Letters From Victims of the Great Recession

Letters from those affected by a tragedy often have more impact than simply discussing the facts and data associated with the tragedy. That's the case with the tragic consequences of long-term unemployment.

While statistics and data illustrate how long-term unemployment shatters confidence, destroys finances and disrupts family stability, those suffering the wrath of long-term unemployment can best describe its effects.

I receive letters from the long-term unemployed, which highlight the desperate straits faced by those abandoned by the job market, the social safety net and Congress. Some letters are lengthy and others are one or two sentences. All of the letters ask the same questions: will the long-term unemployed be helped or will they lose everything they have worked for all their lives? A few of those letters follow.

I am a resident of San Antonio, TX. I have been unemployed since December 31 2008, the title company I was working for filed bankrupt out of no fault of my own I was laid-off. I received unemployment benefits from Jan. 2009 till Jun. 2010. I didn't receive all 99 weeks of unemployment. I called TWC in Austin and I was told that I had used all by benefits but to keep filing my work searches in case another extension was approved. The extension was approved and I then was told that I did not qualify for that extension, so what happened to the rest of my weeks?

I am 54 years of age and been trying very hard to find a job but have had no luck. Some places say they don't discriminate from age, sex, or race, but they do. I have worked many years of my life to know that they do discriminate. Back in June I lost my unemployment, in July I lost my mother, and in August I lost my apartment. The only thing I have left is my car and I'm about to lose that too this month. I don't know what else to do, I feel like we are left out in cold in the middle of nowhere all alone and nobody can hears us. Thank You!! E. S.

The following letter shows how even the best qualified individuals can come up short in the job hunt due to discriminatory hiring practices.

My story I'm sure reads like millions out there struggling to get back to prosperity. However, right now the thought of self worth and regaining my dignity while putting food on the table for my family through my efforts is a dream come true.

Not only do I send out hundreds of resumes, I have exhausted my sphere of influence to obtain my goals of employment. I have been fortunate enough to obtain several phone interviews and even a few 2nd interviews in person. There have been 3 occasions that I was the final candidate for the position and even received 2 verbal offers! I was excited that I finally found work again......then I was notified that they were unable to offer me the position because of my recent credit history. Humiliated, I sent an explanation letter with my tail between my legs explaining my circumstances of loss of income but apparently they fell on deaf ears and once again my value and self worth is lowered and my confidence is shattered.

As millions of other good Americans, I have run into brick wall after brick wall watching peers move from one company to another but I cannot get a look due to the fact I have been unemployed for over a year. With the facts that I am currently unemployed, I'm 42 years old and my credit is now poor, I wonder if I will ever find employment.

Concerned and Lost C.H.

I find it deplorable that banks and businesses can scam the US taxpayer out of billions of dollars and then receive million-dollar bonuses, but if an individual finds it difficult to keep a great credit score during a Great Recession, they are penalized. I have not seen one crooked, corrupt, swindler bankster discriminated against for nearly destroying the American economy.

This next letter is a cry for help and I hope someone is listening:

I am a divorced 47-year-old woman. I don't know if my government is hoping people like me will just die off or like a lot of people commit suicide or something. I am being penalized for trying to work.

I have been just barely hanging on. I did not get the unemployment extension because I tried to work at Temporary Agencies. When I spoke to the unemployment people in the past I was told that with the three temp agencies I had enough time to get on the new extension. Now last week they are saying no I cannot. The girl at the unemployment back in September noted that I had a notice of hire. I told her that I was hired by the Washoe County Coroners Office only on a temporary basis while their girl is out on vacation. She said she would note that on the notes. I only worked for them from September 29 to October 6 2010 and only 26 hours. I will not work for them again till Maybe March a few days and May a few days of 2011. She assured me that I would still get benefits. I am being penalized for trying to work.

I try to work for temp agencies so at least I have my foot in the door and possibly get a job. I am not lazy. My days for the four temp agencies I worked for should be my extension. Please help me. I called the unemployment office on 01/12/11, and they said i have benefits. Today I noticed I have a code on my payment status. I called again today 01/13/11, and they say that I am not eligible until I have twenty weeks. Where am I going to get 20 weeks?

I have asked on Craig's list for food, I have nothing not even a penny. The unemployment says that I don't have a chance with the appeal. Since I have been unemployed I have been to the mental health here in Carson City because I have been so depressed and do not want to lose my mind. I am trying my best, but I feel like my government expects me to just die somewhere now. Please help me.

Every month it was questionable if I would be able to keep my car insurance because of affordability. I finally could not pay. I had to choose between food or insurance. Because of this my driver's license is suspended. I cannot afford to pay the 250.00. When I apply for a job they see the suspension and do not want to hire me. I am trying my hardest to work to get my foot in the door anywhere and now I am penalized for this.

I have worked since I was 16 years old. I thought we are supposed to try and work! What am I supposed to do now? This is my daughter's senior year in high school and it is supposed to be special. I cannot afford anything for her, not even her senior pictures or gown. I am trying to write to everybody because I am just barely hanging in there. I am trying so hard not to be homeless please help me with this. I am not a throw away, I am an American Citizen. R.F.

I responded to all letters and offered some suggestions, but these issues need to be addressed by a competent unemployment benefits system, fortified social services, non-discriminatory hiring practices and a Congress willing to show some humanity and consideration to the millions of long-term unemployed. As of this writing, none of those situations exist, but the pain and suffering continues unabated. As R.F. cried out, she and the other long-term unemployed are not throw-aways, they are American citizens. They need to be treated as such.