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Speier Pushes for Extension of Unemployment Benefits

Older job seekers in San Mateo County report being asked if they would be comfortable working with someone half their age.

Rep. Jackie Speier    Photo: Office of Jackie Speier
Rep. Jackie Speier Photo: Office of Jackie Speier
By Bay City News

U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier Wednesday called on her colleagues in the U.S. Congress and Senate to extend unemployment benefits, arguing that many people who want to work are struggling to survive in a tough job market and deserve help.
           
Unemployment benefits have been available for a maximum of 63 weeks in California in recent years, as politicians issue extensions to those affected by the economic downturn. Without an extension from Congress, however, they are only available for 26 weeks, according to Speier, D-San Mateo/San Francisco.
           
Congress has typically extended unemployment benefits during times when unemployment exceeds 7 percent, but efforts to pass an extension have been blocked by Republicans several times now since 2011, Speier said.
           
Speier said the lack of action by Congress, which caused 1.3 million Americans to lose their benefits on Dec. 28, 2013, and will cause another 1.9 million to lose benefits in the first six months of 2014, will cost the economy 240,000 jobs this year. Unemployment benefits generate jobs by putting money directly back into the economy, Speier said.
           
Speier, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, met with several job seekers Wednesday in San Francisco who lost their unemployment insurance in December.

Many of those who spoke with Speier Wednesday said had been looking for work for a year or more and had run through their savings in an effort to stay afloat. The loss of unemployment benefits meant they were struggling to eat, to pay rent, and to support their children.
           
"We are better than this as a country and these people deserve our support," Speier said.
           
Job seekers in their 50s and 60s said that while they were highly qualified they had met with age discrimination in job interviews.
           
Many Bay Area employers will tell older applicants that they are looking for someone "hip" and high energy, said Debbie Wales, 55, who lost her position as a contractor around a year ago.
           
They will ask applicants telling questions such as whether they would mind working for someone half their age, Wales said.
           
"They're always very kind, and then they'll say "Can you fit into the office culture?" or "You're overqualified," said Wales. "How can anybody ever be overqualified for a job?"

Copyright © 2014 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.
Jack Hickey January 23, 2014 at 07:37 PM
One has to wonder how many of the unemployed would find jobs if the benefits were suddenly cut off.
terry mccaffrey January 24, 2014 at 12:28 PM
Be unemployed for a long time and find out yourself.
John R. Fugazzie January 25, 2014 at 07:16 AM
We need jobs and the acknowledgement of the real numbers of people who can't get jobs as they are not there to be had http://neighbors-helping-neighbors.com/unemployment-crisis.html

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