Real Faces of the Unemployed Documenting the struggle ambition of the millions looking for work... share your story!

Last December, House Republicans argued for a one year extension of unemployment benefits in an attempt to distract the American people from becoming aware of their real motives – to reduce the maximum duration a person is able to apply for benefits, and force states to decide if people applying for unemployment insurance should attend GED classes and undergo drug testing.

Republicans paint a distorted picture that the millions of Americans currently out of work through no fault of their own are all uneducated drug users...

A true picture looks like this:

Karon, Los Angeles You have no identity in a society which defines your value by what you do. My sister and I live together. I am retired on a pension and she worked for Deluxe Labs which sent their work to Canada. If not for unemployment, and her income from unemployment, we would not be able to keep our home. I am so grateful for this temporary fix as she attends school to become a court reporter and once again have an opportunity to work.
Sherri, Los Angeles My husband has a BA degee in Art. He was a art director for 15 years here in Los Angeles until the company closed. Its been 2 years and no job. He went to UCLA to certify in a new profession only for it to be in a recession, too. He is trying many things. We have 2 daughters, teens. I cook all of our meals, shop at thrift stores for clothes when needed, volunteer at church, while looking for work myself. I was raised not to take handouts, but I cannot be too proud. I don't have health care nor my husband. I need $2000 worth of dental work (i have a temp crown my 2 front teeth) but i can't purchase now because we have to eat. We are down to 1 car. it's a 1998 model. No luxeries here. Also, our home is facing foreclosure....modification has not come through....still waiting...We are a caucasian family..not rich, just working people that can't find work. we need help.
Tracy, Los Angeles I am a college graduate unable to obtain employment in my field of studies (healthcare) because I lack experience (as a Surgical Technologist).How do I gain experience, when facilities do not hire college graduates? I have served in the US Navy, lived a drug-free life, never been in any legal troubles,and I can clear background checks and drug screens with flying colors.I have returned to school as an RN student to gain additional skills yet I can not secure a single job. Really? I have applied for employment in retail to custodial to healthcare and if I a get response I am rejected due to: limited availability, lack experience, or thank you for applying but the position is filled. I am left feeling rejection and hurt in to my heart and soul wondering will I ever be able get off welfare before my clock runs out? I am scared. Scared of falling deeper into poverty and not being able to climb out of this web.It's embarrassing to tell my teenage child (repeatedly) I didn't get the job and to see the look on her face. Then, I spend the next day or so with a migraine unable to get out of bed.The thought of volunteer work in a healthcare facility have been placed on ice due to transportation cost. Scared, hurt, sad, anger, disappointment, embarrassment, not valued, disrespected etc. are just a few of my feelings on being unemployed. I do not know what else to do. I'm hurting.
Michelle, Los Angeles Demoralizing, hopeless and useless. At 62, without a car, and disabled, I do not have many choices for job opportunities, nor can I return to my previous type of work - tutoring - since many companies require either having cars or proof of insurance, even if someone doesn't drive. I have excellent tutoring skills and a great desire to motivate students to do better I have a BA in English/Creative Writing, but it appears as if my skills and knowledge are outdated and I lack experience in other fields. My student loans, nearly $30,000, are still unpaid and I am unable to pay them. Many companies do not want to hire workers my age nor can I afford to return to college to learn new or update my skills. Even sites that list jobs for older workers are frustrating. So, yes, it feels totally demoralizing, frustrating, and hopeless to be unemployed. The feeling of uselessness and not being a responsible, productive member of society grows even when I apply for work. The EDD benefits are what help me get through the month so I can pay the phone, electricity, gas bills and afford to buy food, critical medications, and other necessities in my life. I don't even have the money to buy clothes to go on interviews. Did I add the word hopeless? Well, in addition to demoralizing and useless, that's what being unemployed also feels like.
Sandra, Los Angeles It feels impossible. I lost my job in September 2010. Three months later my husband was declared disabled by his doctors. Subsequently, I have been receiving unemployment while dealing with trying to secure disability funds for my husband. He just got turned down... AGAIN…for the 4th time! They say that my unearned income (unemployment) is too much, so he doesn't qualify. Since when is $1,800 enough for 2 adults to live on? Do people have to be homeless to get help? I've worked since I was a child and my husband was a C.P.A.. In essence we are being told that our hard work over the years means nothing. I now have a bad knee and cannot climb stairs without a railing. I lost my insurance when I lost my job, so I cannot see a doctor. What are people in our situation to do?
Robert, Los Angeles Being unemployed today is like being kicked to the curb. More or less it's like being fired, with never ever getting another chance to work again.
Mary, Los Angeles Hello, while I am not unemployed, I might as well be. I am a 56 year old African American with a PsyD in Forensic psychology and work a three day weekend for less than 20,000.00 a year. You might say that at least you are working but, I have bills (most importantly grad school loans due), diabetic, rent and can not afford a new car to get to some of the places far out. For me it seems to be a case of over qualified, over aged, over educated, and not BI-LINGUAL. I have placed about 50 jobs request to go with someone else however, we will keep your c v on file. through Career Builders and Monster Job. I have received a total of three return e-mails stating, "we have decidedWhen you go to graduate school, you think that this is it. No way you can be turned down. Guess again. As I stated before, just because I have a job; living in poverty with a graduate degree is the same as being unemployed. So to think that people just don't want to work is false. I have worked at my current job for over 20+ years and had my pay cut 10%, hours cut almost in half, as well as having younger, less educated, inexperienced people placed over me. This with a graduate degree.
Beverly, Los Angeles The worst thing that has ever happen to me I am now making 32,000.00 a year from a 6 figure income in 2004. I am praying for the economy to come back up so I can move forward.
Karen, Los Angeles It is an extremely frightening experience. I am a lawyer of over 30 years. For the past year, I can count on one hand the jobs available for an attorney of my experience in my field of family law. The court system is broken, so it is no surprise that firms are not hiring. I have been looking for a year with no results. I face losing a home, the ability to earn a living and a myriad of other related issues, including loss of health insurance. I don't need a drug test. I am not someone who wants to be on welfare. The Republicans are simply using this as a tool to obtain their goals. They are completely out of touch with social reality. If they keep this up, there will be real anarchy and revolt that is not pretty.
The personal stories expressed above are those of their respective authors and do not necessarily represent those of Rep. Karen Bass.
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When Congress reconvenes this month, a bipartisan conference committee will meet to discuss a year-long solution to extend these vital resources before the temporary fix expires. It is imperative that we once again let Republicans know that we will not sit quietly while they try to play politics with the American people’s livelihood.

That's where you come in.

Please share your story about unemployment. Tell us about the stress, struggle and ambition you, a family member or a friend experiences every day so we can show the Republicans the real “Faces of the Unemployed”.

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