Congresswoman Calls on Congress to Extend Unemployment Benefits

January 23, 2014 9:30 am · 44 comments

U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier today called on her colleagues in the U.S. Congress and Senate to extend unemployment benefits, arguing that many people who want to work are struggling to survive in a tough job market and deserve help.

Unemployment benefits have been available for a maximum of 63 weeks in California in recent years, as politicians issue extensions to those affected by the economic downturn. Without an extension from Congress, however, they are only available for 26 weeks, according to Speier.

Congress has typically extended unemployment benefits during times when unemployment exceeds 7 percent, but efforts to pass an extension have been blocked by Republicans several times now since 2011, Speier said.

Speier said the lack of action by Congress, which caused 1.3 million Americans to lose their benefits on Dec. 28, 2013, and will cause another 1.9 million to lose benefits in the first six months of 2014, will cost the economy 240,000 jobs this year.

Unemployment benefits generate jobs by putting money directly back into the economy, Speier said.

Speier met with several job seekers who lost their unemployment insurance in December.

Many of those who spoke with Speier said had been looking for work for a year or more and had run through their savings in an effort to stay afloat. The loss of unemployment benefits meant they were struggling to eat, to pay rent, and to support their children.

“We are better than this as a country and these people deserve our support,” Speier said.

Job seekers in their 50s and 60s said that while they were highly qualified they had met with age discrimination in job interviews.

Many Bay Area employers will tell older applicants that they are looking for someone “hip” and high energy, said Debbie Wales, 55, who lost her position as a contractor around a year ago.

They will ask applicants telling questions such as whether they would mind working for someone half their age, Wales said.

“They’re always very kind, and then they’ll say “Can you fit into the office culture?” or “You’re overqualified,” said Wales. “How can anybody ever be overqualified for a job?”

Speier said she was disturbed by the reports of widespread age discrimination against older workers, who typically take longer on average to find a job than their younger counterparts.

Unemployment is also high among recent graduates, and many younger workers with jobs are considered underemployed, meaning they are doing work below the level of their skill level and training in order to stay afloat and pay off students loans, Speier said.

Marc Sutter, 30, said he had also heard the “overqualified” line, and always told employers he was happy to take a step backwards because he was impressed with the company and where it was going.

“Overqualified is just an excuse,” Sutter said. Formerly a high-flyer with a six-figure income, he said he had been initially confident in his ability to get another job and survive on savings and did not even apply for unemployment at first because he thought others needed it more.

“I have a lot of pride,” he said.

With unemployment benefits abruptly cut and his savings depleted, Sutter said he now fears he will be unable to make his rent or car payment, and could also lose the sizable deposit he paid on his apartment in better times.

Unemployment benefits helped 2.5 million Americans in 2012, including 600,000 children, Speier said.

In California, 213,793 people lost unemployment insurance on Dec. 28, 2013, and another 325,800 are expected to lose it in the first six months of 2014.

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{ 44 comments }

1 Anonymous January 23, 2014 at 9:43 AM

She got the age discrimination part right. Just because it is against the law, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

2 Adam N January 23, 2014 at 9:57 AM

You wanna help the economy and job market – CUT OFF UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS for these people!

The few people I know who are on unemployment have been on it for about 2 or 3 years, they are young and fully able to work, yet they don’t want to. And as long as this keeps getting extended, they have told me they have no plans to go back to the workforce.

Is it right? No, but it is the way people are so we need to cut this off and get these people back to work!

3 Silva January 23, 2014 at 10:06 AM

Thank You, and bless you Jackie Speier !!!

4 Mr B January 23, 2014 at 10:26 AM

“Unemployment benefits generate jobs by putting money directly back into the economy, Speier said.”

Under this logic we should give everyone a check…

5 @ January 23, 2014 at 10:54 AM

As a 59 year old with a good history & great experience but without a degree, I cannot find a job. Employers even state in their ads that they want someone who lives local to their business. (As Californians we don’t mind commuting) It is crazy the “Qualifications” they are asking for and yet only want to pay $15 hr. I would be happy just to work at any rate……but I am overqualified for those jobs and under qualified for the others. BTW I am a GREAT full charge bookkeeper, if anybody needs one.

6 The Mamba January 23, 2014 at 10:55 AM

Isn’t being unable to make a car payment one of the risks you take when you finance one?

7 LostBoysMom January 23, 2014 at 11:04 AM

@ Adam N
The “few” people you know on unemployment? Glad you’re not among the large number of people who want to work but can’t find employment for the reasons listed in the article and more. Do you really think all those people choose to receive unemployment benefits rather than get a job that would allow them to eat more than ramen noodles and not have to tell their kids they can’t afford the basic necessities like healthy food, utilities, a roof over their heads?
There but for the grace of God go I!

8 ClayDen January 23, 2014 at 11:16 AM

If you have been unemployed for a long time, perhaps one reason is that you lack skills. There should be a requirement for you to obtain additional training after a certain amount of time on unemployment for you to continue to receive unemployment. Perhaps it should be 4-6 months. I have seen a lot of anecdotal evidence that many people do not start looking for a job until their benefits have nearly run out, and the longer you are unemployed, the less likely you are to get hired. Extending unemployment benefits thus is counterproductive.

9 Shelly January 23, 2014 at 11:22 AM

My other half has been MINIMUMLY EMPLOYED for over 3 years and benifits ran out a long time ago. He’s gone back to work part time at a place he left when the grass was greener elsewhere, before our whole economy crashed. If you think he hasn’t been looking for work, you are VERY uninformed.

10 @2 January 23, 2014 at 11:43 AM

I have seen the same thing people have lost their job but they have a working partner so they are not looking for work as long as they are getting money. We need to come up with a better system to insure they are looking for work and make job training mandatory in order to continue benfits.

11 Ted K., Supermax January 23, 2014 at 12:13 PM

Get a job and get off the government’s nipple.

12 Steve H. January 23, 2014 at 12:24 PM

You guys are going to pay for that “job training” you think I should be getting? I’d love to be able to get a relavent job, and no one’s volunteered to train me for a new one. My last career went the way of the dinasaurs, and I’m to old to work at MacDonalds, and that won’t pay the bills anyway.

13 Domestic CEO January 23, 2014 at 12:32 PM

My hubby has not had a full time job since August of 2012. He has over 30 years of phlebotomy skills and cannot still get a job in his field. He is really good too, his specialty are geriatrics and babies. He is 58 years old and has been told he is overqualified… really? How can one be overqualified in their area of expertise?

Age discrimination is rampant and he can’t get away from it. He has 3 part-time jobs to make ends meet… one is a caretaker for a special needs man, the second is working at SAMs selling food items, and the third is a custodian with Martinez USD. He continues to spend at least an hour each day looking for full-time work in the health industry. His unemployment ran out long ago and I am disabled. Age discrimination sucks.

14 Craig January 23, 2014 at 12:46 PM

@ Domestic CEO~~~13

Be thankful your husband has 3 P/T jobs in 3 different fields. Some people have NO JOB at all, and would like to find work doing ANYTHING, especially if they’re not collecting unemployment.

Age discrimination, like any discrimination, does suck. In this economy, if I was unemployed I would have a hard time getting a job. I’m in my 50′s as well.

15 Concord Guy January 23, 2014 at 12:53 PM

I have a friend that has been unemployed for four + years now. His long career was in a shrinking industry, but he has steadfastly refused to reinvent himself. He rants about politicians being the cause of his predicament. Glad he’s married to a high wage earner.

16 Charles Winchester Somesworth January 23, 2014 at 12:59 PM

I have spoken with my staff and they all agree with me that these are shirkers. Cut off their benefits and they will find work.

17 mike mac January 23, 2014 at 1:29 PM

My company was just assessed a surtax from the Feds because California took money for further payments of unemployment and did not pay it back. I say HELL NO!!! The taxpayers end up paying it back, not the state government.

18 RANDOM TASK January 23, 2014 at 1:47 PM

ahhhh the sounds of buying more votes dems must be scared next they will be raiding the obits for more under the grass votes as well…and wow really you think they care about the tax payer lol …….politicians only care about re-election and manipulating your ignorance to do it ……..well done so far another round for the lemmings to further send this state into bankruptcy

19 Jaded January 23, 2014 at 1:47 PM

The Obama economy is still in terrible shape.

Our Government actively works against the working class by allowing companines to bring in H1B workers from India and elsewhere around the globe. Companies will layoff long time employees and require them to train their (Indian) H1B replacement, if you want to keep any type of severance package. Then there’s the illegals that are in all the trades….

20 RANDOM TASK January 23, 2014 at 1:50 PM

why is it that the people can not see these so called public servants have you all under Stockholm syndrome …..they rob you then give you a carrot and you vote em in for another life time of stealing ……easy to do I guess when your votes are bought I guess ….rally on ….your their favorite mark

21 Charles Winchester Somesworth January 23, 2014 at 2:33 PM

Random tasks: how wise of you to agree with me that these people should continue to sponge off of all of us.Cut them off and let them find work like my staff .

22 #1 NRA fan and member January 23, 2014 at 2:36 PM

Bunch of unemployed pothead WHINERS think they deserve MY TAX DOLLARS…. no thanks…. go smoke your pot somewhere else….

23 GOOD January 23, 2014 at 3:21 PM

I hope unemployment benefits get extended. I know many people who are unemployed and have been trying to find jobs. It’s a very bad place to be in. Unemployment benefits aren’t great and the people I know would love to find jobs again. Companies do discriminate….it could be age, they don’t like what you are wearing, anything at all.

What the powers-that-be could do to save cash is to not vote themselves in their pay raises, and fut their own pensions and expensive perks (COLA, expensive trips, dry cleaning, cars, etc.).

24 Always Right January 23, 2014 at 5:40 PM

26 weeks (six months) of unemployment is generous enough, even in this lousy Obama economy.

If you can’t find work at a similar salary in the first month, start marking your self down in price until you get a bid.

If you don’t have work in a couple of months, maybe it is time to move to where the work is? Texas, North Dakota… just about every state run by a Republican governor and Republican legislature has a lower unemployment rate than California.

25 Anonymous January 23, 2014 at 6:03 PM

Here is the problem: the Dems have been in power a good long time. Corporations are sitting on 7 trillion in cash because they are afraid to invest in jobs because they are afraid the business climate sucks.

Like Obama care? Well lots of businesses are cutting back or not hiring because of the expense.

Sure there are a few people abusing the system, but the majority of unemployed would like a decent job. I would.

Next time I’ll vote ,reluctantly , for the Repubs.

26 Rum Dog January 23, 2014 at 6:36 PM

It’s called unemployment *insurance* because
you pay into it while you’re working … like
you pay auto insurance and hope you don’t
ever need it. Cut them all off and we’ll
see even more crime in the area. Can’t even
believe the lazy bums we elected are still
debating this and left for Christmas recess
without resolving the issue.

27 Anonymous January 23, 2014 at 7:59 PM

OK . Would some Democrat explain why after 5 years of Obama the economy sucks? And don’t blame Bush Cheney. That excuse got old long time ago. My take is Obama is inept. People like Desaulnier work hard at bankrupting us because control is their mantra.

Repubs are not much better, but it may be time to give them a try..

28 NRA #1 fan and member January 23, 2014 at 8:42 PM

#22 You have been using my handle on Claycord will you stop pretending to be me???

I’m retired with a pension and will never ever worry about tax dollars.

29 Scoots January 23, 2014 at 8:51 PM

Dang! If I’d known they would keep extending the unemployment benefits every year I’d have stayed unemployed.

30 Ven Exeter January 23, 2014 at 9:56 PM

Waiting for Jackie’s next press release telling us how we need amnesty so Mark Zuckerberg and other Silicon Valley miscreants can find qualified help. Why doesn’t she try hooking up all these over- qualified workers with her billionaire donors who complain about not being able to find any skilled labor?

31 Anon January 24, 2014 at 5:02 AM

“Overqualified is just an excuse,” Sutter said. Formerly a high-flyer with a six-figure income, h”

You had a great job making great money– but blew it all & never saved for your rainy day– no sympathy..bey you have many TV’s, great car & took cool vacations–you screwed up & too bad

32 Also Unemployed January 24, 2014 at 6:34 AM

To those who think that all people who are unemployed are lazy and enjoy living off of unemployment, you need to have your head checked.

I went from getting $3,000/month to now getting $1900/month and that isn’t fun. You need to rearrange your budget and try not to use any savings or eventually go into your 401k.

Being unemployed isn’t fun and for those who are married to have your spouse working, that’s good but you are still living on a tight budget and worried about finding a job; it’s always on the back of your mind.

It’s a job looking for a job and until you have experience being unemployed, you have no clue.

33 Sweat pea January 24, 2014 at 9:26 AM

If you enjoy being unemployed (especially if you’re collecting unemployment in a good economy), you might be lazy.

If you’re unemployed in a down economy (NOW), whether you are or aren’t collecting unemployment, whether you are or aren’t married, and whether or not you have a lot of savings, it doesn’t mean you’re lazy.

IT’S THE ECONOMY! You can’t just “go out and get a new job” like the
good old days.

People who don’t “get it” don’t want to get it, or they’re just STUPID!

34 @ Rum Dog January 24, 2014 at 10:07 AM

“It’s called unemployment *insurance* because
you pay into it while you’re working …”

Rum Dog if you have a pay check please look closely and show us where you paid 1 cent into unemployment….

The employer has to pay 100% of unemployment insurance.

35 Deep Doodoo January 24, 2014 at 10:43 AM

To those who of like to blame our President for the state of this p*$$ p!%r economy, quit smoking the wacko weed! It wreaks havoc on your memory.

36 Angelica January 24, 2014 at 3:42 PM

UI benefits are financed solely from taxes paid by employers.

No deductions are taken from your check.

A lot of people have no idea what’s being deducted from their check. I had my parents explain it to me when I got my first job in high school. I wanted to know, and I knew they’d be honest with me. They’re also well educated.

37 lab January 24, 2014 at 5:43 PM

People that are against this extension apparently don’t understand unemployment insurance.. I hope and pray you never have to go through this… Praying for a job.. In desperate need of income..

38 VikingPrincess January 24, 2014 at 5:50 PM

Lots of back and forth

Listen, it is pulled out of my checks. I do recall it “not being a deduction in the past” either way I am grateful it is available…

39 Denise January 24, 2014 at 6:47 PM

@ Viking Princess——#38

It’s not pulled out of your check. I won’t try to explain it to you. It was explained correctly in other posts.

If you don’t understand your deductions (and you don’t), google your deductions for an explanation.

When I was younger I thought it was “taken out of my check” too. It’s a very common myth. My husband (who’s a CPA) explained it to me.

One of the most boring conversations we’ve ever had.

40 VikingPrincess January 24, 2014 at 7:40 PM

When the deductions indicate
“Unemployment insurance”…what does that mean? It means they are taking money for the groceries, right.

The problem is You can’t read My check stubs and what they say. I read em fine. ;)
Not googling…thanks anyway

41 Kathryn January 24, 2014 at 8:44 PM

@ Viking Princess (ALL POSTS)

You are beyond stupid. Quit while you’re behind.

Everything you say makes NO SENSE. You’re not only stupid, you don’t have any common sense.

It’s probably best if you stay on welfare. I don’t want to have to deal with you in any capacity.

42 Well... January 24, 2014 at 9:03 PM

If you cannot find a job here, you need to move where the jobs are. And yes, there are several states where they have more jobs than people. You just have to look. The days of high salaries are gone. That is a fact that some choose to ignore.

If I lost my job, I would leave Ca so fast.

43 VikingPrincess January 25, 2014 at 12:47 PM

@Kathryn – et al

So you are new and you come here your first day insulting people and participate in cyberbullying and childish flaming. I guess thats what they teach the class of 95.

You are rude and inconsiderate.

If you don’t understand what I am posting, I cannot help you. Perhaps a detective in the cyber division can educate you on how to behave.

44 Absolutely Amazed January 25, 2014 at 3:33 PM

@Katheryn; Are you this vile and disgusting in other social situations also? Home? Work? Play? With your family? With your “friends”? With the people who serve you when you go out to eat? I hope I never have to deal with you. I’m sure you ruin everyone’s day whose path you cross.

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