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 D.W. in NY:

Dear Senator McDermott:

Hello, my name is DW, a life-long resident of New York State.

In April of 2007 I was involuntarily separated from Eastman Kodak Company due to down-sizing in Rochester, New York.

My husband retired from A.T.& T. in 2002 and is now on a fixed income. I needed to be employed as my income from Eastman Kodak immensely contributed to our household expenses.

Since becoming unemployed we now rely on my husband’s pension check from A.T.& T., which we receive once a month. We have many obligations, including our mortgage payment, all utilities, heating oil, car payment, plus gasoline and maintenance. Not too long ago we had two vehicles, but had to take one off the road because the cost of having two vehicles was too great.

Grocery shopping has become a joke. We try to keep basic staples in the house. Once a month we do a shop that hopefully will hold us over for another two to three weeks. Not to leave out the fact that my husband has a chronic heart condition, and his prescription costs are outrageous! He is on long-term disability and not able to work. I sometimes wonder how we manage to squeak by each month.

When I initially was “let go” from Kodak I was sure I would be able to secure a job easily. I soon found out that this would not be the case. I sent out so many resumes that I eventually lost count, at the least maybe over 250 or more. I used every avenue I had available to me.

I eventually managed to snag three interviews through this nerve-wracking process. Nice “little chats”, “short tours” of their work areas and always the promise that they would get back to me one way or the other. I always sent a follow-up letter thanking them for the interview, and “touched base” two to three times after that. I waited and hoped with my fingers crossed. I NEVER RECEIVED ONE RESPONSE! I sent e-mails to some of these would be employers and was blatantly ignored! Would be employers do credit checks now and I am sure this put a hold on any chance of me being hired. I could go on and on! This has been one of the worst periods in my life. Very, very disheartening.

I received my last unemployment check week ending April 4, 2010. I definitely appreciated the extra boost that my unemployment benefits provided to keep our household afloat.

I continue to search for work but I am not getting very far. I sometimes wonder if I am being discriminated against because of my small stature (not very strong) age and a low credit score. It certainly is starting to feel that way! I know that jobs are few and far between. If there are jobs out there, none are coming my way!

Something needs to be done, I need help, like so many others who are out there struggling to keep their heads above water. The most appropriate word for all us “99’ers is DESPERATE! I can only hope that someone out there will hear us this time!

If I am lucky enough to receive further unemployment benefits until the end of this year I may be able to secure a retail position during the holiday season.

Thank you so very much Senator McDermott for letting me pour my heart out. I am praying my hopes will not be dashed again!





From T.E. in OH:

My name is T.E. and I have been unemployed since January 25, 2008. Since then, I could count how many responses to my applications/resumes on both hands, much less an interview.

I am a single mom, who has all but depleted my 401k and my pension that I had to rollover to where I could withdraw funds to keep food on the table and a roof over my daughter’s head. Exhausting my unemployment insurance of 99 weeks has been devastating. Hearing members of my elected government state that 99 weeks should be sufficient, that people like me are “deadbeats” and “lazy” are horrid people. Not all unemployed people choose to be. FYI … The “deadbeats” didn’t just mysteriously appear the past couple of years! We’ve been supporting them for years. We are the one who put you in office. We are the ones who pay your salaries. We are the ones whose backs this country rests upon.

It’s humiliating to go to family services to ask for help when you are used to providing for yourself, and then to have those of you who are not in touch with reality say that I just don’t want to work. It wasn’t my fault you allowed the banks to go hog wild lending or that jobs were allowed to go overseas so we could help the economy in other countries.

You worry about the deficit. You say we should worry about our children “tomorrow.” That’s hard to do when you are barely surviving today. The loss of our retirement, savings, and 401k should be sufficient evidence that worrying about tomorrow is a crap shoot. Tomorrow may never come. If an earthquake happened in Chile, India or China, I bet millions would be sent immediately…no vote…no question. We would not only provide for rescue, but for rebuilding. How about helping US? You remember US? YOUR CITIZENS…THE ONES WHO HOLD YOU ACCOUNTABLE????? You kick us to the curb like a stray dog.

When you go to dinner tonight, think of those at the free store. When you pull in your drive, think of those whose home has a foreclosure notice on the door. When you go to bed, think of those who sleep in a shelter. THEN, AND ONLY THEN SAY WE ARE MILKING THE SYSTEM.


From L.A. in CA:

Dear Committee on the Ways and Means,

I am a 99er and have been out of work since August of 2007. I lost my job from Countrywide Home Loans after going home to Texas to attend to my Father’s final illness and death at age 92. With Father’s day coming up he would be honored to know I am standing up for my rights to work and live the wonderful American Dream that we all want to achieve. As a Veteran of WWII my Father was in the service for our Country and the survival of our way of life, that all of you in Washington enjoy today. People knew how to serve one another and pull together as a nation in those days. No wonder they are called the Greatest Generation. Don’t let our Generation fall into the cracks and that becomes our legacy.

My benefits ended beginning of April 2010. I have applied for countless numbers of jobs. Hundreds and hundreds times, I have sent my resume and had very few responses. I have been on only 4 or 5 interviews and have no luck getting hired. I am as single female and have no one else to fall back on for support. My Mother is age 88 thank God she’s still alive, and fighting cancer, and crippling scoliosis. So I am involved with taking care of her as well as searching for work. So it stresses her everyday that I am earnestly looking for work. And having 30 yrs of work experience seems to be more of a hindrance than helpful. I spent approx. 25yrs in the Film Industry in So. California, Los Angeles. And have had no luck returning. It is very frustrating and I have knots in my stomach wondering how I will pay my bills. We all have a heartbreaking story to tell, which are increasing in severity and numbers each and every day that goes by with no extended benefits passed to help us survive.

Older workers (myself) are passed over for younger less experienced and cheaper priced workers. Also passed over for jobs are workers who have been out of work the longest amount of time. I have signed up with numerous temp agencies, but have found me nothing and say they are getting very few calls for work per week. But are continually bombarded by job seekers. I don’t know how I will continue to pay for my rent if I don’t have a TIER 5 or EXTENDED BENEFITS. I will become homeless once my Retirement savings is all gone. Remember that for every $1.00 of UI benefits received, we put back $1.90 into the economy. So with No JOBS & NO BENEFITS Millions of Americans are suffering.

I don’t think my Father would understand this new America that he cherished and served so bravely to protect. This new America where you work hard all your life and do the right thing only to see your made redundant on the job, suddenly your out of work and everything you worked for disappear and crumble away before your eyes. Yet where Bankers and Wall-Streeters can be bailed out with our tax money and rewarded with high salaries and obscenely huge bonuses. As for the Long-Term Unemployed workers, we are left in the abyss to climb out for ourselves.

We call on you Chairman McDermott and the Subcommittee to help end our suffering and see the plight of the Unemployed today! We need you to call for a new Stimulus package to prevent a Double Dip Recession from occurring as your economists are telling you. Please as well, add weeks of EU benefits until June 2011 for THE LONG TERM UNEMPLOYED WORKERS. Our prayers are always with you. God bless and keep each of you.


From G.M. in AZ:

To Whom It May Concern:

Just a little over two years ago I was felt my world was moving happily along. I was achieving some of my long term dreams and had hopeful plans for my future. I was in a new career after having been a homemaker and part time teacher. I was in my second year of what I thought was a secure job with Wells Fargo in their boarding services mortgage department. I had just been given a promotion and was on track to becoming a loan processor on my way to working as an underwriter. My 23 year old son had a stable job with Discover Card and was in college part time. My 29 year old daughter had a solid, well paying job as an executive administrative assistant and had moved back home to save money for a house of her own.

Then the bottom fell out. Instead of saving for her own home my daughter is now paying for mine, she is helping me to keep it and not become homeless. This happened through no fault of my own but all because of the bad decisions of the people in charge. I lost my “secure” job along with 60 other co-workers on December 13, 2007 and even though I have gone back to school to reeducate myself in administrative assistant work, I still cannot find even temp work. After my 3 month severance ran out I signed up for unemployment. A year later I signed up for food stamps. I have no health coverage.

On March 30th, I received my last unemployment check. All I have now is food stamps. You can’t live on food stamps. Now I am told to magically make a job appear out of nowhere. Why did the unemployment money stop? Has the unemployment rate gone down? Nope. Have jobs become more available? Nope. Then why isn’t my government willing to help me the way it has helped the big banks, big car manufactures and other countries for crying out loud? I don’t know.

I do know this. Once I was thriving, now I am sinking deep. I got hit with a big blow, losing both my job and career choice, and now while I am down and barely making ends meet with my $240 a week, I get kicked again. The ending of Tier 4 unemployment payments is the last straw for me and my family. Now in order to keep me afloat my daughter is going into debt. I have had to ask my son for help and he is barely making ends meet with work and college. Where once we were getting by we are now sinking, and it’s not one who is sinking but three. Think about this Congress. If you don’t come forward and do the right thing by us “99’ers” and keep unemployment coming until there are jobs to be had, you take down others and create more of the poverty and debt for America you say you don’t want.

Help us!! Please!! Keep unemployment going until the rate goes down and there are jobs to be had. I look for work every day. I network. I am even trying to make money doing hobbies. I need a real income and hope for my future and the future of my children. Help us please!!


From B.M in WA:

I have been unemployed since December 31, 2008. I received notice on November 21, 2008 that my job would be going away. Since that date, I have been working full time just looking for work. Prior to my last day on the job, I knew I would no longer be able to afford my home on little to no income. I fought for my home. I was able to get a loan modification through my mortgage company at that time in February 2009. I signed my final modification documents in April 2010, only to learn that 2 days later my loan was sold to another mortgage company. This NEW company is now requiring me to start the entire modification process over again. Biggest problem (besides not having a job with steady income) is that my current benefits will be exhausted on July 10, 2010. This means when the new mortgage company does their income verification, I will not have any and the year and a half I fought to KEEP my home will be for nothing – only to lose my home and scramble while STILL looking for work and raising my two kids on my own.

I called my unemployment office in Olympia, WA less than 2 weeks ago and I was told that my benefits will expire on July 10 because I still have a balance as of May 22. I asked what happens after that and I was told I would be done. No more extensions, no more help. Sorry. But come July 10, I’m screwed!

I work harder than ANYONE I know to find full time work. Washington State requires me to make three (3) job contacts a week. THREE! If you’re only doing 3, you’re not trying! I average 6-10 applications/submissions a week for employment. I also belong to 2 networking groups in my area. One meets bi-monthly and the other meets monthly. Both groups have helped me get to know people in my community and connect me to people who know people. When I apply for a job, I send out a notice to both my networking groups asking if anyone knows anyone there and some basic information. In addition to that, I use social networking online to try to get myself in the door of my next employer. LinkedIn.com and Facebook are my most common sites I use. For example, I will find someone in the company I just applied for, find them on LinkedIn and introduce myself.

I was appalled to read the quote by a Senator that said, “99 weeks is sufficient enough.” WOW!! This coming from a man with a job, doesn’t have to pay the household bills, buy food, buy gas for transportation, pay for clothes for the kids, etc. like “real world” people out here.

If I don’t get help with Tier 5, I will once again fight not to lose my home and lose this time. My kids will starve, we’ll be homeless, I’ll lose my vehicle, and all my possessions. I don’t have family to fall back on, no savings, no other money accounts as I’ve lived paycheck to paycheck for most of my life. My mother is unemployed and trying to get disability for her medical conditions that prevent her from working. She’s living on her savings and has been for the last year.

If we can afford to pay for everything else this country has going on, why don’t the unemployed who work their asses off looking for work get the help we need?

I work TOO hard to find a job to be told that I don’t NEED anymore help. WHAT??????!!?!?!?!?!

Maybe something should be done like, checking job logs of the unemployed and see who’s actually EARNING their benefits. Like me! I know some who only do the bare minimum and they piss me off. I need a job! I want a job! I just need more time to make ends meet and GET that job!

Not passing Tier 5 will be a HUGE MISTAKE! Millions of Americans will suffer, find themselves at the end of their rope, starve to death, lose even MORE homes and who’s going to be to blame? Washington! We take better care of aliens coming to this country than we do our own born and raised “family” of Americans.

Please do something….

Respectfully and scared for the near future,

From K.H. in PA:

Title of Hearing: Hearing on Responding to Long-Term Unemployment

Dear Congressional Committee:

My story is a long one. I am 42 years old and have worked since I graduated from high school in the year of 1985. When I graduated I would have liked to go on to further my education, but because of family financial problems I could not. I started working at TRACO at the age of 17 in 1985 and continued to work there until the year of 1999. I left because I found a better job that paid more and was less physically demanding on my body.

I worked for Asten Johonson, which is a forming fabric manufacturer. In 2006 the company told us that they were closing our plant and moving operations to China. I was devastated, as was my family too. I was making a good income for manufacturing, $40,000 + a year. It was great, we had 3 of our 4 children heading to college and we thought we were doing financially well. My husband works at TRACO as a glass manager and also makes a good salary of $50,000 + a year. We THOUGHT we were doing financially well. My last day at Asten Johnson was the day before Thanksgiving in 2006.

I was lost and I didn’t know what to do. I had NEVER in my whole life of working collected unemployment. I signed up. A good friend of mine that was laid off before me took advantage of the TRA to get a good education and with her help I decided that this too was what I wanted to do. At 40 years of age I graduated with an associate degree in Computer Information. Throughout the entire 2 years that I was going to college I maintained a 4.0 and was on the President’s list ALL 4 semesters! After I graduated I would have liked to have gone on to get my bachelor’s degree but I was reluctant to put my family that much in debt. So in May of 2009, I set out to find a job.

It is now June of 2010 and I have yet to find a job. My husband took a 25% pay cut in November of 2009 and my unemployment ran out in April. I am one of the 99ers. In the last few years I have watched both of our 401 k accounts diminish to almost nothing because of this economy so even if we do pull out of this recession, we will have no retirement money left. We have practically drained our savings accounts and are barely getting by on what he makes. Our youngest daughter graduated from high school this past week and I’m wondering how we are going to help her with college. I’m wondering if we’ll make our mortgage payments, I’m wondering how our government can abandon us like this.

How did my family go from a $100, 000 + (gross) a year to under $40, 000???? Who is going to take responsibility for this? People are losing their homes, their cars, their lives…..It’s a very depressing situation. Every day I send out resumes and applications. Sometimes I get calls, sometimes I get interviews, but never a job. I don’t know if it is because of my age, or maybe because I worked in manufacturing all of my life and now I’m trying to get a job in computers.

Our money is running out. Little by little our lives are being destroyed. Our jobs have been lost because of no fault of our own. Our government out sourced our jobs to other countries…..but what they didn’t realize was they weren’t just out sourcing our jobs, they were out sourcing our lives, our families, and our financial futures. Please do whatever you can to help us get another tier of unemployment so that we may continue to keep our homes, and maybe part of our lives until this economy gets better and there are more jobs available to us. Thank you for taking the time to read my story.

From J.A. in MD:

Re : Hearing to respond to long term unemployment
I was laid off as a Security Manager as part of The Hertz Corps’ corporate downsizing in Feb 2007.
I then lost my apartment after I went through the unemployment benefits and my 401K. I moved into my vehicle, which was impounded due to no insurance or registration, both of which I obviously couldn’t afford. This resulted in my setting up a tent near an old landfill site in Baltimore County. It should be noted that all through this horrendous ordeal, I have walked to the County Library to search the internet for employment on a daily basis however I suspect that my age (52) may be playing a factor in my job search.
Aside from the fact that I do not have proper facilities, in which to bathe and launder my clothes, for any possible interviews, which are non-existent.  The current count for resumes that I have submitted is somewhere in the neighborhood of 750 plus. I strongly urge favorable consideration be given to a TIER 5 Extension. Thank you for this opportunity to relay this.

From G.B. in KY:

Regarding: Hearing on Responding to Long-Term Unemployment

Congressman McDermott,

I wish to submit a written statement for inclusion in the Subcommittee hearing record.

I live in Northern Kentucky, adjacent to Cincinnati, Ohio. I am single and currently unemployed.

In June, 2006, I completed and was awarded a Doctorate of Education in Instructional Design and Instructional Technology from the College of Education and Human Services at the University of Cincinnati.

Through my doctorate, I had trained to teach college teachers how to incorporate technology into their teaching, to provide support for their efforts and to myself teach instructional design and technology classes at the university level.

I lost my job in August of 2008, through no fault of my own. At that time, I was working as a technology coordinator for the College of Education at Northern Kentucky University in Highland Heights, KY.

Though the current economic crisis did not have a direct bearing on losing my job, it has had a very direct bearing on my subsequent attempts to find employment in my field of Instructional Design and Instructional Technology in Higher Education.

In October of 2008, an instructional designer position was advertised at a nearby private college. I was told that the position had been unfilled since late 2007, due to budget difficulties that the private college experienced. The college subsequently made a decision to delay filling the position until the summer of 2009. In the spring of 2009, I interviewed for the position, but was not hired for it.

In January of 2009, I applied for an instructional designer position at the University of Cincinnati. In February, I had a screening interview for the position. The hiring manager told me that I was exactly what they were looking for, given my unique doctoral work and background. However around that same time, the State of Ohio underwent a severe budget crisis. The budget crisis was passed down to many agencies, including public universities. The University of Cincinnati made a decision to not fill any open positions. I wondered whether that applied to the position that I had applied for. Finally in August of 2009, I received official notification that the position had been cancelled.

In January of 2010, I was contacted by a friend who worked at the Clermont College Campus of the University of Cincinnati. She told me that the college was looking for an instructional designer and would I be interested. I stayed in touch with her, but she eventually informed me that a new dean at the college had postponed the position, apparently due to budgetary considerations.

These were the types positions for which I had specifically trained, but they weren’t the only ones I had applied for. Among other positions, the local Kentucky community college advertised training positions for electronic medical records (in support of the President’s electronic medical records initiatives), but I did not qualify for those

I should also note that the State of Kentucky has gone through recent budget shortfalls; those have also resulted in budget cuts at Kentucky public (state supported) universities.

I worry about my future employment prospects. I try to keep up with current trends in the field. But after awhile, potential employers are going to look at me and say “he’s been out of work and out of the field for too long. He’ll never be able to catch up. Let’s hire someone who hasn’t been out of work as long for as he has.”

I currently keep busy with unpaid volunteer work for the Cincinnati Museum Center, conducting research into local history, and providing consulting on evaluating their educational programs. I dare say that I would be interested in doing this for the Museum on a paid basis. But they have also been hit by their own budget crisis, resulting in job cuts and increased reliance on volunteer help.

A number of circumstances relevant to the economic crisis have had a direct bearing on my subsequent attempts to find employment.

In May of 2008, I refinanced my house in order to address some of the debt that I had acquired while working on my doctorate. This had the effect of “resetting” my mortgage and transferring equity to pay off the aforementioned debt. At the time that I did this, I assumed that I would remain employed. My mortgage is a conventional mortgage, so at least I don’t face any severe mortgage provisions, as long as I make my monthly payments. That’s at least one bright spot.

Another bright spot was that in October, 2008, I began receiving unemployment compensation. Thanks in large part to the various extensions, I continued to receive unemployment compensation until mid-April, 2010, when those payments ceased.

I also had some savings, now depleted; credit cards, and an IRA retirement account. I have used the credit cards to pay for necessities such as food and gas for the car. I suddenly find myself in debt again, similar to that which I had before I refinanced my house. I have also been forced to make withdrawals from my IRA account. In case you aren’t aware, the federal government charges me a ten percent (10%) penalty for any amount that I withdraw.

I also have no health insurance. In spite of the COBRA subsidy that was passed, it did not help with my health insurance. The type of policy that I had in place prior to losing my job was a bare-bones policy. I ended up finding that I gave a lot of money to the insurance company and received little adequate coverage in return.

My primary physician has been very helpful and supportive, giving me sample medications as needed, keeping my office visit rates manageable, and supplying documentation so that I can get certain higher priced medications from pharmaceutical assistance foundations.

On the other hand, I require a colonoscopy every two years to check the status of my Crohn’s disease and to screen for colon cancer. As I have no insurance, I cannot afford to pay for the colonoscopy. I am one year overdue for a colonoscopy.

I am home most of the time. I continue to find things to do around the house to keep me occupied. However, I don’t relish continuing doing this. I hate not being productive and not contributing to the educational needs of my community. Sitting around has a definite negative impact on my well-being. I have tended to avoid my neighbors, since their question upon seeing me is invariably “have you found a job yet?” Nearly two years of continually hearing that question is enough to drive me up the wall.

For the past year or more, I have been faced with a quandary. Do I try to stay put and ride this crisis out? Or do I give up the house and try to find a job somewhere in another state?

Here are the concerns that impact that decision:

  1. Other houses in the neighborhood have been on the market unsold for eight to twelve months.
  2. When those houses finally sold, they sold for below their original value (I can verify this through the local online county property valuation office).
  3. If I move to another state, and cannot sell my house, I face foreclosure, personal financial crisis and potential bankruptcy.
  4. If I more to another state, and can sell my house, but at below its current value, I still face personal financial crisis and potential bankruptcy.
  5. What happens if I move to anther state to take a job, and six months later, that state faces a budget crisis, resulting in me losing that job?
  6. I stay unemployed for now, and continue to stay in my house, paying for it with money from my retirement account. This only postpones the inevitable. At the very least, it means that I will have to work longer until retirement, and after retirement face a reduced income and circumstances because I depleted my retirement early.
  7. Or do I say put and try to ride this out.

It seems like each of these options creates chaos for me; the only choice seems to be that I can choose the degree of chaos that I prefer. At least any chaos only impacts me, and not any family members.

Unemployment benefits have been instrumental in continuing to support myself through this period of time. It has helped pay my mortgage, college loan debt, utilities, and minimum payments on my credit card. I would have lost everything if it had not been for the continued unemployment and its extensions. But I will also remind you that these payments ceased in mind-April.

However, certain voices in the country seem to say that I would prefer to not work, sit at home and collect unemployment insurance. That can’t be farther from the truth, at least for me. I suppose that I could go find a temporary job, or some low wage job. But I’ll remind you that I possess a Doctorate in Education. Why would I want to waste that either sitting at home or performing some low paying job? I also found that I did receive more money (though still not enough to get by) from unemployment than I would from performing a low paying job.

I have worked in educational and related settings for most of my life. My dream has been to find ways to improve teaching through instructional technology. Fulfilling this dream has the impact of improving teaching by teachers and learning by students. Why would I want to let this dream lie fallow, all so that I could collect unemployment that doesn’t even meet all of my financial needs?

I do not live an extravagant lifestyle. My house is a simple house, by no means expensive or extravagant. Neither is my car.

I would challenge those who would accuse me of being lazy and taking the unemployment money. I would also take out my ire on the people in the financial industry who created this economic crisis in the first place through their avarice. They are the ones who are being lazy by taking government money and leaving none for the average citizen.

I am disappointed that Congress is not doing a better job of dealing with the needs of the average citizens. When those certain voices claim that they are worried more about the deficit than they are about people who are out of work, I am appalled that they actually exhibit an indifference to people who are really struggling. I can’t help but suspect that this so-called “concern” for the deficit actually masks an agenda that they won’t publicly discuss. Thirty years of tax cuts for the rich have only continued to strip our country to the bone in terms of taking care of all citizens – not just the rich ones. I also sense a certain hypocrisy in Congress for continually pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into two wars without worrying a budget deficit – but now worrying that extending unemployment will break the country.

A number of prominent columnists, including Paul Krugman and Bob Herbert of the New York Times have called for government programs, similar to those of the 1930’s to rebuild our nations crumbling infrastructure. Pennsylvania’s governor has advocated the same. I would add to that programs to rebuild public schools, provide newer and expanded funding for colleges and universities, and funding for improved teacher training at the primary, secondary and post-secondary levels. Finally, I would add money for every student who wants to get a college education.

Yes, we have been faced with a crisis that only someone of my father’s age has experienced before. Yet, we have the opportunity, as the country did then to make something better out of it. We can either let our county slide deeper into chaos, or we can use this opportunity to make ourselves something better.

I read a book this past year that offered some important insight into the economic issues that this country faces:

Wilkenson, Richard; Pickett, Kate. The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger. New York, Bloomsbury Press, 2009. (ISBN: 9781608190362)

Through a massive analysis of statistical evidence, they have shown that economic inequality in developed (first world) countries has a highly negative impact upon the lives of its citizens. Their statistical analysis shows that the United States is at the highest level of economic inequality, and thus has the most serious impact upon our quality of life. They relate this to quality of health, crime, drug abuse, obesity, mental illness, teenage pregnancy, high school dropouts, life span, and so on. What is also interesting is that economic inequality equally negatively impacts the well-off as well as the poor.

I thank you for the opportunity to enter my experience as well as my thoughts into the record. I hope and pray that we will find our best way out of this, and not just some way that benefits the few who have the power and the means to influence decisions in this country.


From R.S. in PA:

Good Afternoon;

I am writing to you in good faith with an extreme sense of urgency requesting you to please add a Tier V to the UCEB extensions.

I am a displaced (former) newspaper executive that was in the newspaper publishing business for over 33 years. I lost my job, through no fault of my own, on 09/28/2008 as a result of budget cuts/expense savings. In short, my position was eliminated.

I am currently 60 years old and have been unemployed since my displacement. I was informed that I may receive two more UCEB checks (I was on the Pa. UCEB mail-in program), but have not received them, as of yet.

I have very proactively conducted a nationwide search for employment, but to no avail. I fear that I am too old to be hired and too young to retire.

I have managed to pay my mortgage for June but without either gainful employment or further UCEB extensions; I fear that I will face foreclosure to my home. I have no savings, exhausted my retirement funds, sold my car and am selling personal possessions to stay current with my mortgage. I negotiated for over 15 months with my mortgage provider (Wells Fargo) in hopes of qualifying for HAMP, but was informed just recently that I did not qualify because I was unemployed. If they had acted more expediently; I would have had well over 9 months of unemployment compensation available as a guideline established by the Treasury Department last September.

I have not seen a Dr. or Dentist in almost two years and cannot afford to pay for COBRA.

I shall continue to work hard to find employment but am respectfully urging you to please make provisions to make available to all of us long term (older) unemployed Americans additional UCEB extensions, most specifically in the form of a Tier V. If our government can afford to spend money on wars and corporate (corrupt) bank bailout, then why can’t unemployed (formerly hard working tax paying) Americans be helped? We feel abandoned…PLEASE HELP US!!!

From D.A. in CA:

Chairman McDermott

I am responding to problem with unemployment. I have

Been unemployed since June 13, 2008. I worked in the Car Dealerships for 20 years. I loved my job. When I took vacations with some of my family, it was not a vacation. When I got back to work I felt I was on vacation. I loved my job in the Car Dealerships so much that when I worked it built energy in me, so that when I got home after 8 hours of work at the Car Dealership I still had energy to work at home.

I first became unemployed in Oct. 2006 when Ojai Ford in Ojai, Ca. was shut down by Ford Motor Company because it was a small Ford Dealer. I then went to work for Mel Clayton Ford in Santa Barbara, Ca. in Nov.2006 and was I let go buy Mel Clayton Ford in April 2007 because again Ford Motor Company shut Mel Clayton Ford down because it was not selling enough new Vehicles.

Then in July 2007 I went to work for Cars 101 in Oxnard Ca. I worked for them for a couple of weeks just to find out they were shutting down. Then in Oct. 2007 I went to work for Todey Chevrolet in Oxnard, Ca. I was let go there in June 2008 because Vehicle sales had slowed way down.

The Senators say we are lazy so they are removing our unemployment. We are not lazy as you can see from my jobs as Dealers closed their doors. The banks, Car companies, and other finance houses received bail out money from our tax money that we did not Ok. Wall Street and these companies are the reason we are out of jobs and we get called lazy. I went back to school taking classes on line while looking for work June 2009 and finished the class in Medical Billing in April 2010, because I knew I had to get into a line of work that I would not be losing because of shut downs, and now I am told I need to know Spanish to get in the Medical Office’s. This is not right our language is English, and people coming here should learn English not us being told I am sorry but you do not speak Spanish so we cannot use you. We do not enjoy not having jobs. We want to work; unemployment is not going to prepare us for retirement. The ones of us in our 50’s may not be able to retire thanks to Wall Street and the banks.

From T.M. in CA:

To Whom it May Concern:

I am a 99r, I never wanted to belong to this club, but here I am after 99 weeks and still unemployed. I am in the transportation industry and although we are “suppose to be” coming out of the recession, I find that there are no jobs yet in my field (I have also tried other fields) and in my area.

So you say, if there are jobs in other areas, why don’t you move, well let’s think about that for a moment. If I am lucky enough to find a position in another state, I can’t go work in that state, because that takes money. There are fees for re-licensing, there are cost to move, there are expenses in finding a new place to live, such as first, last and deposits. Without having an unemployment check, I am limited on where I can look to find employment and that goes back to there just not being any jobs in my area. Without my check, I don’t even have the money to put gas in my car to attend interviews. So tell me how do you really expect for people to find employment without the means to get to apply and interview.

I was not getting rich on my bi-monthly check, every cent is returned back to the economy in the means of paying bills, and purchasing bare necessities and when I say “bare” I mean “bare”. The ironic part about all of this is that the benefits we receive are taxable, so the federal government does see part of the funds back in the form of taxes.

I also have a concern, because they say that “Oh unemployment numbers have gone down” no they haven’t, where is the accounting for all of the people that have dropped off of the system, they haven’t all found jobs, they have just ran out of checks. How is the federal government accounting for all of us? We no longer receive any claim forms, and therefore we have been forgotten. I say that eventho we may not be eligible for benefits, you should still send out a modified form, simply asking are you still unemployed, let’s find out how many people have really found jobs and what the true unemployment numbers.. LET US BE COUNTED.. and Help the American People with a Tier 5 or further weeks added to Tier 4, people are dying out here.

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.

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17 Comments to “Tier 5 and extended unemployment benefits: letters to Congress from the long-term unemployed (Part 5)”

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  2. Kathy Judd says:

    Dear Sir
    My name as you can see is Kathy Judd. I have been out of work since 4/24/08. I worked for over 10 yrs with Johnson Controls. I loved it there! The plant closed down and went to Mexico. While we was waiting for the shut down we was asked to train some of the Mexicans to do our job, and I did so with pleasure. I do not by any means put any blame on Mexico for my losing my job. See Sirs I lost 2 other jobs before this plant closing to Mexico. I still carry no hard feeling toward anyone. I am to busy trying to get a job to carry hard feelings. Back to my job. I lost the JCI job in 05. I then went to school for almost 2 yrs which btw JCI pd for it. I then went to work for a small company by the name of Hitachi Cable. I worked there until April of 08 and then that plant closed down and went to Mexico. I am starting to think I am an Omen. LOL
    Sirs I am a 99er. I only draw a small amount of unemployment of 109.00 a wk. I do get the extra 25 a wk. I cherish that money. A person would think that I was getting a million dollars a wk. Now it is only my husband and I living here in our home. I do rescue dogs I infact have 12 and 4 horses right now. See when I worked for JCI I was making around 17 dollars an hr. Now here in Ky that is pretty decent money. I then went from 17 to 7.50 an hr. I did draw more than 3 hundred a wk when I lost my job at JCI but when I went to work at Hitachi I only worked a short time before it closed so that is why I was only able to draw the small amount that I did draw. I have put resumes in several places. I looked for jobs places that I really never thought that I would. Now its not that I am to good its just that I have never done anything but work in a sewing factory or work in the Auto business. I am 55 yrs young and not really in the best health . I do not have any health Ins and my husband is on diaablity. I can tell you that I feel so lucky compared to others. I should say Blessed. I beg of Congress to please Pass the Tier 5. I beg you to do this for the millions of us that are out of work. See Sirs it is not our fault that we have no jobs. I guess we could spend all day in playing the blame game but for myself I won’t do that. I do believe things are starting to turn around some but not enough as of yet. So Sirs please reconsider giving us the tier 5.

  3. Carla Davison says:

    To The Senate
    From CD in TN

    I am a single person that has been unemployed since Feburary 2009
    through no fault of my on. I have exhasted all my benefits including my EB benefits. I have filled out countless applications and interviewed for many, many jobs but ot no avail.
    I have not received any checks since June 5, 2010. I really need some assistance becaude i stand a chance to lose everything i own. Please help the American people before its too late.

  4. Carla Davison says:

    To The Senate
    From CD in TN

    I am a single person that has been unemployed since Feburary 2009
    through no fault of my own. I have exhasted all my benefits including my EB benefits. I have filled out countless applications and interviewed for many, many jobs but ot no avail.
    I have not received any checks since June 5, 2010. I really need some assistance because I stand a chance to lose everything
    I own. Please help the American people before its too late.

  5. R F Cole says:

    I have been laid off for 2 years March, 2008. I have exhaused all unemployment and currently have no income. We are tax paying citizens and did not create this problem and our government won’t even help us. Shame on all of you…God will take care
    of you gready selfish people. We need Tier V unemployment to survive basic needs housing, food, etc…this is not a picnic we want to work..Give us a job!

  6. Jamie says:

    I’ve been laid off for 2 years and have exhausted all benefits! We need Tier 5 benefits to put food on the table and a roof over our heads!

  7. a rollins says:

    pass a tier 5 i am dying out here there are no jobs and money coming in so you will let your own people loose everything and not care a great place called the usa.

  8. Mary Magnusson says:

    I’ve been laid off since July,2008. Just before my last extension I got on board with the education benefit from my state’s work force last fall. At the end of each semester I would get a letter to send my grades and next semester’s schelude. At the end of Spring semester I got a letter from them to sign the paper, as usual and bring it along with grades and schelude so I could continue my benefit. Two weeks later My unemployment checks stopped. I went down to the office to see why. They looked up my files and told me that others were having problems too and to keep on filing. I did. Following week same thing no check. I went down again and this time I was told that my extension benefits ran out and I wasn’t eligible anymore. I’m in summer classes this semester with a student loan to pay for my college. I can’t drop out and hunt for full time because I can’t get my student loan revoked. And I’m broke,and no job yet. Why can’t anyone send a letter to me at my state workforce beforhand that I was about to run out? I didn’t know. This is playing with peoples lives that need help.All I need is a job or alittle money to get by on till Fall semester. Just a temporary fix.

  9. kristine stiffler says:

    My husband and I moved to Idaho hoping to find better job situations. Shortly after moving to Idaho from Arizona in 06/08 my husband was laid off in 03/09 and myself 09/09. We have both actively looked for jobs from day one. Have sent out countless resumes and job applications. I myself have been called in for three interviews in 41 weeks but have either recieved countless rejection letters or am told the company have gone with someone more qualified. With unemployment benefits running out and in desperation we have both enrolled in school hoping to retrain into a better job that will give us an edge over those who companies say are more qualified. We have been able to find work but only part time. Part time money that is something but not enough to provide for our family without the unemployment benefits we have been recieving. Both my husband and I have just finished our second tier of unemployment benefits and will recieve our last check I understand this week. We anxiously check each day the status of congress decision to reinstate benefits along with…submitting more job applications. I have never been more scared in my life. Worrying how we will pay for a roof over our heads,keeping utilities on,food to feed my kids and gas in car to look for work. I pray with all my heart the Senate will come to a resolution soon. Your lives our in your hands.

  10. Harry Rabbit says:

    I am no different from millions of Americans. I have several college degrees. I have, literally, saved the lives of three children, educated children, paid taxes, and given freely to charity. I was let go from my place of employment due to the economic problems in the country, and through no fault of my own, a little over two years ago. Many of the unemployed are highly educated and are told over and over and over that we are way too qualified to do the jobs for which we apply. We do not care, we just want a job! I will work for anyone who will hire me.
    Now our unemployment extensions are ending and we will have no money coming in at all. Most of us have sold everything we had owned of any value and have gone through all of our savings trying to get any job at all, while keeping our heads just barely above water. We will be losing our homes and being evicted if we are renting. I have been making phone calls to State Senators, State Government, U.S. Senators and the Federal Government, through The White House comment line, as well as emailing through The White House website.
    There needs to be a Tier 5 legislation addressed immediately before millions upon millions of people receive their last Tier 4 check and have absolutely nothing on which to live through no fault of their own. I have NO health care and do not qualify for any state aid as they check your tax returns and due to unemployment they claim I made too much last year to qualify for any type of aid. I am now rationing my spare change that I have been saving in an old peanut butter jar, and it is a toss – up each day between food and medication. I usually eat about every three days or so and drink water and decaf green tea on the days I can’t afford food. A friend bought my dog food, and my vet has agreed to treat him for free at this time since she has known us for 12 ½ years. I have been through my emergency savings that bought me an extra six months of renting my place but I now have NO savings. I have also sold ANYTHING and EVERYTHING I owned of any value to buy food and gas for the car. I have nothing left. I feel I have been totally disenfranchised by my own country. I do not count for anything. I do not count on the unemployment register as my 99 weeks have come and gone so it looks like the numbers are getting better, when in fact, there are just more people aging out of the system! I do not count in any way in this country after all of the service I have given to this country and its children, who are the future. Through no fault of my own my self esteem no longer exists as now that I have no place to live but my car what are my chances truly?
    This economic situation did not come about in one year and cannot be fixed in one year. We who have been laid off are not to blame for the economy. However we are paying the highest price. We who go to the stores and feed the economy by making daily purchases will no longer be able to do so. The economy will have no foundation. NOTHING can remain standing without a good, solid foundation. Offering big tax breaks and huge bailouts to the banks and to big businesses is NOT the way to get the economy back on track. Making sure that the average person in this country can feed the economy by buying clothes, food, and luxuries is what will keep the economy growing. One must build from the BOTTOM UP. One cannot build from the TOP DOWN. The foundation must be STRONG before the next layer can be put on top of it. By denying a TIER 5 to the currently unemployed this country has just insured that the foundation of our economy WILL get weaker NOT stronger. This will cause the small strides we have made in growing our economy to slip backwards down to where they were more than a year ago. Millions of Americans have now been sentenced to no future, no place to live, nor food to eat. Many of these people have health conditions that require special diets so eating the foods given out at food banks is not an option. EVERYONE IN THIS COUNTRY, whether employed or unemployed, should contact their STATE SENATORS and tell them to add a Tier 5 for unemployment compensation to immediate legislation. IT WILL HELP EVERYONE IN EVERY STATE OF THIS COUNTRY IF THIS TAKES PLACE AND IT WILL HURT EVERYONE IN EVERY STATE OF THIS COUNTRY IF THERE IS NO TIER 5. It is now June, almost July, and more than SIX MILLION people whose unemployment compensation has come to an abrupt halt have NO other means by which to live! Each month millions more people will be forced to live on NOTHING as their unemployment compensation abruptly ends! Where are all of these people and their families supposed to go? How are they supposed to live? What about the millions of children affected by this horrific situation? Has anyone in The Congress, President Obama, or Speaker Pelosi thought of these large looming issues? Of course not because if they had there would be a Tier 5 instead of POLITICS AS USUAL so all of the terrible things about to happen to millions of people and their children would NOT happen in the wealthiest country in the free world! The current administration is supposed to be so worried about education. What on earth will this teach our children? Making these children and their parents homeless should not be an option if adding a Tier 5, and even a Tier 6 if need be, can stop this!
    If the Government could find the money to bail out the banks and other industries there really is NO excuse for forcing homelessness on millions of highly educated yet uncompensated people who desperately want to work. We are not slackers who wish to live off of the government! Once one is living in their car the chance for employment goes way down as computer use and shower use disappears.
    Thank you.
    Harry S. Rabbit

  11. Shane Amos says:

    I have been unemployed for a year and a half. I have searched for work daily with no luck. I would much rather have a job than collect unemployment. I just want to support my family as I am sure is the cas with most people collecting unemployment. I dont understand why the senate will not pass the unemployment extension. How can they justify taking away the income of millions of Americans at a time when there are no jobs especially where I live in Michigan. If this is not passed it will not only lead to complete chaos but will also greatly decrease consumer spending, which will lead to more jobs being lost. I am not a bum living off the government I have worked hard my whole life all I want to do is support my family. please do the right thing and pass the unemployment extension

  12. Does this really do any good to write these comments? Does anyone with a paycheck listen? I think not. They don’t have to guess where their next meal is coming from or when they will lose the only thing that they have left, their home. I pray to God that they never have to experience this in their life. To not be able to sleep at night, or ever relax because it is constantly on your mind that you may be homeless down the road. I am 58 years old, and no one seems to want to hire an older person. You you have a heart at all you will help us people that want to work and have been really trying. I have worked part-time at my job but sometimes only get 7 hrs a week. It’s sad to think that suicide may be are only answer. I wonder how many deaths you have caused. Do the right thing and quit giving money to other countries and take care of your people in your own country.

  13. Nicole Rapperty says:

    I have read all these stories on this blog and I feel really sorry for you individuals. I really do. I just wanted to ask one question though… How long should the government pay unemployment benefits? 5years? 10years? the rest of your life? I would assume by now those that refer to themselves as “99ers” would have adapted their way of life to the unemployment benefits you have recieved over 99 weeks. Yeah your probably not going to be able to afford car payments and a huge mortgage but to live in this world you have to adapt to situations in life. Just because you live in America doesn’t mean life is without its challenges. I to have had hard times. My husband and I tried to have a child for 7 years finally I got pregnant.. but oops it was twins. A lot more expensive. I had to quit my job because they wouldn’t work with the hours I could . I worked for them for 15 years. It was heartbreaking. I filed for benefits but was denied because I had to quit instead of being laid off. Because of my twins I owed the hospital system almost $20,000 dollars after insurance and I had some pretty kick butt insurance. My husband at the time was making about $40,000+ a year but we were just over the mark for wic. So my kids had the walmart generic brand thats all we could afford. We bought 2 $1500 cars and we rented our house. Granted we are in a better place now but it was hard work getting there. What people don’t understand is that you can live off the minimum wage but you have to adjust your lifestyle for it. Its not pretty but its LIFE. I have seem and talked to quite a few people on unemployment, and they are taking for everyting they can and still bitch about it. I believe if they would implement higher standards not so many people would be on it and it would be such a big issue. Around here you just copy a few workplaces out of the phone book and take it in and they accept that. The unemployment office doesn’t check on anyone. So many I have seen bitch about what they are given or not given but yet they still buy the unnecessary. Drugs, alcohol, cigarettes. So where is the limit???????????

  14. ted says:

    The many people who can’t find jobs are similar to mine. We are now millions across the country.
    We are in real trouble here. Someone shouldn’t get cut-off from unemployment just because they had 99 weeks of unemployment. Millions of the people who are unemployed want to work so they could have the things they always had. I’m 57 now, but I worked from age 13 to age 55.
    I love to work. I love to work so much that I volunteer my time. No one will give me a job. I’m a architectural designer, though I’ve applied for so many other type of jobs and every employee who is looking says they have other applicants more suited for the job. Please help us with TIER 5 and a extension for the 99 weeks. We want to work, but there is no work. What do we do? Who else could we turn to, if we don’t turn to you. We don’t want to beg for unemployment, though we are begging for jobs. We need to create jobs and no one id doing anything about that.
    Please reconsider on TIER 5 to help the millions in need.

  15. Wes of the "99ers" says:

    The fact that you ignore, Nicole, is there are no jobs. In thinking that those receiving UEI spend their benefit on “Drugs, alcohol, cigarettes” shows your naivete and places you in the ring (once again) with the kid from the other side of town that beat you up when you were 12. You need to grow up and be more sensative to and global in your knowledge of the world you live in.
    Dignity is a mainstay of the human experience. Those who represent us (in government) claim to fight daily for the rights of the downtrodden. “Preserving” dignity is at the top of every politicians list. What a joke…preserving that which is not recognized to begin with. How many laws passed by congress have YOU voted on? The continued suspension of civil liberty by those that “represent” us is proof positive that we are but life long slaves to the monster we’ve allowed to be created (in government). The “flavor of the week” mentality embraced by these chosen few guides the life your children will lead. Do you actually believe, under these terms you are making the world a better place for them?
    Yes, even I agree that these comments are a bit severe for a blog about extended UEI benefits, but there is a root to all problems. A surgeon removes the cancer, but cannot remove the chemistry that created it. By the way..how much does your hubby make now? $60,000, $70,000? And really, do you know what minimum wage is? Lets do the math…
    7.25 hr* 40= $290. Hmm..minus Uncle’s bite, (17% avg.)…that leaves…about $50…$240 take home. Rent, $635 (national median), electric $135 (w/ac) Food? The IRS allows a budget of $752 for a family of 4 and a total household expense of $1371 for a family of 4, lets just use that number. Fair enough?
    (childcare will not be included)
    $240*4=$960. Do I need to finish? O.k. I’ll give you 2 working parents..$1920, ooppss, still a little short. Now do you get it? Oh, and remember dignity? At this juncture I believe it would be appropo to quote Stan Lee (Marvel Comics), “nuff said”.

  16. Dear all congress and senators.. Republicans and Democratics,

    We need jobs. This is a crisis. Everything we all worked for will vanish. I’ve worked straight for over 30 years and this is the first time anything like this ever happened. We need both parties to come together and help America. This is the country we love. We the people who are out of work are republicans and democrats. WE ARE THE PEOPLE THAT WANT TO WORK, BUT THERE ARE NO JOBS! When will anybody realize we are in a crisis that really needs attention! We want to work, but until then please pass TIER 5 UNEMPLOYMENT EXTENSION.
    We need to survive. We are the people who have been contributing for years to make this country continue. We kept this country alive for so many years and now the republican politicians are turning their backs on us. I vote republican, though now I will be thinking to change my vote, just like the other millions of people that are hurting.

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