Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

Laid Off, Then Cut Off


By Sonora Bostian

Congress is ending its work for the year without extending unemployment benefits. Now, 1.3 million unemployed workers will be cut off from benefits just days after Christmas.

This is outrageous! But for me, it's also deeply personal. I was laid off and had to receive unemployment insurance to get by. And then, after unsuccessfully searching for a job for over a year, I was cut off because legislators cut emergency unemployment aid.

I’ll never forget the fear that struck me when I received that news. These claims were a major source of assistance during my job hunt. Even with unemployment insurance, my savings were dwindling, and I was nearing the end of my financial rope. And then, the safety net that was holding me up during my search was gone.

1.3 million Americans are about to receive this same news from Congress. Congress just passed a budget deal and hurried out of town. But noticeably absent from that deal was any extension of emergency unemployment assistance.

The economy is improving, but the job market is still tough. Nearly two-thirds of unemployed people have been looking for work for over 26 weeks. I applied for over 100 jobs, and it was well over a year before I received an offer.

Don’t allow Congress to turn its back on unemployed workers! Call (800-326-4941) or email your members of Congress today! Tell them to extend unemployment insurance immediately as their first action in 2014. With so many Americans struggling to find and keep a job, we cannot afford to cut them off when they’re already down. For many, unemployment insurance is the difference between staying afloat and losing everything. Just as it helped me, it continues to help others who are currently unemployed put food on the table, keep their homes, and provide a sense of security through the path of uncertainty that defines the job search.

I count my blessings every day that I was offered a job shortly after my claims ran out. Many Americans are not so lucky. Call or email your members of Congress today and tell them to ensure the strength of the safety net that unemployment assistance provides to so many people.

Sonora Bostian is Bread for the World's online communications specialist.


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