Are you a 99er? Then you've probably lost your house already

Are you a 99er? If so, my thoughts are with you.

For those who don’t know, a 99er is someone who’s been jobless for more than 99 weeks. This is significant because these people will no longer receive federal unemployment benefits. Congress in July voted to extend these benefits for people who’ve been looking for a job for up to 99 weeks.

Those people who haven’t found a job by then? They’re out of luck.

PBS NewsHour has done an excellent job covering this story. On its Web site, several 99ers shared their stories. As you can guess, they were heartbreaking.

And here’s something else: An alarmingly high number of 99ers said that they had either lost their homes to foreclosure or were preparing to lose them.

One of the saddest stories comes from a 44-year-old man living in Northern Illinois just outside Chicago. This man had logged 22 years in the information technology field. In 2008, the advertising company at which he worked eliminated his position. The man says that he has sent out more than 1,300 resumes. This has earned him just two phone calls. Neither company called him back for a second time.

After 17 years of making his mortgage payments on time, the man and his family lost their home to foreclosure. The family is surviving thanks to the help of relatives and food stamps.

There are several stories just like this on the NewsHour site. Losing a home to foreclosure is a devastating blow, as you’ll find when you read through the stories. It’s just too bad that the foreclosure rate isn’t going to ease any time soon in Chicago and its suburbs.

What’s most upsetting is that the majority of 99ers aren’t people who aren’t trying to get jobs. They want to work. They’re not trying to live off unemployment. Many of these workers are talented, too, and come armed with glowing letters of recommendation.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that stories like these don’t worry me. If I lost my full-time job, would I be able to find another one in a field as devastated as journalism? What about you? Would you run the very real risk of becoming a 99er?

Leave a comment