Transcript: Testimony of Lisa Floyd on the expiring federal unemployment insurance before the House Democratic Steering & Policy Committee on Dec. 5, 2013
Partial transcript of testimony of Lisa Floyd, a sales and service professional from Huntington, West Virginia, on the expiring federal unemployment insurance before the House Democratic Steering & Policy Committee on Dec. 5, 2013:
Good morning, Representatives. Thank you for having me here to share my story.
My name is Lisa Floyd, and for nearly 14 years, I’ve worked as Director of Volunteer Services as mentioned for an area non-profit hospice which serves both West Virginia and Ohio.
I have worked my entire adult life, having had 3 jobs my whole career, and I had never been unemployed until now.
As soon as I lost my job, I immediately began my furious search for employment and began navigating the world of online job boards and diligently networking. My goal was to place my resume in the hands of everyone I knew.
I have spent the majority of my waking hours looking for work.
During this time, I was able to support myself because I received those vital unemployment insurance benefits.
I not only was looking for jobs in my field or only for jobs at the same salary level. I’m smart enough to know that most likely I would be changing careers and taking a pay cut. I applied for everything and anything.
Eventually, I began applying for entry-level call center jobs – jobs that would have resulted in a $30,000 a year pay cut. Or to put this another way, a 42% reduction in my pay. That was Monday of this week.
In a box, on the floor by my desk, I have a stack of job application receipts, job descriptions, research, and various forms of my resume and cover letters. This stack is 2 feet tall, and I know because I measured it.
In addition, my online network connections have literally gone viral.
My regular state unemployment benefits ended in early November, and I immediately began receiving federal emergency unemployment compensation.
I wouldn’t have been able to pay my mortgage and I would have been at risk of losing my beloved little house. I was raised by my mother – a single parent. We never owned a home. But we lived in apartments. So I’m especially proud of my home and I know that my deceased mother would have been proud to know that she raised me right. I am somebody. I own a home.
Now, in the eighth month of my job search, I’m happy to say that I have secured a job just 3 days ago.[Applause]
Again, that was Monday. And although my new job pays much, much less than what I was making, it is a good job with a livable wage and for that I am very grateful. [Crying]
Without unemployment insurance and the federal emergency benefits, I would have not been able to sustain myself and my job search. So for me, these programs have done what they are supposed to do – they kept me in my home. I could still buy groceries and pay my bills. My anxiety – ooh – was kept to a manageable level. And I was able to keep sending out applications and going on interviews.
If I had not been fortunate in finding this job, I would have faced the year-end cut-off of federal emergency unemployment compensation benefits absent congressional action. For millions, that would be devastating. For me, it could have meant the loss of my beloved home.
I am so relieved and grateful that I won’t have to face that now but I know millions of others are at the same risk as I was just 2 days ago – again, Monday. I am here on their behalf pleading with Congress to renew the federal emergency unemployment compensation program for 2014, and please give the other 1.3 million Americans a fighting chance to become re-employed.
I am an emergency unemployment compensation success story. Won’t you please allow this to be America’s story?
If I had not had the extra time – because unless you have experienced how the job market is today and the incredible amount of research – and you may spend 3 hours preparing for an interview – you have no idea what it is like to go through the world of the Internet job boards.
I was facing a decision of taking – actually I enrolled. I have a Bachelor’s degree and I had enrolled in my local community college with all the young millennials to go back to school to get an associate’s degree, to go to night school and work during the day on a minimum wage job or a little bit more.
And then my plan was to have to dig into my retirement and have 30% of that taxed and then taxed again and just pray that my tenacity would get me there.
And the anxiety level – I can’t even explain to you the insomnia, the tears, the mood swings, the ups, the downs. It ranks with me as one of the 5 most tragic things to have ever happened in my life.
And what it does emotionally and psychologically – you feel like Hester Prynne with the letter A when you’re jobless for very long. You’re soon become a member of the lost world. Or people look at you when you don’t have a job yet like there’s something wrong with you. And that’s where I would have been.
I just want to say one thing…What I was feeling on Monday morning was pure unadulterated fear. Fear. I gave my Christmas tree to a friend. Wasn’t going to put it up. No Christmas. I had no idea what I was facing. And your emotions go up and down, up and down because you go on a face-to-face interview and you think it went great. The competition in our area is very high because the unemployment.
And people don’t under – what I want you to understand is to get rid of that wrong impression that people who are on long-term unemployment are coasting along, singing the song, and they’re all laying in front of the TV watching Jerry Springer and eating junk food. That is not what we’re doing.
We’re out there every day. I want to say something. You have to step aside from it every now and then because you’re going to drive yourself insane. But pounding it hard. The majority of Americans want to work. We are not the exception. We are the rule. We want to work. Understand that. Please.
…You can’t prove age discrimination. But I lost my job of 14 years two weeks before I turned 50. Two happy birthday black balloons were very appropriate this year.
And what happens is on the online job applications that you are forced to fill out, they make you put in the dates of your college degree or you can’t go further. You have to put in a date. So yes; can you prove it? Probably not.
So here’s what I was on the verge of doing. I have a friend in the billboard business. We were going to put a billboard – and I’m totally serious and if you knew me, you’d know I’m serious – I was going to put a billboard up on Route 60 in Huntington, West Virginia and…in Kentucky, and in Ohio with my big face on it that says…”Hire me! Hello! Reputable, baby boomer, hard worker, shows up to work, professional. You won’t regret it.” I had a friend ready to reserve my billboard space.
So yes, it absolutely does but you’ll never prove it. You can’t say…
- WhatTheFolly.com: 1.3 million Americans face cutoff from unemployment benefits after Christmas
- WhatTheFolly.com: WH report: Failure to extend federal unemployment benefits will cost 240,000 jobs, lower GDP in 2014
- WhatTheFolly.com: Job seekers & experts refute misperception that long-term UI benefits encourage unemployment
- WhatTheFolly.com: State-by-state numbers of jobs that will be lost if federal unemployment insurance is not extended through the end of 2014
- WhatTheFolly.com: State-by-state numbers of long-term unemployed workers facing cut-off from federal emergency unemployment insurance assistance in 2014
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: House Democratic Steering Committee hearing on unemployment insurance on Dec. 5, 2013
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: Testimony of Christine Owens on the expiring federal unemployment insurance before the House Democratic Steering & Policy Committee on Dec. 5, 2013
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: Testimony of Lisa Floyd on the expiring federal unemployment insurance before the House Democratic Steering & Policy Committee on Dec. 5, 2013
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: Testimony of Vera Volk on the expiring federal unemployment insurance before the House Democratic Steering & Policy Committee on Dec. 5, 2013
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: Testimony of Stan Osnowitz on the expiring federal unemployment insurance before the House Democratic Steering & Policy Committee on Dec. 5, 2013
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: Testimony of Rev. Larry Snyder on the expiring federal unemployment insurance before the House Democratic Steering & Policy Committee on Dec. 5, 2013
- whitehouse.gov: White House Council of Economic Advisers and the Department of Labor report on “The Economic Benefits of Extending Unemployment Insurance – December 2013 (PDF)
- C-Span.org: Video of the House Democratic Steering Committee hearing on extending federal unemployment benefits on Dec. 5, 2013
Category: Advocacy, Congress, Current Events, Economy, Government, Politics, Social Services, Transcripts, U.S. · Tags: American workers, Congress, House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, jobless, jobs, Lisa Floyd, long-term unemployed workers, poverty, U.S., unemployment, unemployment insurance, United States, West Virginia