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Joyce Fields

February 10, 2011

Subcommittee on Human Resources of the Committee on Ways and Means – Hearing on improving efforts to help unemployed Americans find jobs

I have a story to tell.  It is a story heard over and over again all across the country, by millions of unemployed Americans.   



I am in my 50’s and have worked hard all my life.  Yet for the past year and 9 months I’ve been unemployed.  A very humbling experience, since I held a professional banking job for almost 30 years before being laid off.  Since I am single, I was able to move across the state to take another job.  That job ended a few months later.  The company cut my hours to 19 hours a week then laid me off.


I have sent out hundreds of resumes.  I’ve even gone through the phonebook, sending resumes to every company nearby.  To no avail.  I have applied at fast food restaurants and cashiers jobs and was told I was overqualified.  My last interview was six months ago.  At that time, I interviewed at a large manufacturing plant.  I was told over the past year almost half of their 1,500 employees were laid off and their jobs were sent to China and India.  The employees who remain are working 45+ hours a week.  The position I applied for was part-time and temporary.  It took months of persuasion, I was told, for the department manager to convince the company to fill this one part-time, temporary position.  I also applied at a national retail store.  There I was told my hours would be 0 – 24 a week, at minimum wage.  Zero hours a week?  This is happening at more and more companies.  Because they know people are DESPERATE, employers can do whatever they want.  Including denying employment to the long-term unemployed.  Age discrimination is also a factor.  Although companies do not ask your age, more and more are including round-about questions such as “what year did you graduate high school”?  This should not be legal.  I have a lot of experience, good workmanship and good values, and know I can bring a lot to a company.  I should not be denied a chance to work there because I am older and because I haven’t been able to find another job since my last job was outsourced.  I did not ask for that.  I want to work!


Rather than losing my home to foreclosure, I put it up for short sale.  There was a buyer and signed purchase agreement in February 2010.  The prospective buyer pulled out after 3-1/2 months, since the Bank did not approve the short sale by that time, even though the buyer offered $56,000 and the principal balance on my loan was $56,008. The Bank would rather foreclose than accept an $8.00 principal loss on a short sale?  I have since lost my house.  The Bank sold it at sherrifs sale to Freddie Mac for $30,000.  My house appraised at $114,000.  Why should I owe my bank the difference?  They would not work with me to set up a loan modification, or accept a short sale, and they were in possession of a home worth almost twice of what was owed to them.  Yet they sold it for $30,000 and now expect me to come up with the difference.  The Bank lost my loan documents, and furnished me with an affidavit which I later found out was illegal. Why are Banks allowed to get away with this?

 The house next door was empty for over a year, bank owned, after the owner lost her job.  The house across the street was sold at sherrifs sale several months ago.  The house next to that one was empty for a long time, another bank owned property.  It is a ghost town, and where I once felt safe, there have been many robberies lately in my neighborhood.  Why?  Because people have lost their jobs and are getting more and more desperate.  They are stealing, not for drugs, but in order to put food on the table, and to survive.



The unemployed are losing their homes, and who will rent to them if they do not have a job?  Keeping utilities on is a struggle.  Cell phones and cable TV are now “luxuries” and are cancelled.  I live alone and have no immediate family, and must depend on others for assistance, which burdens them.   I get harassed by creditors and my credit is ruined (and prospective employers run credit checks).  Cannot afford medical coverage.  Never eat out anymore.  Never go shopping anymore (but I did recently hit the thrift store for a 50% off sale).   


The banks received trillions of dollars in bailout money, including the one I worked at.   Banks received money, yet cut down on their employees and as a result I lost my job. Banks received money yet would not work with me to modify my loan, would not accept a short sale, and foreclosed on my home.  Banks received help, US citizens as individuals receive very little help and are being evicted from their homes.  Why is the government turning a blind eye on the unemployed who need help, while helping Big Business line their pockets? 

And why can’t unused Stimulus Funds be used to help the unemployed who have exhausted their benefits, until they can work again? 


This is a nationwide crisis.  Something needs to be done to create jobs immediately, and also unemployment benefits need to be extended for those who have exhausted their benefits.  It is reported that unemployment numbers are down for the month of December  2010, yet job creation numbers are still in a slump.  How can this be?  Please fix the “system” so reporting is done accurately.  Letting UI benefits run out for the unemployed who cannot find jobs creates millions of exhaustees or “99ers,” which further hinders economic growth.  With no money to spend, we cannot help stimulate the economy.  Without jobs, the unemployed will lose their homes, which mean less money cities receive in the form of property taxes.  Without jobs, the unemployed pay less in taxes; this hurts the Federal, State and local governments.  The unemployed are then forced to depend on State and County funds for food and housing, who in turn will need to borrow money from the Federal government.   Yet, more and more of those programs, the last few resources we have to help us, are being cut. 

Currently there are too many unemployed people and too few jobs.  We WANT to work.  We want to feel good about our lives and ourselves again.  The government needs to HELP us, the unemployed, until the economy turns around and we can find jobs.   AND THERE ARE A LOT OF “US”.  And we are SCARED. Americans should not have to live in fear like this.

Thank you for reading my story, “our” story.

Joyce Fields