Friday, January 3, 2014

We're the face of long-term unemployment.

Today, I'm standing on a soapbox.

Long-term unemployment benefits ended on December 28, 2013.  Three days after Christmas.  While that isn't really that important, it still sucks some of the life out of your holiday season....especially when you're unsure of how you'll pay your bills come January.

Many people don't understand the long-term unemployed or they have all sorts of ideas and opinions about the long-term unemployed.  Heck, they even have lots of suggestions, but until you've lived in the shoes of a person who has been unemployed long term (or been an immediate family member of one), you have no idea what it's like.

So, let's debunk some myths shall we?

  1. The long tern unemployed are lazy.  Let's be honest, I do not doubt for a minute that some of the long term unemployed (LTUE) are lazy and abusing the system(s).  However, many and I do mean many (I'd wager the majority) of the LTUE are not lazy.  In fact, my husband is looking for new jobs and applying daily.  Yes, daily.  From craigslist to specific job sites to specifics employers, he's looking, applying, calling, emailing, etc.  All while taking care of our two kids while I work full-time.  I just thank the Lord he is AMAZING father and rocks the stay at home dad gig while looking for work.
  2. The LTUE should take any job they can find.  Um, no.  I'm not saying that money isn't money, but let's think about this....for my family and others with children or other dependents.  If my husband took a job working the drive thru at a fast-food restaurant (you know, because every long term unemployed person should just go work at McDonald's), he'd be working hours that I'm likely at work.  (In our area, adults often work the day shifts while school aged kids take afternoons and evenings...makes sense.)  Since I'm at work, I am not available to watch our kids.  Since he's at work, he can't watch our kids.  Enter the cost of daycare.  While we've been beyond blessed that E's aunt watches our kids, that does not change the fact that the cost of daycare alone could (and would in most areas) exceed the income made from taking "any job" the LTUE can find.  
  3. The LTUE shouldn't even have kids, they're already using my tax dollars for food stamps, etc.  Let me let you in on a little secret.  The LTUE don't plan to be UE, let alone UE for an extended period.  Sorry that my husband's sperm met my egg over a YEAR before he was laid off.  Guess we should have anticipated that and held off having a second child forever in case it happened...right.  Also, I pay taxes...hell, my husband pays tax on his UE benefits.  In fact, in order to qualify for UE, your company (you) would have paid into a fund during your employment.  Not just any schmuck off the street can go and file for unemployment...didn't know that?   Mmmmm...interesting.  In addition, not every person that qualifies for UE or LTUE qualifies for other assistance (including state insurance, food stamps, etc.)....we don't.  Oh my...didn't know that one either, huh?  Yep, a lot of the LTUE have a spouse or partner that still work...and with that one person's income, their family doesn't qualify for any other assistance.  (You're asking yourself how if we don't qualify why we can't just live off one income...ask yourself this.  If your spouse/partner lost his/her job, would you be able to continue living your life as you knew it?  Rent/mortgage?  Car payments?  School loan payments?  Remember, the world doesn't often care that you've been laid off...oh and remember that you actually lived a life when you were employed..including maybe buying a house, purchasing a reliable car, etc.)
  4. The LTUE are just raking in the money.  Have you ever been on unemployment?  Do you know anyone that has?  Let me tell you, the LTUE (heck, if those on the initial unemployment) do NOT rake in the money.  Unemployment benefits are meant to help people get by, not live on.  I don't know anyone that could actually live off of UE benefits alone.  Remember?  I work full-time and we still, still, struggle every month to pay our bills due to E's loss of income.  We sure as hell aren't racking up thousands of dollars by filing unemployment....in fact, we're likely just racking up more credit card debt to offset the loss of income.  (Oh what, you expected us to have years worth of income saved in case this situation occurred...hate to break it to you...the majority of people don't.  Six months?  Probably.  Nine?  Possibly.  A year?  Maybe, maybe not.  However, for the LTUE, even a years worth of emergency funds will get used up.)  No worries though, I'm sure we're still stashing away money every month and sitting on our asses eating bon bons...come on people.  
  5. The LTUE should move & go to where the jobs are.  Again, I don't think people are thinking when they make these statements.  Yes, a single person without any other obligations that would keep him/her in his/her current city could just up and leave and go to where the work is.  However, I'd wager that a lot of the LTUE aren't single without any ties to his/her community.  For us (and many others), we can't just up and leave at the drop of a hat.  Why?  Oh I don't know...maybe it's something called a job.  Remember?  I work.  Many of the spouses/partners of the LTUE work and have steady employment.  So, the LTUE are just supposed to up and move across the country (or wherever the work is) and his/her spouse/partner is just supposed to quit his/her job and go with them?  How is losing one income and gaining another any different than the previous situation?  Oh I know, the person who has been laid off forever is just supposed to go while the other stays put.  Right, because I want to split my family apart again...we've been there, done that.  Not gonna happen.  This isn't even including the cost to basically pay for TWO households instead of one.  Again...how is this beneficial?  
I'm sure there are other arguments and ideas, but I also believe I can give you real answers to your real questions/suggestions/opinions.  We're just ONE family out of the MILLIONS who were affected by the termination of LTUE benefits.  We are doing the best we can and we will continue to push on.  However, don't group my family into some twisted idea of the LTUE you may have.  We're not just a number in the long list of unemployed.

After receiving requests from some readers, I've added a donation button to the post above as well as to my blog homepage.  I truly appreciate your thoughtfulness and your kindness.  It's not forgotten.  



3 comments :

  1. *slow round of applause* Thank you!! My husband and I are in almost the exact same situation. (He's going back to the Army on March 3, but until then, we're pretty much left out in the cold with zero income, no insurance, etc). It's been really rough. And while I did budget for this-because I have zero faith in the Army doing anything in a timely fashion-that doesn't change the fact that we're struggling financially. I'm really sorry, and I pray your husband is able to find a job in his field!

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    1. Thanks, Marisa! I'm sorry to hear about your situation as well! I stopped by your blog and noticed you guys are heading to GA. I'm still really hoping E gets his start date for the job he signed with in June down there. If so, I'll have to look you up!

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  2. I really appreciate you writing and sharing this perspective. It's really been easy for me to hold to those stereotypes because of my past work experience with lower income families, and I hate that I've let that shape my thoughts about unemployment. I recently have met several amazing people who are having a hard time right now and I think God put them into my life to change my heart in this area. So glad you've written honestly and openly about this so others can understand and gain a better, more gracious perspective.

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Thanks for the comment love!

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