If you’re living in California and you find yourself frequently unemployed, then this is going to be very bad news: jobless benefits will be cut off this May.
The same will apply for those living in Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Texas, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Fifteen other states, including Michigan and South Carolina, were already cut off from these benefits last month.
True, unemployment rates nationwide have been going down over the past few months. But take the unemployment rates of individual counties into consideration and you have a totally different story from the national average.
Take for example Merced County in California. It has a jobless rate of 20% – a far cry from the nation’s average of 8.2%. In a county where one in five people are unemployed, you can see just how important of a lifeline jobless benefits are.
What is even worse is that many chronically unemployed people are not in this situation of their own free will – there just aren’t enough jobs around. This is especially true for those that have spent the better years of their lives on a particular career only to be turned away. The odd jobs that require no special education or training are just not there, meaning these hard-working individuals that got laid off cannot even find jobs to even feed themselves.
Now that jobless benefits have been yanked from under their feet, the only real option left to them is food stamps and very limited housing assistance if they wind up homeless – and these two options are far, far from enough to give them the support they need to get back on their feet.
“People here are not working for lack of wanting to work,” says Brenda Callahan-Johnson of the Merced County Community Action Agency. “It’s a lot of work to be poor, a lot of work just to survive every day.”