It has been 44 days since Congress let federally extended unemployment benefits lapse for 300,000 workers per week. Now, more than 2.1 million have lost the subsistence-level checks. Today, the National Employment Law Project highlighted the case of one 17-year veteran of the banking industry:
I never had any intention of having to depend on unemployment benefits, but the events of the last few years have made it unavoidable. I am 59 years old, and have been working and paying into the unemployment pool through my payroll taxes since I was old enough to get my working papers at 16. That is 43 years. As a kid, I had a paper route, mowed lawns, washed cars and did whatever odd jobs I could find to earn pocket money. …
Since being laid off, I spend most of every day looking for work. I have sent out literally hundreds of resumes, joined all the online job networking sites, signed up for daily job alerts online from every site I’m familiar with and responded to every print job posting I qualify for. In all that time, I have had two interviews. I have applied for jobs for which I am a perfect fit, jobs for which I am over-qualified, and unpaid internships just to have a chance to demonstrate my skills. I have been willing to accept positions paying far below what I used to earn. It is a demonstrable fact; I want to work.** **
Because Congress has not yet voted to restore the extension of unemployment benefits, my unemployment benefits lapsed on June 2, 2010. I have been put into a position of needing unemployment benefits to pay my rent and keep food on the table, through no fault of my own. My economic survival and the economic survival of millions of American families depends on passing this extension.
But today, speaking on the Senate floor, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the majority leader, said Sen. Robert Byrd’s (D-W.Va.) replacement will be in Washington on Monday and will be sworn in at 2:15 p.m. on Tuesday. (Byrd passed away at the end of June at the age of 92.) And the Senate will vote for extended unemployment benefits immediately after Byrd’s replacement is sworn in — restoring help to millions of families retroactively, and continuing the benefits through the end of November.