Mary Kay Coyne, a 56-year-old New Jersey resident, has recently filed her 1862nd job application since she was laid off from her $70,000-a-year job as an administrative assistant at a firm three years ago.
The United States is suffering from the highest level of long-term unemployment since 1948. Coyne is one of millions whose unemployment benefits have expired, which are given for up to 99 weeks in many states.
Unlike most of the European countries, the safety net of the welfare system of the United States expires for the long-term unemployed. The federal government is trying to help as much as it can but the economic crisis is ruling out further extensions of these welfare programs.
Coyne was already forced to move in with her friend because her 99 weeks of benefits have expired. Now, all she can hope for is the government not cutting back on its Medicaid and food stamps programs for the poor and the economy coming back so she can finally get a job and pay back her friend.
The number of Americans that receive food stamps has reached its highest level — 68.2 million as of 2010 — since FDR started the program in 1939. While the unemployment is sky high, the White House is agreeing to make a $100 billion cuts to Medicaid in the next decade, and some Republicans actually want cuts of more than $700 billion.
James Sherk, a labor economist at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said, “The government is not here to ensure whatever standard of living you’re at, that you’re not going to go below that. That is just not the purpose of the safety net.”
Well, if that’s not the government’s purpose, what is?