As of December 28th, 2013, 1.5 million Americans lost their emergency benefits. These individuals are considered part of the long term unemployed underclass, which have been out of work for approximately six months or more. It has been more than a month since their benefits expired and Congress has not been able act. In light of these facts, I wondered if America at large has forsaken its commitment to those Americans in need.
Although the Great Recession is technically over, the U.S. job market has seen only modest gains in the years since 2008. During this time many States have decided to balance budget shortfalls on the backs of the unemployed. They have cut the maximum amount of weeks eligible to receive benefits while cutting the amount of aid one would receive weekly. The most infamous offender in this race to the bottom is North Carolina, who slashed the maximum weeks of benefits from 72 to 20. Not to be outdone, Georgia recently limited their unemployment to 18 weeks.
So what will these long term unemployed individuals do? Well, some will exhaust their savings, others will go into early retirement. There will be a group that will take any position whether they are grossly over qualified for or not. For some of my peers, moving in with their parents might be an option. Is this the social safety net of the future? Is this model ideal for a healthy and socially mobile America? With Congress’ lack of action for the long term unemployed and willingness to cut funding from food stamp programs, is the American populace complicit in their actions? If not, when are people going to rise up?