The Loss Of Employment Benefits Makes A Tough Situation More Dire

Jan 22, 2014

Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio met with unemployed Lane County residents Wednesday at Worksource Lane in Eugene. He's frustrated with fellow lawmakers who allowed federal extended unemployment benefits to expire between Christmas and New Years.

Congressman Peter DeFazio met with unemployed Lane County residents at Worksource Lane in Eugene.
Credit Rachael McDonald

Congressman DeFazio says in Oregon there are an average of at least 5 unemployed people applying for each open position.

DeFazio: "Everybody here wants to work. Some people are on the brink of losing their homes because they lost extended unemployment benefits. Some people can't feed their kids because they lost extended unemployment benefits. We're talking about something that is wrong."

Manuel Esperanza was laid off last April from his job as a radio announcer. He says he started in radio in the 1970s and there aren't a lot of jobs in the industry.  

Esperanza: "Being 59-years old. And working on one business for 40 years. I mean it's not that I don't have other things I can do but most people just don't want to talk to you. At the end of the month I don't have a home. I lose my phone. I'm driving a car right now without insurance for the first time in my life."

Esperanza says he's discriminated against by potential employers because of his age and Hispanic name. He keeps looking for work though.

Carleen McCaffery has been unemployed from an administration position for nearly a year. She says she competes with 2-3 hundred people for each position she applies for.

McCaffery: "I've got a great resume. I've got great experience. I have wonderful references. It's just not enough."

McCaffery says she wishes people on Capital Hill would understand how hard it is to be unemployed and looking for work. She had been the sole provider for her husband and three children. She says her husband now has work but he's not making enough to support the family. She fears they may lose their home.

McCaffery: "We're struggling here. It's not a choice. We're not choosing to be unemployed."

Christopher Green is the father of two young children. He's been unemployed for just over a year. He says his kids are eating out of food boxes and he's been going without food.

Green: "We're one month away from being homeless and no child should have to live like that. I was working. I had a good job. I made good money. My wife worked. And who knows what the future holds because I'm not getting unemployment next week."

The extension of federal unemployment benefits was made in 2008 at the start of the recession. There has not been much progress in Washington to renew it.