Back in December 2010 Alexandra had taken the initiative to organize “Letters to Bernie‘ where the unemployed could write Sen. Bernie Sanders and share with him their long-term unemployment struggles. A couple of weeks ago I published a story of Alexandra Jarrin, who was battling against the odds to keep a roof over her head.

A number of readers asked for an Alexandra update. It pains me to say that Alexandra’s situation is still very difficult; she days from being homeless and her health is worsening. Here is her update:

Shay Totten who writes a political column for Seven Days – Vermont’s Independent Voice, contacted Alexandra after reading my Huffington Post article. He published Vermont Woman Who Led Fight for ’99ers’ on Verge of Homelessness, which resulted in Alexandra being contacted by a couple of concerned individuals, including a staffer for Sen. Bernie Sanders. The staffer said that she may be able to help Alexandra locate housing assistance, but that proved inaccurate. According to Alexandra, “I spoke with (Sen Sanders’ staffer) and she said that there really isn’t anything she can do for me beyond telling me of the local resources which I am already familiar with and connected to.”

The staffer did mention that Alexandra could potentially qualify for a rapid re-housing grant through HUD only IF she is employed. That’s a Catch-22; she needs a job to receive housing assistance, but she needs housing to properly look for a job. Disturbingly, federal, state and local governments aren’t able to help the struggling long-term unemployed find temporary housing. As a result, Alexandra remains in her hotel room living day to day.

The help that Alexandra received from some very generous individuals is greatly appreciated. JG from TX, K and P all paid for portions of her hotel stay. Without any further help, March 5 may be the last day she will have a roof over her head. “JG from Texas also sent me $400.00 to pay a month’s car payment.” JG likely kept Alexandra’s car from being repossessed, which would likely end any chance of her finding work in rural Vermont. Without those generous gifts, she would be living in her car, or worse.

The high stress of unemployment, near homelessness and health issues are understandably taking a high toll on Alexandra’s spirit.

“You know, Mike, on March 24th I will be 50 years old, I used to see this as a milestone for the beginning of a new leg of my life, now I wonder if I will even make it to that day. I can’t plan for the future, I go to the doctor’s office and its always bad news and all they keep telling me that most of it is either brought on by stress or the stress in my life is what is heightening the issues. High blood pressure, diabetes, Fibromyalgia, Hyperparathyroidism, gallstones and kidney stones and God knows what else they are going to find. The worst thing I ever had to deal with was several kidney stones and the treatment for them.

How do I reduce stress when I live each day or two wondering what is going to become of me, how long before I will literally be in the streets. I have been homeless for 8 months now, lost my entire life 8 months ago, drove away from a lifetime of memories and personal belongings that are not replaceable. My parents are both dead and anything I had that belonged to them is gone because I had no way to store them or move them, all gone. My mother died of a stroke at the age of 58. She worked herself to death. I was just 19 years old and now the doctors are telling me that if I don’t take care of myself I am going to stroke out just like she did. But I should reduce the stress in my life.

I would hope that people understand that after trying everything the government has told us to do, relocating, spending my last of my saving to move to TN in the hopes of finding gainful employment, losing more and more of myself each time that its dreadfully scary to face each day and hear the same things each day. To be hunted by bill collectors, to live with the fear that I will be in a box under a bridge somewhere soon. Sounds dramatic, but it’s the drama of my life.”

Alexandra continues to look for work.

“I spent the entire day today dropping off applications all over town once again at all these places that will take an application rather than an online application, I have done this three times now, once every three months and still each time I go in they tell me the same thing, they will keep it on file if they are looking for someone in the future. It’s to the point where i cant just drive around willie nillie because with the price of gas now, it costs me 42.50 to fill up my tank.”

Her note ended with, “I am whole heartedly grateful for everything but I am still so scared for what is to become of me.”

Let that sink in, “but I am still so scared for what is to become of me.”

Millions of unemployed are experiencing similar nightmares of the days to come. As the pundits and politicos celebrate a “jobless” economic recovery or “new normal” unemployment rate of 9% at the mahogany tables of board rooms and congressional offices, the talk at many kitchen tables of the long-term unemployed are much less cheerful. Millions of American families are deciding how they will survive the next week without a job, without money to pay for shelter and without any help from a government that squandered trillions of taxpayer dollars on corrupt and mismanaged banks and financial institutions. They are wondering, “What is to become of me?”

While Congress readies to cut $390 million in heating assistance for the poor and $747.2 million from WIC – Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, it wants to increase funding for capital police security by $12.5 million. Congress, in its majestic sense of self-importance, feels it’s more important to protect itself than to protect millions of vulnerable Americans – the Alexandra Jarrin’s of this country. Until that congressional mindset changes, we can expect more suffering from those who have already suffered the most.

Alexandra can accept Paypal contributions and communications at from those who wish to help. If you have any questions or concerns about this process, you can also contact me at

“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide aenough for those who have too little.” Franklin D. Roosevel


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Last week proved to be another in a long line of disappointments to befall the unemployed and especially the 99ers. H.R. 589, a bill that would have added 14 weeks of unemployment benefits to Tier 1 was shot down due to a seldom enforced House rules violation.  According to Arthur Delaney of HuffPost:

Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) then used a parliamentary maneuver to successfully block the amendment.

“An amendment to an appropriation bill shall not be in order in changing existing law,” said Rehberg. “The amendment directly changes existing law.”

Rep. Lee’s office said that the House rule used to block H.R. 589 has been waived for Republican priorities, but apparently not for this vital piece of legislation that would help more than two million who have exhausted all unemployment benefits.

You can read more about the blocking of the bill by republicans at: offered the following explanation of how the bill could have been brought forward without the concern of a rules violation:

The kicker is that the amendment could have easily been drafted so that it did not change existing law. The amendment, which is identical to H.R.589, would have added 14 weeks to the length of Tier I benefits. If it instead added the 14 weeks by creating a new tier it would have qualified under the rules governing amendments for the continuing resolution and been givend a vote. Sure, Scott and Lee could have been more cautious with their amendment, but the Republicans did not have to block it. Rules like the one used by Rehberg t block the vote are routinely ignored.

At this point it’s unclear when the Democrats will have another shot at holding a vote on this. The Republican leadership is not going to bring the bill to the floor under regular order, so it will have to happen in the form of an amendment to a larger bill. It may be months before the Republicans hold another open debate that allows members to offer amendments.

Rep. Lee’s office indicated that H.R. 589 currently has 67 co-sponsors and more are added each day, but Republican support will be necessary for this bill to move forward under any circumstances. A Lee staffer said that Republicans need to work with them to move forward this legislation, but they have offered nothing so far.

Gregg Rosen of the American 99ers Union offers 99ers some hope going forward:

I know folks keep saying, “we have been down this road before”, but in actuality it really is not the same road. When I had a job (when was that???) and use to give seminars on retraining the brain to get past fear as relates to business challenges, I always used the following analogy:

If you were bitten by a dog as a child, there is the possibility that you developed a fear of dogs. You could find yourself years later walking down the street, see a dog coming your way and in turn without thinking, you cross to the other side of the street. Was that the same dog that bit you? No. Because one dog bit you years ago does that mean all dogs will bite? No. This is our subconscious mind making a generalized association to try and protect you. As complex as the mind is, the subconscious mind has two simple functions, lead you toward pleasure and assist you in avoiding pain. Unfortunately as I just mentioned, the subconscious mind makes very broad based associations. Hence the irrational fear that if one dog bites me, all dogs will do the same.

It is only when we stop and understand that an event, while it may seem similar in nature, does not have to produce the same result, can we then break free of the fear and move forward without hesitation.

While this is a setback for the unemployed, Rep. Lee’s office said that they will exhaust every effort to make this legislation a reality, but no further plans were offered. They did reiterate that convincing House Republicans such as John Boehner and Eric Cantor of this legislation’s importance is vital to ongoing efforts. Those who support this legislation will need to concentrate their efforts on contacting Republicans, since Democrats seem supportive of the measure.

As the ranks of those who exhaust unemployment benefits swells during 2011, the problem of too few jobs and too many unemployed will become even more devastating. Unfortunately, a deaf and dumb (in more ways than one) Congress seems also blind to the fact that millions of jobless will not have any financial safety net.

The real unemployment rate

Even as Congress bickers about budget cuts, unemployment is not improving as would be expected during a “recovery”. The BLS releases their monthly, seasonally adjusted employment report, which currently shows unemployment at 9%. Gallup, on the other hand, does not use seasonally adjusted numbers and their latest report shows unemployment at 10% and underemployment at a whopping 19.6%!

A Democratic Congress proved ineffectual with creating jobs in the numbers required to dramatically shrink the unemployment rate, but the new Republican House seems more ineffectual in that regard. As Rep. Lee’s office stated, there were over 600 amendments to the continuing resolution, but H.R. 589 was the only offering that included unemployment or jobs language.  600 amendments and only one job bill from the House. Not only is that omission ignoring the elephant in the room, it’s destroying families, neighborhoods and communities.

How many jobs are needed to just keep up with population growth?

Each month the talking heads say that unemployment is improving because tens of thousands of jobs are being created each month.  Not only are those talking heads wrong, they never give people the real story. It takes more than 120,000 new jobs each month to simply keep up with new entrants to the workforce.

This means that in 2011, in the “best” case scenario, the monthly NFP number has to be over 200,000 before the unemployment rate is reduced by even one basis point excluding the impact of the BLS’ favorite trick of fudging the labor force participation rate, which we have discussed extensively in the past.

Where are the jobs bills?

While an inattentive Congress trumpets smaller deficits by cutting aid to the poor, jobs continue to be sent to other countries. Here is a small sample of how companies are sending work elsewhere at the expense of American workers:

The closure of Palm would be the second time a manufacturer has announced a plant closing in Bowling Green this month. Cooper-Standard Automotive announced their hose plant would shut down this year. Work there is being moved to Kentucky and Mexico.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has a site where you can keep track of all the job creation bills being offered by the Republican controlled House As I mentioned earlier, that job creation bill total stands at zero.

Ignoring a lousy jobs situation will not make it go away, but that seems to what Congress is now doing. That purposeful oversight will continue the nightmare for millions of jobless who need jobs now.

Protests in North Africa, Middle East and Wisconsin are likely to spread widely once people finally realize that in order to save the biggest banks and the wealthiest investors, the regulatory bodies designed to protect the public have not done their jobs. When Congress can decide to cut heating subsidies for poor families, but not increase taxes on the most wealthy, it’s obvious that Congress no longer works for all the people, it now works for only a select few with deep pockets.

99er advocate needs your vote

99er and ending hunger advocate Kim Doyle Wille is in the running for a cash prize to help her implement her idea to help alleviate hunger.

My idea, which I actually already started last September, is ‘Plant a Row to End Hunger’. Here is the video: Here is the link to vote at Survey Monkey:  When I voted last week, my entry was listed first on the page but I’m not sure that is still the case as once one votes, (to prevent multiple voting/cheating from same IP address), the user can not return to the voting page. The voting is simple and only requires clicking a dot next to the idea and the ‘Submit’ tab with NO personal info required!


You can help Kim by watching the video and voting for her effort.

The Daily List has a great media contact list: as does

You can find your representatives contact information at:, or at

Please consider subscribing to Rochester Unemployment Examiner articles. This is a simple task of clicking on the Subscribe button above, which is located directly below the title of my post, and then entering your email address. When I add a new post, you will be notified at the email address you enter. You won’t receive any spam, just my posts. Thanks.

I’m looking for stories from people who have been rejected during the hiring process for being unemployed. Have you been the victim of a temp agency that won’t give you an interview because you are unemployed? Have you seen jobs ads for “employed only” or “unemployed need not apply”? Have you lost a chance at a job due to a poor credit score? Send your job rejection experiences to

You can also view my updates and new posts at Twitter: and Facebook

Huffington Post

Huffington Post is kind enough to give me a chance to post my work at their site. I hope to be able to spread the 99er word using their larger audience. You can see my efforts at:

Continue reading on Rough week for 99ers as H.R. 589 stopped by Republicans. Underemployment 19.8% – Rochester Unemployment |

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During December 2010, Alexandra Jarrin a unemployed Vermonter, organized a “Letters to Bernie” campaign, where she encouraged the long-term unemployed to send their unemployment stories to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Sen. Sanders had courageously filibustered President Obama’s and the Republican’s tax cut compromise as well as supported the extension of unemployment benefits to all unemployed.  Ms. Jarrin’s appeal was in response to the proposed extension of unemployment benefits for those who had not exhausted all unemployment benefits. The unemployment extension did not include millions of 99ers, some who have been without any financial support for up to one year and desperately need financial lifeline. Ms. Jarrin collected those letters and hand delivered them to Sen. Sanders’ Vermont office.

Her appeal received a great deal of response from the unemployed and her efforts were featured on a CNN segment highlighted on The Huffington Post.  Ms. Jarrin unselfishly mounted this campaign to encourage others to share their unemployment experiences with a senator sympathetic to their plight, hoping to convince Congress to extend unemployment beneifits to all unemployed..

During that December 2010 campaign, Ms. Jarrin’s life was stressful, but she had a place to live and was hoping for better days ahead. Unfortunately, those better days have yet to materialize in 2011. She is still unemployed, although she has applied for more than 3000 jobs. A friend of Ms. Jarrin contacted me and relayed that Ms. Jarrin was nearly homeless. I contacted Ms. Jarrin and asked how she was holding up and she replied:

I am sorry that I didn’t get a chance to get back to you when you emailed me last week; things have just been blowing up all over the place in my life. That whole issue was I just had knee surgery, and fell right afterwards which caused issues. The surgery was not successful really and I am still recovering from it. I have several health issues that I was aware of before but not to the degree that I am finding out, that is what happens when you go years without health insurance.

So on the heels of all this, my friend – the place I was staying – told me that I had to leave immediately because her landlord would not allow her to have someone live there any longer. On Wednesday he threatened her with eviction if I didn’t leave that day. So I am homeless again. I am so stressed out and I came down with some version of the flu even after getting a flu shot this past fall. UGH, just miserable.

Ms. Jarrin received some much needed assistance from a Good Samaritan and “Letters to Bernie” reader who graciously paid for a one-week hotel stay. After that paid-week Ms. Jarrin will again face the prospect of homelessness during a brutal Vermont winter. Ms. Jarrin’s car will likely be repossessed, which will put her in an even more precarious situation; unable to visit a doctor, unable to look for work properly, and unable to live in the car in the event she can no longer pay for her hotel room.

What makes Ms. Jarrin’s situation even more troubling is that she is one of millions of long-term unemployed who have been abandoned by a disconnected and near inhumane Congress and executive branch and left stranded without any means of support. Even Vice President Joe Biden quipped clueless to the unemployed, “Hang in there.” How can someone “hang in there” who has nothing?

Many people doubt that the long-term unemployed are anxious to get back to work and simply want to collect benefits. The job openings data show that assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. The latest BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary showed “3.1 million job openings on the last business day of December.” When considering that there are nearly 26.5 million unemployed and underemployed who want full-time work, 3.1 million job openings is not nearly enough to make a significant dent in the unemployed/underemployed population. That’s more than 8 people seeking each available job. And many of those job openings are part-time, seasonal, or temporary, which puts full-time jobs in even greater demand. The bottom line is that there are not enough jobs to meet the demand for jobs and until that situation improves, the unemployed, such as Ms. Jarrin, cannot simply “hang in there” without some assistance.

With the backing of a compliant Congress, corrupt bankers and failed corporate executives now are receiving record compensation after robbing the American Treasury of trillions of dollars, but that same Congress can’t see fit to help those most in need. This American tragedy won’t improve unless Americans demand more accountability from their government. Unfortunately, even if the American public finally opens its eyes fully to the fact that the middle class and poor are being financially disadvantaged and hustled for the benefit of the most well-to-do, change will take more time than people in Ms. Jarrin’s position can wait.

Since Congress currently seems incapable of acting responsibly for those most harmed financially during this Great Recession, the American people will have to step forward and take up the slack. One person cannot help everyone, but everyone can help one person.

If any Good Samaritans would like step forward to assist Ms. Jarrin during this very difficult period, please send me a note at and I’ll put you in contact with her.

“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.” Franklin D. Roosevelt

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