Friday, October 22, 2010

Out in the cold for the holidays

More than 1 million workers will lose federal jobless benefits Nov. 30 if Congress fails to renew the emergency program, the National Employment Law Project reports today. Here are the first few paragraphs:


For 20 years, Ms. K. Webb, a 46-year-old single mother of two, was a dedicated office manager who
enjoyed her work and excelled at it, but her employment came to an abrupt halt in October 2008, when she was laid off. Today, Ms. Webb is one of 15 million unemployed Americans still struggling to find work amid the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression. What’s more, she was one of 2.5 million workers who had nowhere left to turn for support when her federal jobless benefits were prematurely cut off this summer due to Congressional gridlock.

By the time Congress finally restored benefits for jobless workers, Ms. Webb had gone nine weeks without this crucial support that she needed and had expected to receive. During that period, she was forced to rely on the local food pantry to feed her family, and she struggled to pay her bills after already having given up her home. Ms. Webb’s battle to survive without the jobless benefits she had counted on to support her family while looking for work is a sobering reminder of what’s at stake for huge numbers of families if Congress fails once more to renew the federal jobless aid program.

Millions will face the same fate as Ms. Webb unless Congress does what’s right and reauthorizes federal jobless benefits. This includes more than one million workers who will lose their benefits in just one month following the expiration of the current program on November 30th. The program deadline falls in the midst of the holiday season, when unemployed families do their best to put food on the table and hold on to their family traditions. It’s also a time when the economy, especially the retail sector, is counting on consumer spending—supported in part by unemployment benefits—to maintain the recovery.

Read the rest of the report.

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