other things. Due to that fear and insecurity, there are now about 100 jobs that will not be created here in Carol Stream. I can imagine that decision being made by millions of small business owners across this country, in addition to large corporations. How many millions of jobs will not be created and how many is it going to take for Congress to wake up and see what is truly happening in this country right now?
So that’s my story, now what can Congress do to help me and all of the other long-term unemployed?
- Continue unemployment benefits until such time as the national unemployment rate is below 6% – with no threshold limits in any state.
- As it stands now, we are several years away from creating enough jobs to give every person who wants to work the chance to do so. I’ve had one interview in all this time and was turned down for the job. I missed out on even getting an interview in December 2009 because the company had received over 400 resumes in 2-3 days by just posting an ad on Craig’s List and in a couple of their LinkedIn profiles – and I missed out on that by 3 hours! I have done nothing wrong and now I’m hearing that employers are starting to discriminate against the unemployed by adding a line to their job postings saying that the unemployed need not apply. How am I supposed to find a new job with the deck stacked against me?
- Raise the maximum benefit limit in areas where the cost of living is dramatically higher than in other areas.
- While unemployment is not meant to replace your lost income, it’s cruel to force people to choose between housing, food and other expenses. In a time of high unemployment, we need to show that we care about every citizen of this country, not just the privileged few.
- Offer money and resources to return to school for more than a training certificate or associates degree along with living expenses as long as the person stays in school and gets their Bachelor’s degree.
- All of the experts say that higher education is the way to succeed in this country, but the cost is prohibitively expensive for the average person and there is not enough grant or scholarship money for everyone. We also should not make people choose between education and having to make a living to survive.
- Create new laws that assess severe penalties to companies who knowingly choose to send our jobs out of the country.
- I’ve heard for years that America is now a service-based economy – but service jobs tend to pay very low salaries and are not enough to create or maintain the middle class, much less the working poor. Especially in high-cost areas like Chicago or New York or Los Angeles.
- Stop bailing out Wall Street!
- They don’t need it, they don’t appreciate the sacrifice the taxpayers are making on their behalf and they certainly don’t matter more than Main Street. We cannot continue to fund two unneeded, unnecessary wars, send money to any country that has a natural or man-made disaster such as Haiti and Greece when we cannot be bothered to take care of our own citizens and make sure they can stay afloat and survive during this very stressful time so that they too can recover and go on to become successful again. I saw today that President Obama has promised $400 million in aid to Palestine – this for a territory where it has been well-documented that they do not need help, humanitarian or otherwise and at a time when that money could be used to help pay for unemployment benefits for quite some time. What message are we sending to the rest of the world when we send money and aid to everyone except ourselves? There is a reason you are supposed to put on your air mask first when the plane is in trouble, you cannot help anyone else if you are in trouble too!
- Place a moratorium on all foreclosures where the homeowner has been unemployed for a certain length of time – and make it mandatory that all of the banks, brokers and servicers comply.
- There are too many people who are being kicked out of their homes, some of whom have lived there for decades, because of the economy and the greed that Wall Street used in helping mortgage companies create exotic and no-doc loans. Not one person should lose their home for this reason. In fact, if the original “wet ink” loan document and note cannot be produced, the bank, broker or servicer should have to give the house to the owner and absorb the monetary loss – without passing that cost along to investors. That may be the only way they will learn not to tank our economy!
- Create a jobs bill that will actually create jobs for the masses, not just the specialized industries of construction, healthcare or green energy.
- Not everyone has the skills, can work in or is interested in working in those sectors of the labor market. Millions of lost jobs are not in any of those sectors either. Employers are not going to start adding workers just because the government says they should. They need to see that they are not going to be taxed to death and then they will start revving up our economic engine again.
There currently is no more American Dream for millions of people. Due to high unemployment, too many people fighting for each job and a Congress who is more interested in fighting with each other and getting re-elected, is it any wonder that the average citizen feels like they have no voice and do not matter to the people they elected to do their business?
As for deficit spending, many studies have shown that for every $1 paid out in unemployment benefits, over $1.60 is returned immediately to our faltering economy. Without that money, people will not be able to buy goods and services in their local economies, thus giving those businesses no choice but to start laying off their employees or raising their prices to try and compensate for the lack of business.
It is a fallacy to say that unemployment extensions make people lazy at this time. Who would willingly choose to lose 2/3 of their income just to stay home on the dole? No one I know that is unemployed wants to be there and they work harder at trying to find a new job than most people who are lucky enough to still be working do at keeping theirs. And we resent that characterization put forth by the misguided people in this country that do not understand the actual facts on the ground that we face every minute of every day. And to those who continue to spout that nonsense, I have to ask if you even know anyone who is unemployed for any length of time – or even talked to someone in that situation while truly listening to what they have to say about it? That’s what Congress should be doing to help the most desperate and neediest of our citizens right now, today!
It is an ever downward spiraling descent into extreme poverty and going from a First World nation and leader of the free world into becoming a Third World nation. Which one would you choose?
From R.M. in WA:
To: Chairman McDermott, Ways and Means Committee
The Hearing on Responding to Long-Term Unemployment
I just want to Thank You, for addressing this important issue. As a person who has been unemployed for over Twenty-Six months, this is very important to me.And considering that the benefits I receive are used for living expenses such as rent, utilities, phone, food, gasoline and travel expenses for my job search, I think this issue is important to my community and the general economy of our country.
My 99 weeks ran out on March 1st, 2010. Since then we’ve been slowly losing the little things like our credit rating, our furniture, the last of which will be our washer and dryer. We have two older vehicles one that needs about $700.00 for repair, so I can’t drive it. The other is on the verge of breaking down, but its 25 years old and we’ve gotten a lot use out of it. So as you can see we’re not living high on the hog, just getting by. By getting another extension of benefits we could get a few household items back, some car repair done and maybe enough to carry us to the next crisis. And speaking of the next crisis, we need to bring back some of those jobs that have been shipped out in exchange for those tax breaks given to American companies. We need to get back to being a manufacturing nation, instead of the service nation we have become.
I also think it would be a good idea if the states were made to allow people on unemployment insurance to go to school to get the training needed to compete in the present job market. As it is someone like me (56 years old with only a GED) needs some kind of training. Here in Washington State, if I wanted to attend any kind of school, which I’ve tried to do, I would be denied benefits. Even online training puts my benefits a risk, this is foolish. I’ve read about the Jobs Bill but what about a Jobs Training Bill? And like I said, this training needs to be Federally Mandated, because here in Washington State getting any training is like pulling teeth. Any help in these areas would be greatly appreciated.
If the President and Congress can send billions of dollars to Greece, Haiti, Israel, Iraq and Afghanistan etc, some of which is earmarked specifically for unemployed people in those countries, we the American Long-Term Unemployed should be able to get some much needed help.
Thanks again for considering our emergency situation.
From J.G. in WI:
Dear Committee Members:
My position as an IT Systems Manager was eliminated in January of 2008, and I am among the growing number of long term unemployed who have exhausted all available weeks of unemployment benefits. In addition to sixteen years experience as an IT professional, I have a PhD and am a published author of scientific research, and I was an award winning teacher at a major university. However, after submitting hundreds of applications in the nearly two and a half years since I was laid off, I can count the number of interviews that I have received on a single hand. This has been nothing less than devastating: my savings are gone, I have amassed a tremendous credit debt, I am living on food stamps, and I am receiving health care from my state.
Unfortunately, with only about one available job for every six jobless Americans (not including the very long-term unemployed, who have fallen out of the statistics) there is simply very little hope of finding work for highly qualified baby boomers like myself (I’m 52 years old). We are often considered to be over qualified for lower paid positions and a fight risk for somewhat higher paying ones… and at the same time these kinds of positions have all but replaced many of the positions that more closely match our qualifications. In the IT world, for example, there has been a shift in job openings toward internships and entry level positions for new college graduates, as companies try to minimize the amount they spend on wages and benefits. Combine this with the fact that employment agencies are now indicating that their clients will not hire anyone who has been unemployed for a long period of time, and there is very little hope indeed for the nearly seven million long-term jobless Americans in general, much less baby boomers who, like myself, have reached the point of exhausting all available benefits.
And now we who, through no fault of our own, have suffered the most from this recession, are, in effect, being thrown under the bus. We have pleaded with Congress, the Senate, and the President to please add a Tier 5 or more weeks of benefits to Tier 4, for all states, so that fewer of us will end up on the streets and starving. This is literally a matter of life and death for us, and we are incensed beyond words by Speaker Nancy Pelosi for laughing at the long-term unemployed, along with her audience of reporters, over our phone calls, faxes, and emails begging for help.
We are equally incensed by arguments against adding more weeks of benefits over concerns about the deficit. Where was the concern in instituting two unfunded wars, or multi-trillions of dollars in bank bailouts, or unfunded trillion dollar Bush tax cuts… and how can you possibly justify paying down deficit on the backs of those who have suffered most in this recession, many of which have quite literally lost everything, or are on the verge of doing so?
Moreover, adding weeks simply makes good economic sense, as the as has been pointed out by renowned economists such as Nobel laureate Paul Krugman. Unemployment benefits are simulative to the economy, because virtually every cent that is received gets spent in short order on basic necessities. Indeed, Mark Zandi of ecomomy.com estimates that the simulative effect is about $1.73 for every dollar spent. Keeping our lifeline going helps keep our local economies afloat, and gives those of us who still have one, a fighting chance to hold on to our homes.
Adding more weeks, for all states, is simply the right thing to do. Please do the right thing. Please don’t throw us under the bus.
From J.B. in MA:
Dear Chairman McDermott and honorable committee members.
I respectfully urge you to consider extending unemployment benefits for as long as possible for 2010.
I have been unemployed since November 2008 and have no prospects for employment.
I worked as an IT manager for a company for 30 years who moved our production facility over seas and has outsourced IT support to now be handled by the corporate facility in Tulsa OK. Our company once employed 130 and now is reduced to 35 through what is called a reduction in force program.
In an effort to see employment and to make myself more employable I have taken the following steps to enhance my chances of success.
– Attended UMass Lowell College using my own money to finish my degree
– Attended Valley Works unemployment center seeking help in my jobs search
– Registered with an employment agency in Boston
– Registered with an employment agency in my home to of Acton
– Assisted in the development of a networking support group with my Church, Acton Congregational
– Posted my resume at several job seeking websites
– Networking through Classmates.com
– Networking through LinkedIn
– Sent emails to all of my friends and former business associates asking for help
As a result of these efforts for the last 19 months, I receive few responses form online submissions and the few I do receive seem to have eliminated the jobs posting or have found the posting to expire. I have done extensive job searching through USAJOBS.COM hoping to land a government job. Many of the positions require very specific talents or require a security clearance which one cannot acquire on their own.
Having to also pay for my health insurance which is required by law is depleting our savings. We are now taking the steps that we have feared for several months now by listing our house for sale in an effort to make ends meet. I am 54 years old and have worked hard all of my life and have never been out of a job. It’s very difficult to look into my wife’s and daughter’s eyes and tell them that I’m doing everything I can to find work, but to no avail.
Please help me and others like me who are hard working honest Americans trying to do the best we can. I know how great this country is and I’m confident that things will turn around but folks like me need help.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
From K.S. in IL:
I have been unemployed for over 2 years. Prior to my being laid off, I was a Project Manager on a research project at the University of Chicago. I am college educated and have 15+ years professional experience in program management in public health. I have applied to over 450 jobs, possibly more, but I have stopped counting.
I have exhausted the 99 weeks of unemployment insurance, which I had been greatly appreciative of, even though it was significantly less than what I used to make, it still was a life line for me in paying my rent, paying my utilities, and buying food.
My benefits expired in March of this year, and since then, friends and family have loaned me money and I have applied for food stamps. Though I greatly appreciate their generosity, it can’t go on forever and if I don’t get some sort of job soon – like within the month – I will have to give up my apartment, as I won’t be able to afford it.
Never in my life have I had to contemplate such a thing. I didn’t make a fortune as a project manager, but I did make enough to support myself. I live in a studio apt., don’t own a car, have used furniture, but all that was fine, because I could support myself. Now I don’t sleep well at night, wondering what I will do.
I have applied for temporary jobs, but was recently told by one firm that because I have been unemployed for so long, that the temp firm’s clients wouldn’t be interested in me as a potential employee because they only want people whose work experience has occurred in the last 6 months.
When I asked them how this policy could possibly be seen as congruent with the needs of so many unemployed people given the recession, I got no answer. It is beyond infuriating. With over 15 years of professional experience, apparently I am not qualified enough to be a file clerk.
Additionally, as another example of how tough it is – I have signed up with some organizations to send me email alerts when jobs that I might be qualified for, occur with their company. I received one several days ago, went to apply, and their website said the job was no longer available.
When I inquired with the HR dept. why I was getting these seemingly conflicting messages, the rep explained to me that because the economy is so bad, and they get so many resumes, that they will remove jobs from the website as open because they can only handle so many resumes and they just get too many for one job.
To say that I am aggravated, frustrated and scared is an understatement. And contrary to what I guess some think, I am not lazy, nor was I lazing around, ‘enjoying’ being on unemployment.
Due to the length of my joblessness, I have lost approximately $30,000 in income that I could have been using to pay off bills or more importantly, saving for retirement. On unemployment, I was living on about $1000 less a month – and since I have been unemployed for over 2 years, that’s where that figure comes from.
I am one of the 99ers. Please help. We are not lazy, nor wanting to live off the government. We are intelligent, professional, hardworking people just trying to make it through a tremendously difficult time.
Thank you for your time and consideration of my concerns.
From H.B. in WA:
I am 58 years old, married, and an unemployed IT (Information Technology) professional and sole bread winner.
I have been unemployed since August 2006.
During the first six months of unemployment, I was targeting my job applications toward positions that were
good fits for my 17 year backgound and $77,500 annual salary requirements. After hundreds of submissions,
I did not get one response for even a pre-screening interview.
In spring 2007, I began broadening my search to include jobs that paid less (around $50-60,000 annually).
I received two phone responses, but it turned out my experience was not a “good fit” for the positions.
In fall 2007, I lowered my expectations even more (around $30-40,000 annually).
I received one phone response which resulted in no interview due to being “over qualified”.
In January 2008, I lowered my expectations to ANY minimum wage (or greater) job.
To this date (after 2 ½ years) and after a couple of thousand more job applications, still no job!
My Tier 4 unemployment benefits ran out in March 2010.
Since then, we have almost depleted our savings trying to make ends meet.
Next month (July 2010), we will begin selling our belongings to pay rent, buy food, and keep the lights and heat on.
By fall 2010, we will become homeless unless a Tier 5 of unemployment benefits is added.
Please help us by adding another tier that will hold us until the employment picture gets better!
From B.W. in MA:
I am writing because I did everything right and yet I will loose everything because of big bank greed and the inaction of politicians. I got married and bought a home in 1998. We had our first daughter in 2000. We had our second daughter in 2004. I worked hard to get my journeyman electrician license, master electrician license, and construction supervisor’s license. On top of the licenses, I continually attend many classes and seminars. I continue to achieve more certifications to further my career as an electrician.
We made a home for our family in W., MA because we thought it was a great place to raise our daughters. After refinancing our home a few times, continually lowering the interest rate and lowering the number of years left to pay, we started to put an addition on the home. This was supposed to be where we could spend the rest of our lives.
This all changed drastically over 2 years ago when I was let go from my electrical job. I had good reviews and was constantly learning to make myself more valuable to the company. Unfortunately, this will always be a part of the construction business. I had been laid off before and usually able to find another position within a week or two. This time it was different.
I applied to companies just as I had done in the past, but there were not as many opportunities as previously. The few companies who were hiring preferred to hire inexperienced electricians so that they would not have to pay a decent salary. If I was able to get an interview with these companies, I would make it clear that having a job was more important than how much I was making. This did not matter because they all felt when I had a better opportunity come along, I would leave. I was never given a chance and the companies had plenty of applicants to choose from. It was very depressing to hear time and time again that my experience and desire to become a better electrician was hurting my chance to find a job.
After it was clear, standard electrical employment was not in my near future, I started to learn as much as possible about solar PV systems. I felt this would give me the best opportunity to find a new job. Unfortunately all of the solar PV companies were again looking for inexperienced electricians so that they could pay a lower salary. In Massachusetts you are required to have an electrical license to install solar PV systems and this is all that these new companies were interested in, a cheap license.
Since working for a solar PV company was not looking like a good possibility, I started looking at starting my own company. The insurance requirements would cost at least an additional $1000 on top of what I already pay for my general liability. I would need to get this insurance with no guarantee of getting jobs. Also, the process to install solar PV with state rebates usually takes months to get through all of the paper work. The rebate authority also requires that you can not do more than 1 project at a time. This means if I was lucky I might be able to do 2 projects in one year. This is not enough to live on much less try to build a business. If you do not have a lot of money to start with, or another way of making a living, getting into this renewable energy market is very tough. The government agencies that control how solar PV systems are installed are adding employees and making it tougher for people to get into the market. Is this the way capitalism works?
My current financial position is very unique. There is too much equity in our home to just walk away. Also, over the last 2 years my family has struggled to keep our mortgage current. My daughters are being deprived of a normal childhood because every penny we have goes toward bills. Both myself and my wife have credit scores around 800 and are in danger of losing that rating. We use to believe in the American dream. Now we realize we have no control over our dream and it has now become the American nightmare. At some point I will have to explain to my daughters how the system works, big business will always be more important than hard working people.
The unemployment that I received up till a couple of months ago was not enough to live off of. Since I started receiving those benefits, our family had to cut out ALL discretional spending and we still fell behind financially every month. The unemployment helped pay for the mortgage, utilities, and food. The unemployment prevented credit card balances from getting maxed out.
To hear statements that people should be able to get a new job within two years is unjustified. I know the national average for construction unemployment is over 20%. I know every time someone like myself runs out of benefits, I am no longer counted as being unemployed. That is showing an inaccurate number for unemployment. I have seen overall unemployment numbers realistically around 15%. Politicians don’t like to consider these numbers because there is no official documentation to support it, like someone unable to receive benefits. This is why it is very important for politicians to listen to the people.
To hear statements that some people are worried about the deficit are unjustified. No one cared about the deficit when GM or the big banks got bailed out. Both of them are back on their feet and yet the people they caused to loose jobs are suffering more now than ever.
In addition to the mortgage and utility expenses we have other necessary expenses. I had a GM dealership take advantage of me and charge me thousands of dollars to fix a problem, I found out later, was suppose to be paid for by GM under a class action law suite. The dealership knew about the law suite and yet never made me aware of the reimbursement that should have taken place. When I asked GM directly to be reimbursed, I was told no. When I took my information to the attorney general, I was told there were not enough complaints against the dealership for them to do anything. So my only recourse is to NEVER buy another GM product. This is the gratitude for getting bailed out with my tax dollars.
Another expense that will continue due to necessity is my industry related training. Recently I attended a class on solar PV installation at a local community college. This was not free. Over a year ago, I spent all day at a seminar in another state to learn about solar PV installations. This was not free. Most recently I sat for and passed a test for a certification of knowledge for solar PV. This was not free. These are examples of learning I do in addition to the countless hours on the internet researching all of the latest technology. The access to the internet is not free.
So the overall effects of receiving no unemployment will be devastating to my family. I know there are people in worse situations than my own. Financially we are falling further behind every month. If I got a job tomorrow, it would take at least 5 years to recover from the amount of debt we have accumulated. Every day without a job it gets exponentially worse. We will need to sell our home and have no where to live. If we do not sell, we will loose all equity when it eventually gets foreclosed on. Also, if we fall behind on the mortgage payments, our credit history, that we have worked our whole life to maintain, will be destroyed. This will affect our chance of ever owning a home again. Our credit cards will get to the point where even minimum payments will not be able to be made. Bankruptcy may then be the only option. The hopeless feeling is very depressing!
I have heard that mortgage modification would help our situation. That is another fantasy. I tried to modify my mortgage over a year ago. I had continually told my mortgage company I was struggling to pay the mortgage and wasn’t sure how much longer I would be able to pay it. After many months of telling the mortgage company of my situation, they finally sent the paper work to fill out, which took days to do. After filling out the paper work, getting all of the documentation together, and waiting months for a response, my mortgage was sold. When I contacted the new company, I was told to fill out all of the paper work again and all documentation was out dated. I sent in all current documentation and filled out all paper work again. I was told I would need something from unemployment stating I would receive those benefits for at least 9 months. This was an outrage. Anyone with experience dealing with unemployment benefits knows this request is impossible to produce. I sent in a letter stating my situation and waited. Finally I received a letter stating I did not qualify for the HAMP program, but I could fill out more paper work and send in more current documentation and the mortgage company could see what other options were available.
This was insane to see after giving the mortgage company all of my information; they wanted me to give it to them again. There were no guarantees, only more delays for the inevitable. We will eventually loose our home one way or another. The amount of paper work required was consuming a massive amount of time and resolved nothing. The first mortgage company knew we were in trouble and sold our mortgage to a debt collector, not a mortgage company willing to help. NO ONE wants to help us stay in our home and I believe we are not alone. I believe there are more Americans who will loose their homes due to the government’s inaction and lack of being in touch with the people who vote for them.
When I look at who the government chooses to help, it is DISGRACEFUL AND SHAMEFUL. GM, who built vehicles with substandard quality and screwed me out of thousands of dollars, gets all of the money they need to keep their operation in business. They appreciated so much; they refused to take care of a problem with my vehicle that was a direct result of them using parts of substandard quality. The foreign countries that have needs above what their country can support. We have been in a war on foreign soil for more than 2 years and yet the government cuts off the help for its own citizens after 2 years. How can this be justified? Most of the people without a job, by no fault of their own, for more than 2 years have worked hard their whole life. When these people need their government the most, they are ignored. Finally, the big banks that caused all of the problems; an unheard of amount of money spent to bail out the greediest people on the planet. They can’t spend the amount of money they make on a daily basis and yet they received more in one lump sum bail out than I will see in a lifetime of working hard.
Anyone reading this letter should understand; I am one of millions of people who have had enough. It is one thing for the government to be continually ineffective and wasting taxpayer money, it has been taken to the next level because now you are determining the fate of too many citizens of this country. The people who have been out of work for more than 2 years are not looking for a hand out; we are simply looking for an opportunity to support our families. This opportunity was taken away from us when the greediest people on the planet forced the economy in a free fall. MAKE THESE PEOPLE PAY FOR THE EXTENSIONS ON UNEMPLOYMENT!!
Investors of real estate showing their greed are going to bring down what is left of the housing market. People, who can afford to make the payments on their homes, are now simply walking away and considering it a bad investment. These people own properties, some multiple properties, which they are continuing to collect rent money and choose not to pay the mortgage. We will start to see those foreclosures popping up and affecting the values in the rest of the neighborhoods. This will also make it tougher for hard working people to get loans because the banks will be showing more losses. Again capitalism and greed at its best!
I am hopeful the right person or group of people see this letter and understand there are real people in trouble. There are people who never in their life imagined they could be so desperate. Even though a number of factors have caused this to happen, only a few have the opportunity to help the people in serious need. I know there are a lot of people in a worse situation than me and my family; however I never thought it would be possible for us to loose everything. Thanks to the narrow minded politicians, devastation is a common household word for too many Americans.
So here is the long term outlook on what is happening through the government’s ignorance. The homeless rate will be going up to levels not seen since the Great Depression. There will be more personal debt than ever seen in history just from people trying to survive. The amount of discretionary income will continue to drop as people try to get out of debt. House values will plummet even worse than the last downturn since more people can not afford their reasonable mortgages and others just walking away. Voters will be the angriest this country has ever seen. All current politicians will be voted out of office.
Please visit Rochester Unemployment Examiner to review unemployment information, data and details that you don’t find in the main stream media. You can also add comments about your current situation and what you think needs ot be done to improve the job market and unemployment benefits system. I hope to see you there.
*Due to issues such as software compatibility, the letters posted here may contain some minor formatting edits to improve readability.
“Managing (Right) the First Time” by David C. Baker is a book that delves into the core principles of managing that you will need to follow to get it right the first time. The author notes, “if you are a first-time manager who wants to get it right out of the gate, or a long-time manager who wants to get it right for the first time, this book is for you.”
The material from the book comes from the author’s many years experiences as an employee, a business manager, a business owner, a parent and a management issues speaker. Each chapter is filled with management advice that is sure to be of interest to anyone who is trying to improve their management skills:
- Chapter 1 talks about who managers are and how you become one in real life.
- Chapter 6 explains that there are not just two kinds of managers (good managers and bad managers), but in fact three kinds: evil managers, those who are managing, and those who are not managing.
- Chapter 11 is perhaps the fulcrum of the book in that it compiles the most important individual elements of managing employees well.
- Chapter 16 explains the different styles of managing.
- Chapter 20 shares a unique perspective on work/life balance so that your role is sustainable over time.