In this entry, I hope to shed some light upon the debilitative nature of being denied unemployment benefits when trying to support a family. As I alluded to in my first post, I am no stranger to the effects of an unemployed family member, but I hope that my experience, coupled with research, will allow citizens to see past their bias against those out of work, and instead, consider possible solutions. When I was in just the sixth grade, my father lost his job of nearly 25 years. My mother was and still is a teacher as well, but we all know how neglected their wages are. This left a family of three, as well as the college tuitions of my siblings, on a single teacher’s salary. While my siblings were both out of the house and rather unaffected by the issue early on, I was able to see first-hand the negative effects this “lay-off” was going to have on my family. Money got very tight towards the end of middle school, and as spending money dwindled, soon we were a paycheck to paycheck family. At that age you are never too interested in finances and the nuances it carries with it, but by the time I was a freshman in high school, it was at the forefront of my mind. Frugality was not just something I learned from my parents, but rather something I had to exhibit each and every day. This is where I am sad to say that the “American Dream” crumbled, and the safety net that was supposed to keep my family afloat for just a couple months was non-existent. Because my father had been deemed long-term unemployed, the single time he filed for unemployment benefits, the returns were outrageous. He was questioned intensively about his past work and generally neglected by the government. After some research, we found that benefits in our state would last just 5-20 weeks, and would pay merely a quarter of your former weekly wages. This may be of assistance to an individual, but sadly it is hardly possible to support a whole family on just that and teacher’s wages. The actual amount is determined by taking the total wage earned over the past two quarters, and dividing by 52 (http://www.wral.com/q-a-unemployment-insurance/12874544/). This will equal the weekly wages that a citizen will earn in the unemployment program. Once I realized that the system was so broken and was going to be of no assistance to my family, I became more interested in how to fix such a significant form of welfare. The system must offer more benefits for greater lengths of time if it is going to be of true assistance to anyone. This would bolster our state economy because there would be workers with applicable degrees to the jobs they’re doing, as well as more educated workers with money to spend as consumers. I hope that this post enlightens people to the fact that unemployment can hurt anyone at any time, and that a social safety net is a very beneficial and necessary aspect of our society.
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