Suspension of Benefits Hurting Families

By: Anna-Lysa Gayle Email
By: Anna-Lysa Gayle Email

Harrisonburg, Va. (WHSV) According to the Urban Institute, more than 2.3 million children currently live with a parent who relied on long-term unemployment benefits.

That's three times more than in 2007.

It's a debate happening on capitol hill that's impacting parents and children here in the valley.

Long-term unemployment benefits were put on hold at the end of last month. Now many parents are starting the new year with a burden.

"Now that the unemployment benefits have ended, we're burning through our savings," said Traci Mallow who lost her long-term unemployment benefits as a result of the suspension.

Traci Mallow was laid off from her job when she was five months pregnant. She has been looking for a job over the last nine months.

"I can't even remember how many places I've applied, how often I've applied," said Traci Mallow.

"I think there is this misconception that the longer someone is unemployed, the more unemployable they become," said Mike Mallow, Traci's husband.

She was overqualified for many jobs.

"Just entry level, administrative assistance, sorting the mail jobs," said Traci Mallow.

She was depending on long-term unemployment benefits to survive.

With the suspension, her family is down more than a thousand dollars a month.

She now purchases diapers on Amazon.com to cut costs, something which she says is needed to keep up with her growing expenses.

"We cut back to where we pretty much only have network and PBS," said Traci Mallow.

Right now with her daughter is about to start eating solid foods, it's an added expense.

"We know we have to look at either purchasing baby food or making our own," said Traci Mallow.

She says it is disappointing when politicians say things like "well the unemployment pays them more to stay home than a job would pay them to work" and that's just not the case," said Traci Mallow.

She is now working on a Master's degree at West Virginia University, which she hopes will help her navigate through what she describes as a competitive job market.

On Tuesday, the Senate did not reach a deal to extend long-term unemployment benefits for the more than one million people out of work.

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