As unemployment benefits run dry, fear escalates

Nick Carey, reporting for Reuters,tells the story of Deborah Coleman of Cincinnati, whose unemployment benefits expired in April. Coleman is struggling to keep afloat, and she also fears for others without jobs if Congress does not vote to extend support payments to the unemployed:

“It’s too late for me now,” she said, fighting back tears at the Freestore Foodbank in the low-income Over-the-Rhine district near downtown Cincinnati. “But it will be terrible for the people who’ll lose their benefits if Congress does nothing.”

For nearly two years, Coleman says she has filed an average of 30 job applications a day, but remains jobless.

…Coleman, 58, a former manager at a telecommunications firm, said the only jobs she found were over the Ohio state line in Kentucky, but she cannot reach them because her car has been repossessed and there is no bus service to those areas.

…”I’ve lost everything and I don’t know what will happen to me,” she said.

Desperation, sadness, tragedy

These tragedies are playing out across the country — individual stories of careers, livelihoods, and lives derailed by the Great Recession. Most of the jobless are looking for work, while dearly hoping that Congress extends unemployment benefits. As the Boston Globe‘s Robert Gavin reports:

“The vast majority of unemployed are hard-pressed to find a job, and the risks of not passing the extensions are too great,’’ said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics in West Chester, Pa. “It could reignite the foreclosure crisis, and if the economy swamps again, there is no response.’’

In the meantime, those who have lost benefits are clinging to the hope that they’ll find new jobs while wondering how they’ll pay mortgages, keep food on the table, or send children to college.

Indeed, the individual stories in the Globe piece capture one of the most bracing realities of the Great Recession: How folks who had every reason to believe that a willingness to work would pay the bills are now in desperate straits.

If you’re in D.C. on Friday…

This Friday, the Americans for Democratic Education Fund (on whose board I sit), will host a Congressional Briefing, “Women, Unemployment and the Great Recession,” at which representatives from the Women and Girls Foundation and Women’s Voices, Women Vote will present findings from recently released reports. U.S. Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Chair of the Workforce Protections Subcommittee and newly-elected President of Americans for Democratic Action, will moderate the discussion. The event is free, and here’s the info:

Congressional Briefing: Women, Unemployment and the Great Recession

Date: Friday, July 16, 2010
Time: 11:00am – 12:00pm
Location: Rayburn House Office Building 2261

Please RSVP at (202)785-5980 or via email at megan@adaction.org or  hermin@adaction.org.

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