Tomorrow, Congress will consider extending unemployment benefits to millions of out-of-work Americans. Last time they tried this, Republicans successfully blocked it.
According to the latest numbers from the North Carolina Employment Security Commission, North Carolina currently has a double-digit unemployment rate of 10 percent. North Carolina Policy Watch estimates that when the last vote to extend unemployment insurance failed, 20,000 North Carolinians lost their benefits.
All across the state, unemployed North Carolinians are suffering as their benefits run out and they are unable to find any work due to the recession. Here are just a few examples of the pain the unemployed in Burr’s state are experiencing:
– Stephen Crockett, who has “34 years of primarily manufacturing and construction experience” in the Winston-Salem area, has been unemployed since August 2008. His benefits ran out June 14th, and he worries he will be “homeless, hungry and without car insurance by mid-July if another extension is not granted.”
– Boonville’s Melissa Carr lost her job more than a year ago at a travel agency. Living on $135 a week in unemployment benefits, she qualified for a Pell grant and is studying to become a substance abuse counselor.Yet her benefits will run out soon, and she is terrified of what she will do without them. “I am going to lose my home and most likely, my possessions,” she told USA Today.
– Shari Maloney, 45, has been out of work since January and lives with her boyfriend in Raleigh, who is also unemployed. “It’s a roller coaster, honestly,” Maloney told the Charlotte Observer. “Can I say that it’s getting any better? No, I can’t say that. I talked with a recruiter recently with a group of other applicants. She said, ‘Look, you guys are all midcareer, you’re midmanagement and your jobs are the ones that are not going to be coming back soon.’”
- In Ashe County, North Carolina, unemployed couple Mark Nesselhaus and Stephanie Young were forced to live in a tent in a campground in West Jefferson after Nesselhaus was laid off twice from manufacturing jobs. As storms pounded the campground, the owner allowed the couple to move into a cabin and pay rent when they can. “You don’t realize how fast it could happen to you,” Nesselhaus told the local press. “You could be working one day, nice paycheck, nice home and within a week or a day it could all be gone.”
It's uncertain whether Republicans will prevail in their expected attempt to filibuster unemployment benefits. Still, one wonders if Richard Burr (R-NC) will break ranks with his colleagues. Don't hold your breath.