Thursday, November 18, 2010

Victims of recession now pawns for Congress?

Over 50 and Out of Work Trailer from Over Fifty and Out of Work on Vimeo.

As expected, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives today blocked approval of a three-month extension of jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed, which could affect some 2 million people by the end of the year.

Too bad members of the House didn't take the time to view some of the video stories on the website Over 50 and Out of Work, which offers heart-wrenching accounts by baby boomers displaced by the Great Recession. The trailer above introduces some of those affected, who talk more fully in individual interviews about their careers and how they became unemployed.

These are just regular folks -- your neighbor next door, an uncle, a woman at church -- who were whacked as the economy nosedived. Their stories are yours, too, if you share their label of long-term unemployed -- jobless for six months or longer. Worse, about a third of the 14.6 million Americans unemployed as of the second quarter this year had been jobless for a year or longer, according to the government.

In the videos, you'll meet Stan in Detroit, out of work since January 2009. He spent his career in manufacturing and was asked to retire from his job as an engineer when auto-parts maker Delphi Corp. stumbled. He figures the recession has hit him financially to the tune of about $500,000. Bob, on Long Island, worked in the financial services industry, pricing credit vehicles like bonds. Out of work since March 2009, he says his wife worries that he'll never work again -- as he does, too. Brian and Jessica were on the West Coast; he kept losing jobs in various fields as companies were acquired or faltered. When he landed with banking giant Washington Mutual, he figured he was set -- until it failed. The couple moved East and now live with Jessica's father.

The emotions are just below the surface for these recession victims: They seem embarrassed to be where they are and scared of where they may be headed. I hope they (we) aren't further victimized by a lame duck Congress using the extension of unemployment benefits as a political football.

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