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 , I need to create multiple posts.
The House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support is held a hearing 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 to have published here.* 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 A.L. in FL:
HELP! – 99ers Need TIER 5 TO SURVIVE
I have been actively searching for work for over a year. I have sent out over 400 resumes and have been interviewed a total of 9 times. At these interviews I always ask, how many others are being considered for this position? The answer has never been less than 18. Three times, after going through the interview process the job was frozen or canceled.
I am presently working for the Census. This will end on June 27th and then I will once again have no income. There have not been any new listings on any of my job search sights in over three weeks. I keep hearing about new jobs. Where are they?
Last April, my benefits hit the 99th week. At that point I had no income, my savings are completely exhausted and I am in great fear of losing my first house – which I was finally able to purchase only two years ago. I put $50,000.00 down on an $80,000.00 house – it is insane that I cannot afford my mortgage payments. Government programs are of no help to me – since I have no other debt and no dependents. I have done everything ‘right’ all my life and there appears to be no aid for people like me.
There are NO jobs. Not part time, full time or temporary in southwest Florida.
Tier Five needs to be put in place ASAP and last for a minimum of 20 weeks or until jobs begin to appear again. All the unemployed need your support to add Tier 5 to unemployment benefits.
From M.N. in AL:
Dear Chairman McDermott:
My name is M.N. I wrote you on June 07, 2010 via email.
I thought I was on my tier 4, but apparently I was drawing the rest of my HEB benefits in Alabama. I received my final Payment notice today in the mail. My question is what do I do now? I have been unemployed since June 15, 2008. I had two more weeks on my HEB, but can not even finish drawing that because the Senate will not pass the bill the House has already passed.
I have a 6 year old son and a 6 year old grandson that resides at my residence. What do I tell them? Oh, we don’t have electricity because Mommy/Grand Mommy can’t find a job in this economy. We may be on the streets in a couple of months because I can’t pay the mortgage that I have paid for almost 20 years now.
I can’t get a loan because my credit is shot from all of this. I love them dearly as I know you love your family. I am not embarrased to say I am crying while I write this letter. I do not know what our future is. If it were just me it would be different, but I have those two little boys that count on me.
If I would have been able to keep up my life insurance policy premiums, they might would have had a chance in this cruel world. I don’t even have that to offer them. I have nothing to offer them at this point.
I have already sold everything that had any value except my television, because I believe they deserve to at least be able to have that entertainment. I’ve kept my computer to be able to to file my unemployment and for information, but I guess those things will be next, if I can find a ride to the pawn shop. You see my car just blew a head gasket and I don’t have the money to fix it. So, I have been getting rides from who ever I can to seek work and buy groceries.
I draw food stamps, but if I don’t have a address I won’t even get that. Welfare is only $187.00 a month here. That won’t even touch my mortgage much less my utilities.
I am 46 years old, I never thought my older years would be like this. NEVER! I thought this would be a time that I would be able to enjoy the American Dream I have worked so hard for.
This Country is based on GOD! I refuse to blame him like alot of other people are doing. This is SATAN’S work not GOD’s.
This may be the last letter I get to write. It depends on when they will cut off my internet or how fast I will have to sell my computer. I realize you are trying to help and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for that! May God bless you and yours!
From N.G. in TN:
Date: June 10, 2010
Open letter on Tier 5 Unemployment to Congress and the President
RE: Hearing on Responding to Long-Term Unemployment
I have now been unemployed since December 2007 when the company I worked for went bankrupt, putting a great many people out of a job. I had been employed there for close to 10 years. Having searched for other jobs, I realize I am handicapped now by my age (now 67), and that, even though I am willing and able, none of the companies I applied to seemed to be ‘willing and able’ to hire me.
Our jobs are gone.
In some cases, our homes are gone.
In other cases, our families are gone, split up by the lack of money with which to hold body and soul (and family) together.
In too many cases, all hope is gone for a decent recovery from our long term unemployment crisis.
We are told to ‘sit on the back burner’, ‘don’t rock the boat’, and ‘go find a job, any job’.
There is no shame in ‘flipping burgers at MickeyD’s” but neither is there enough wage to pay the rent or mortgage, along with necessary utilities.
No money to dress children as they need to be dressed in order to send them to school.
No money to feed those same children as they deserve to be fed.
Wholesome and well thought out meals have long ago flown out the window along with our savings, any thought of improvement to our situation no longer enters our dreams at night.
What dreams, you may ask? Those dreams each of us in this great country should be able to have:
1). dreams of a free America,
2). dreams of a supportive America,
3). dreams of an equal-for everyone America,
4.) dreams of a pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps America.
It is, however, rather difficult to “pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstrap’s” when:
A.) you have no boots,
B.) you have no inkling of how to get any boots
C). you wouldn’t know what to do with said boots, even if you had them
What is the answer to this dilemma, you ask? Now, if I knew the answer to that question, I would now be richer than Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, combined. And, more famous, than, say, Elvis.
What the answer is NOT, however, I can tell you, should you care enough to ask. And, should you care enough to listen.
The answer is NOT to cut off unemployment benefits to the thousands, yea, millions, of unemployed workers who are depending on their own government of the “We, the people”, “One Nation Under God” United States of America, to see them through this national catastrophe of unimagined, historic, unequaled lack of jobs in a time of recession such as has not been seen since my own mother, herself, was but a young, married woman, starting a family with my dad in the early 1930’s in this country.
The answer is NOT to sit in a position of power, in our Congress or Presidental offices, and be glib about those who are out of work, through no fault of their own.
The answer is NOT to say, “OK, we will take care of SOME of these of the unemployed, but the rest of them – the long-term unemployed – will have to wait from June until November before we will address the issue of whether they may live or die”.
The answer is NOT to say, “Oh, but we must FIRST balance the budget before we see that you are fed”.
What to do? What to do?
Each individual, plus friends, family and any who are affected by this national unemployment crisis: Call, write, email to your Congressman, Senator, President, Vice President, Speaker of the House, etc. Let your own views be known.
We, the People, are not too proud to ask for help, when help is sorely needed.
From J.P. in FL:
Honorable Senate Committee:
I have worked hard, played by all the “rules”—like saving for a “rainy day”—but at the age of 60, I have lost everything! Gone are my 401(k) s, company retirement, savings, emergency savings, stocks and bonds—everything! I was laid off, due to no fault of my own, on February 15, 2008. Since that time, I have applied for hundreds of jobs. I averaged sending out 3 resumes per day. (I have records to prove this statement).
My profession for the last 15 years has been in the Information Technology field. Until 2008, it was a very lucrative field. I progressed from systems analyst to Vice President over the years. I’ve worked as both a full-time employee and as a consultant/contractor for such corporations as: General Motors, Sprint, AT&T, Wachovia Bank, CSX transportation, General Dynamics, Honeywell Space & Strategic Avionics, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cap Gemini and several others.
In an effort to find work, I offered my services to companies at less than ½ of the six-digit income I’ve had. I even applied to service companies for minimum large jobs. Always I was told “you are over qualified” or “you’ll leave as soon as the economy returns” and so forth.
Things are now desperate. If it were not for the graciousness of my ex-wife, I would be a homeless person. I’ve received the maximum amount of unemployment and am currently receiving $200.00 per month from Food Stamps.
I’ve seen US companies out-source jobs to specialized companies both here in the US and especially overseas. It’s ironic. It seems that the companies where I’ve worked, for the last 10 years, have brought in more and more foreign workers to do American jobs. These jobs do not lack skilled Americans. But some of the companies bring over foreign workers on special work visas and pay them half of the regular salary. They put 3 or 4 foreign workers in two-bedroom apartments.
Now, at 60 years old, I –who at times was either affluent or in the upper-middle class – have nothing! I worked my way through college, receiving United Defense loans, and academic scholarships. (My parents who began as share croppers in Alabama moved to Michigan and made a better life for themselves, but were not able to help with college.)
.Now, I’ve worked hard—very hard—and well for many years. In the last 10 years I’ve averaged between 55 and 60 hours per week. Now I feel like the old saying: “I’ve been rode hard, put up wet, and put out to pasture”. I cannot afford Cobra. So you can guess what’s happening in my life medically.
I’ve tried to find assistance to upgrade my already superb skills by getting a Masters Degree. But Pell Grants are only for those who do not have a Bachelors degree.
How can Congress finance 2 wars, the rebuilding of Iraq and Afghanistan, assist Haiti (which I whole-heartedly endorse), bail out Wall Street and failing companies like General Motors, whose CEOs received obscene compensation for failing, but NOT have compassion for those who have exhausted their unemployment? Many of us honest and hard-working Americans have exhausted all Tiers of unemployment benefits (Tiers 1 through 4). We urgently need a Tier 5 that extends through 2010.
So, I plead with you to extend unemployment benefits for those who want to work, have always worked, but are unemployed due to no fault of their own. Without help, the future looks bleak!
Respectfully but Desperately Yours
From G.C. in OH:
I am writing in support of those of us who have been unemployed more than six months.
On October 2, 2009 I was laid off for the first time in my working life, spanning 39 years. Having been a tax paying contributing citizen, it is deeply disturbing to me that myself and millions like me seem to have been forgotten, or treated as castoffs. What I mean by this is, I do not want to be unemployed, I want to go back to work more than I can adequately express in words.
Sometimes I feel so alone, almost as if I were a ghost no one can see. It’s as if the President and Congress don’t care, yet we spend billions on wars, but can’t find a solution for all of us who want to go back to work. I cannot imagine what the people, and their families, who have been out of work for 99 or more weeks must be going through. I urge you not to forget about us for we are all still out here, we still very much want to contribute!!
Now before anyone writes me off as someone who wants to stay on unemployment benefits, let me assure you that nothing could be further from the truth. I am active in three different local job search workshop groups, networking with people and I apply daily for positions, sometimes 4-5 per day. I believe I have a right to find gainful employment and it is very frustrating to be looked upon otherwise.
From C.Z. in NJ:
s is written to express my feelings on continuing the emergency federal unemployment program.
My story is just like many. I am a single woman, 58 years of age and have been unemployed since November, 2008. On May 31, 2010, in addition to the many other hardships of being unemployed, I have just lost my health insurance coverage. I do not know why I should be surprised or upset, due to the fact that I have already lost my home to foreclosure and have exhausted nearly all of my savings just to survive. I had to relocate to Warren County, New Jersey from Union County, New Jersey due to the change in my circumstances. I cannot secure employment. I was advised by someone in NJ Unemployment to “hide my age” by not listing 30+ years on one particular job. I have applied to every listing for legal secretary, administrative assistant, clerk, clerical worker, salesgirl, etc. that has been posted on each and every website within my area. I also attempted to secure gainful employment before I was forced out of my home in Union County. I exhausted my retirement/savings account rather than turning to the government for welfare. I have never collected any public assistance, but I guess my time has come. In addition, because I had to use my retirement monies to survive, the IRS is assessing huge penalties on me something in excess of $4,500+, they have only gotten that far as of yet, penalties may be higher. Amazing!!!!!!! Apparently, the IRS does not think that I used the money for hardship purposes. I guess not having a job nor a place to live does not count either. But, all in all, at least I had the funds at the time to exhaust — never realizing that I could have been just like the others who relied on the government to support them. Now that I need to have unemployment extended for emergency reasons, I must suffer.
I am (or was) a legal secretary with several years of experience (30+ years). I have attempted to get a job with the State, but was denied employment. I have attempted to secure employment within a municipality but was denied employment. I have applied to jobs that are more than one-half less than what I was earning. I search for a job each and every day and even on the days when I am told “to give it a rest” by family members who are concerned for my health and well being.
I have worked all of my life (since age 17). I, along with millions, need this extra measure of support as I endeavor to obtain employment. Without this, we have no means of support. Where do people in my age bracket go? Too young not to work but too old to work????? What about the younger people who have children to feed and house? Where do they go? I describe myself as frightened and scared. How do these other people with families to feed and house describe themselves?
There is money for everything else, such as wars, tax cuts, bank bailouts and numerous other things but nothing for the people that have worked all of their lives and really need support. We must not be abandoned.
From J.V. in CT:
Dear Committee Members:
RE: Hearing on Responding to Long-Term Unemployment
This week is my anniversary, though it’s not a celebratory event. Instead, it marks the time when two years ago this week, I was let go, downsized from my job of 20+ years.
I started at that company when I was young, in my 20s. I am now 51 years old.
During my unemployment, I’ve continued to hone my skills by taking online classes (both paid and through Department of Labor), upgrading my computer software and I even went back to school at night and earned my web design certification.
I have applied to well over 200 jobs for which I believed I was qualified, or at least qualified enough to be called in to interview. Some jobs were within my field, and most paid way less than I had been making, and a number of them paid just above minimum wage.
The majority of my resumes were never acknowledged; those that were, never went past the receipt acknowledgement. A number of my fellow unemployed, in and out of my field, report the same experience.
Is it age discrimination? Is it unemployment discrimination? Is it the fact that there are still millions of “us” looking and just so many jobs? I don’t know the answer.
I only know that I have worked since I was 14. I know that I’ve never, in my lifetime, been unemployed this long.
My husband and I refinanced the house. That allows us to stay in our house where we’ve raised our daughter and made our home. He pays for it all now with his paycheck alone.
However, I know that my unemployment benefits have been the only thing to allow our family to continue to live semi-normally: I’m talking food on the table, my daughter’s school activities (like 10.00 field trips, mind you, nothing major), and things like co-pays for “select” doctor and dentist visits. We now have to put a number of medical things on the backburner and cannot take care of some needs. Don’t even talk about car or house repairs or vet bills, etc.
My unemployment will run out shortly. I’ve been giving myself pep talks since I lost my job, but I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that I really am depressed and it’s getting so much harder to try and keep the faith.
From W.G.Jr. in NY:
Dear Ladies & Gentlemen:
I W. G. Jr., native born American and Veteran of the USMC Vietnam Era have been unemployed over 99 weeks and my unemployment benefit have stopped. Senior Mortgage Loan Processor was my Occupation for the last 10 years. After applying for any type office job since May, 2008 when my Mortgage Banker downsized, I remain unemployed.
New York City remains at 9.9% unemployment and I am 63 years old. However with all the younger people out of work, I have been given a low priority by The American Companies. I am in good shape and intended to work till 80+. How can American Companies outsource any job with Americans out of work, then the USA imports heavily, lead based toys from China, then borrows heavily from China because they are the Country that’s progressing. How can we have a global economy if our local economy is down. What good is NAFTA to me, I can’t afford to buy anything without employment. I have a wife & 2 daughters that started College. We are on the road to Destitution and losing the American Dream we worked for all our lives. I never thought this would happen to us as Americans.
Please help all of us and restore our unemployment benefit till we find employment. Please create good jobs & bring back our exported jobs, its Patriotic.
Thank You, W.G. Jr.
At your service
From R.C. in WA:
To Whom it may Concern:
My name is R.C., and I am a long term unemployed citizen. I have 18 years of management experience with three of those years being executive management experience (meaning District Manager or above titles in a company). I have applied every day to positions from customer service, sales, training, management and even executive management. After all of my interviews the most common answer I do receive is for the none management positions, that I am too over qualified and for executive management they want more years of experience. In the store manager roles, some of them as well I get told too over qualified. I look every day for positions and apply to all that are available that I have any background in. I have not declined a job offer, none has been offered. I moved in 2008 from California to AZ thinking that the job market was better, with my 401k. I had not one job offer in AZ. My family moved me from AZ to WA, just in January, I have had the most interviews here so far, I have went to five but not a job offer either. I am married, with two children, my husband just a week ago got a full time job. He was not employed thru this time either, he also was actively daily looking for employment.
My unemployment ended the end of February. A little over a year ago, I did lose my car with just the unemployment it did not pay all the bills and the car payment. I am fortunate that my family can assist me for now so we are not homeless. For many with unemployment ended this is not the case.
I do not understand why there is not enough communication to the unemployed. We have hope that the government will extend benefits, but there should be very direct communication to the public, with good news or bad news. With little communication, it seems a huge lack of urgency in the US Government, the perception this creates to the general public is not positive. Getting state assistance in many states there is a very long wait for section eight homes and benefits sometimes are not given immediately, people have to wait, with zero income coming in. How do they feed their families.
I would appreciate a more sense of urgency, more communication. About this matter. In all my management experience, companies demanded urgency with important matters, with this effecting millions of American Citizens, I think we can request a more sense of urgency and more direct communication for this complicated matter.
Thank you for your time
From S.W. in MN:
Dear Mr. McDermott,
As a U. S. citizen I have worked and paid taxes all my life. In 2001 I was laid off of my job and had to struggle to keep my house, pay my bills and find another job. In 2002 I found a few part time jobs and finally in 2003 was back to full time work. It took me 3 years to pay off debts and get to zero again.
In August 2008 I was laid off of a job I held for 5 years because of the economic crash and the worries of a bail-out. I have been looking for a job for 1 and 3/4 years to no avail. I have had a few interviews but in several cases they decided not to fill the position. I have received unemployment checks until June 6th 2010. Now they say I have run out and will receive no more. Unemployment is what I use to pay my mortgage, utilities and buy food.
A Tier 5 or beyond is definitely needed to keep millions of Americans from losing their homes and going broke. From the reading I have done unemployment benefits stimulate the economy and we need that. If you need a way to pay for it stop the wars, stop the bail-outs to foolish bankers.
We need a Tier 5 and we need support to companies who hire and keep jobs in the United States. Companies who out-source should receive financial penalties if they expect to operate in this country.
Please act as a true representative of the vast majority of unemployed and working Americans. We need unemployment and real jobs not empty phrases about change. My father a World War II veteran told me about the 1st depression and how hard it was on families. We thought we had laws in place to prevent Wall Street from doing this to us again but those laws were slowly eliminated until here we are again. Re-enact Glass Steagall and keep the bankers from ruining this country.
From C.D. in CA:
Dear Committee Members,
I am writing to urge you to create a new Tier V federal extension of unemployment benefits or to extend the existing Tier V. I am extremely concerned as H.R. 4213 does not provide for an extension of benefits for the long-term unemployed who have exhausted their ninety-nine weeks of benefits.
I am one of those long-term unemployed; after working in the same position for the University of California, San Diego for sixteen years, my contract was simply not renewed—through no fault of my own. I was four years away from a full retirement. I am also a woman in my mid-fifties–one of the least desirable and employable categories in a state (California) with record high unemployment. Although I have a Master’s degree and over twenty years of teaching and administrative experience in university writing education, there are almost no jobs in my area and teachers are receiving pink slips even as I write this.
I, and others in my situation, desperately need your help. I have lived frugally on unemployment insurance, retirement savings, and regular savings while diligently looking for a job. If it wasn’t for the generosity of my family, I would very likely be homeless or living in my car, assuming I still had a car.
I come from a working-class background, learned how to work hard, and put myself through both undergraduate and graduate school. I have been a dedicated teacher, parent, and citizen. I have worked since I was a girl, and have always had a job until recently. In short, I have played by the rules, but now find that the rules don’t apply to me.
It is humiliating and degrading to find myself in this position, when I should be saving for retirement and helping my daughter through college. Instead, I (and others in my position) am the butt of jokes about how lazy and greedy I am for not working at jobs that don’t exist. I have written to almost every member of Congress, but only Dick Durbin bothered to reply. What I hear in the media from other leaders is that ninety-nine weeks is enough and I should be happy they are trying to create jobs; that sad sort of assurance doesn’t keep a roof over my head or buy my groceries.
Our government has funded two wars, bailed out Wall Street, and rescued the automakers; we are even providing bail out money to Greece, a country where workers can retire at fifty years of age! Certainly we cannot turn our backs on hard-working Americans who find themselves without jobs even though they desperately want to work. Please support a new tier of unemployment benefits to sustain those of us who are still looking for jobs and waiting for jobs to be created.
From M.D. in CA:
Chairman, Ways and Means Committee
I am one of the 9.9 % of the United States population who is unemployed and I have reached my limit of 99 weeks of unemployment compensation benefits. I am terrified and I don’t know where to turn. I have no money to pay my rent or my bills.
I need your help; I need the House and the Senate to provide additional Tier 5 emergency unemployment benefits.
Even though the US economy is beginning to show signs of recovery, the employment picture remains bleak. I have applied for literally thousands of jobs and the very few replies that I have received have led to only rejection and no work. I am not lazy, I want to work. If I get behind on my bills, I will have bad credit and that will make it even harder to find a job. I fear I will soon be on the streets without more unemployment benefits, I have no money to pay my rent. Please help me and the many Americans who depend on emergency UC benefits as our lifeline to survival. Now is not the time to cut these essential benefits that I paid into for over 25 years. I have never been so scared and unsure of my future.
We need Tier 5 unemployment benefits now, please don’t forget about us.
I am begging you to add Tier 5 emergency UC benefits. I am asking for your compassion and consideration; it is the right thing to do.
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.