With the escalating number of the nation's unemployed behind him, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-8) stood alongside his colleagues on the House Ways and Means Committee and called for an end to the deadlock in the U.S. Senate over the extension of unemployment insurance benefits for the jobless.
"The jobless are no longer solely in urban areas and joblessness is no longer exclusive to unskilled laborers. These people are educated, experienced and qualified individuals. They live in our suburbs as well as our cities. All of them are looking for their next employment opportunity in order to play their role in leading the nation to prosperity," said Pascrell, who vehemently advocated for the unemployment insurance benefits extension on the House floor before the Independence Day recess. "Our unemployed Americans were already let down by the federal government once -- through the failed financial policies of the past decade. None of us can afford to let our fellow Americans down again by not providing the lifeline that will help them meet expenses until they find work."
To demonstrate the urgency of passing the extension of unemployment insurance benefits, Rep. Pascrell offered anecdotes from three unemployed persons from the Eighth Congressional District of New Jersey.
A man from Livingston, N.J. -- in his 40s, married with three kids -- lost his job as an investment banker when Bear Stearns collapsed. He said the banks failed him first when he could not re-modify his mortgage. Now, the government is failing him by allowing unemployment insurance benefits to expire. He is unable to meet the most basic needs and is losing everything -- including the stability of his family. He is devastated. He has sent out approximately 200 resumes. He is deemed either over qualified or not enough experience. He has applied for food stamps and continues to look for work. He is not optimistic.
A man in his 50s from Wayne, N.J. lost his job as an engineer about six months ago. Since then, he has had no income and has relied on unemployment benefits to survive while looking for a job. He called the district office in mid-June, after the benefits expired, in tears. He has depleted his savings. He owes $2,000 in rent and fears he will be evicted at the end of the month.
A 60-year-old woman from Nutley, N.J. developed an excellent resume throughout her career as a business administrator at various companies. Six months ago, she lost her job. Her savings account is dwindling as she struggles to meet daily expenses. She contends that without unemployment insurance benefits it will be impossible to pay her rent, medical bills and her day-to day necessities. She is as frustrated by her job search as she is frightened by her circumstances. "The government is creating a new class of homeless people," she said.