When Carla Shutak's husband lost his job in February 2009, her life changed forever. Her family's income went from over $100,000 per year to an unemployment check of $225 per week. She wrote about her experience in a blog post on The Huffington Post and shared her story during a HuffPost Live discussion about America's unemployed.
Shutak explained how difficult it was to adjust her family's lifestyle in the face of such a drastic change in income. "I guess I'm wondering how even that amount can really assist people, when the maximum amount is less than 10 percent of your income," she told host Marc Lamont Hill. "How do you continue to pay the mortgage? How do you continue to pay for your car? How do you continue to pay for health insurance? How do you continue to feed your children?"
In her blog post, Shutak said that her family was forced to move from Arizona to Kansas in order for her husband to find work. They struggled to find a new home in the Midwest, and had to work multiple jobs to make ends meet.
"Thanks to the assistance of family we found an older home in need of extensive updating," she wrote. "We've spent the last five years doing that. John worked two jobs for awhile, until he was laid off from his part-time position. I spent three years working part-time at less than $10/hr, sacrificing family time on weekends and many evenings, to pay bills and exist. I've been looking for a full time position for over three years without success."
Shutak also addressed the issue, raised by politicians like Paul Ryan, of not taking any available work. "People say, 'oh just go get another job. Just work anything, find a job anywhere,'" she said. "I would rather be employed, and I would love to use my skills that I have--I have many of them. Feeding a family of four on $225 a week is challenging for many people -- if that's just all you're buying is food."
"So I guess I would tell Paul Ryan, 'my stomach's not full. And my soul is empty and it's getting emptier by the day.'"