Thursday, April 21, 2011

Unemployment Rate Hits Middle Class Hard

By: Susan B

In July 2010, I lost my job with the Denver Public School District due to budget cuts and restructuring in the district, but I was fortunate to apply and receive unemployment benefits without issues. In October 2010, I accepted a temporary part-time position with a home delivery service. My real problems began once my job with the home delivery service ended in December 2010.

In January when the Colorado unemployment rate hit a then all time high of 9.1%, currently it’s at 9.3%, my claim got lost in the CO Dpt. of Labor and Employment. I later found out that this issue is not uncommon when there are 4,400 new UI claims made every week. Even after speaking with a UI representative at my local workforce center multiple times, it has now been over two months and I have had $0 income since February. I’m a single woman with no other income and have already used my entire savings to maintain my credit only to end up facing financial disaster.

Without UI payments I am now facing the hard reality that I will have to start defaulting on my credit card. I won’t be able to make my modest mortgage payment in a neighborhood already hit hard by mortgage defaults making my house dangerously close to being worth less than the mortgage anyway. I have payments remaining on my car and I’m not sure how I will manage to make ends meet.

It seems to me that people are being forced into financial crises regardless of how responsible they have strived to be in the past, and this makes me extremely concerned about the future for the people in Colorado. At a time when the middle class is shrinking and the unemployment rate is not projected to improve much over the next few years, the discussion of national and state budget debates should be focused on policy that will help strengthen the middle class, create good jobs, and reinvest in our social infrastructures so that we can once again be competitive in a worldwide economy.

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