Witness Wednesdays Promote Plight of the Long-Term Jobless

You've heard the story many times about good people who lose their jobs through no fault of their own, and find their lives turned upside down.

That's Debra's story, too. She's a vivacious 48-year-old single mother who's worked all of her life, up until one year ago. What's different about Debra is that in addition to looking for a job and trying to retrain for a new career, she's become an advocate for millions of others just like her.

Debra had been in sales at a small family-owned kitchen and bath business in West Texas, but within a year both owners died and the heirs laid off most of the staff. She knew she had the skills and energy to be a good employee, but she couldn't even get an interview for another job.

"I didn't realize it was this bad until it affected me," said Debra, who asked that her last name be omitted. "I want to work. If you've been looking every day for six months, you have to have good work ethic."

No More Extended Federal Aid

Like millions of others, she signed up to receive unemployment benefits, which helped her make ends meet. She checked online and found out that she was eligible for 99 weeks of benefits -- or so she thought. Texas paid the first 26 weeks, and then federal emergency benefits kicked in. But after just one week, the checks stopped coming. Congress had cut the aid to 73 weeks and at the end of 2013 eliminated federal aid altogether.

Online, she found many others in her same predicament. "This issue found us," said Katherine McFate, CEO of the Center for Effective Government. "People started sending us their stories, and we became their voice."

That led the group to start "Witness Wednesdays," a series of weekly events that began in June at which members of Congress push to reinstate federal jobless benefits. The Congressmen read the stories of individuals who have been out of work for more than 26 weeks, the standard definition of long-term unemployment.

The Senate approved an extension earlier this year, and a bipartisan group of eight members of Congress is pushing to get a a vote in the House. "We continue to see up to three million Americans who lost their benefits," said Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., one of the co-sponsors and leader of last week's Witness Wednesday. "Congress seems to be oblivious. We want to show that these are real people facing the worst days of their lives. They deserve a vote."

"If you look at their stories and have one ounce of empathy," according to McFate, "you couldn't turn your back on these people."

Plan Doesn't Satisfy Boehner

Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, says the Republican leadership "is willing to look at any proposal that is fiscally responsible and creates private sector jobs." He says the plan being offered by Kildee and others does not meet those standards.

"It's frustrating," admits Kildee. "Virtually every issue is twisted to be a political issue. This is not a Monopoly game. These are real people."

Advocates for renewing federal benefits say that many of the long-term unemployed are seen as too old to hire but too young to retire.

Debra, the Texas woman trying desperately to get back into the workforce, has become a voice for many of the long-term unemployed. Her son is now in college, thanks to financial aid, and she is enrolled in a program to get a real estate license to start a new career. She says, "I thought for sure that after the first bill passed we had so much momentum, but I can't believe someone could be so heartless to not allow a vote."

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Now we know republicans are not good for this country. They only take care of the rich and the large corporations, not the working poor, the poor nor the poor senior citizens.

July 24 2014 at 3:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The fact you might blame technology for eliminating hours and jobs won't help Longterm unemployment, won't hide the fact that 146 million employed in 2007 wasn't enough to begin with, and 146 million some 6 1/2 years later is short of the 171 + million you should of had yesterday.

When you put the series of BLS reports together you see the before and after. You have crap jobs and your job totals are at least nearly 30 million short .

July 24 2014 at 12:28 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Your trying to pass off a total jobs number that wasn't really keeping up with people growth. The original high of 146 million or average for the year in 2007 ignored the fact unemployment numbers were growing and( not in the labor force numbers were growing) Half dozen years later you reach an income beaten down high of 146+million employed but the population is now even larger. The population was too big in 2007 and its bigger now in 2014.

July 24 2014 at 12:12 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Getting back to the topic;

Consider the info at epi.com which explains the job losses which caused all the Longterm unemployment. The massive outsourcing of jobs off shore kept the labor force and unemployment piling even as the employed hit a high. When the Great Recession began the labor force was still growing which added to the not in the workforce ,which is now 92.1 million.

Tthe population of 16 and over is too large for the rate of job creation. The employed number at 146 million is a joke. The number is riddled with part time crap there for it generates less income to spend. The 146 million number needs to be over 171 millon with the addition of full time better paying jobs.Old numbers don't work anymore your behind some 30 million jobs and the ones that existed before have loss their value.

July 23 2014 at 11:54 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply


Tell us about AOLJobs again but mentioned all the job cuts at AOL and it's divisions this time.

July 23 2014 at 8:08 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

I don't even think former AOL founder Steve Case Escaped relations to my tree.

Nancy Wickham Married Benjamin Harrison Case. who was related to President Harrison.

Joseph Wickham Great ...Grand father married Martha Case.

July 23 2014 at 7:56 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Iselin007's comment

See The attainer from NY during the after the Revolutionary War cause my great Uncle Parker Wickham to lose his house built in 1649 ( one of the oldest houses in the United States). But a Descendant Nancy Wickham married the descendant of Landon who forced the attained house to be auctioned off. When Benjamin Harrison Case a Decendant of Landon married Nancy Wickham the family got the house back!

July 23 2014 at 8:17 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

There used to be three guys on the garbage truck: one to drive and two to dump the cans in. Now there is one guy on the garbage truck to drive it and a robot arm dumps the trash.
In the supermarket half of the cashiers are gone replaced by robot registers.
Soon mail will be picked-up and delivered by an electric robot truck with no driver.
How do I know ? I invented most of it. In the years ahead robots will be doing all of it (it's 2014 not 1970).
There are not going to be many jobs, but life will get much easier.
The authorities (Washington) need to plan for this now and provide for the jobless.

July 23 2014 at 7:12 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to alfredschrader's comment

There still are 3 people whenever the robotic arm truck breaks down. The robotic srm truck has 2 people, one to drive and the other one to get a container hemmed in by an ignorant visa worker's car.

Often more than 1 of 8 of the automatic cashier machines is closed for various reasons and the assistance podium has up to 2 workers!

July 23 2014 at 7:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was one of the presenters at Witness Wednesday and a Contributor for AOL JOBS.


See my presentation at 28:35 into video

See my articles on AOL JOBS


July 23 2014 at 5:14 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to John's comment

My Great...Grandfather family was famous on LongIsland during the Revolutionary War.

Mentioned on the Official South Hold Town Hall Website:


Mentioned on the genealogy site of LongIsland.

July 23 2014 at 7:51 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Caros Slim's people can't get enough of the jobs in the US, he wants you to give up yours so his people can take them. If you don't give them up ,he'll just buy the company an take them by force!

July 23 2014 at 4:16 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

The participaion rate is too low. If ending extended benefits was suppose to flood the labor force with more people it didn't the not in the labor force only grew larger.

Obviously the few jobs are so crappy few could afford to take them because it would more then they would earn. The taxi or car would cost more than the limited hours offered if they were to even be considered by an employer,

July 23 2014 at 1:09 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply