People who have exhausted their jobless benefits are pressing policymakers for more aid and joining together to call attention to their cause.
By Alana Semuels / Los Angeles Times / September 22, 2010
After his wife of 23 years pulls out of the driveway every morning to head to college, Scott Mathewson sits down at the computer in his apartment and talks to his unemployment group.
Mathewson, a San Jose electrician who has been out of work for more than two years, spends most days in an online chat room he created to lobby for another round of unemployment benefits. In this election year, he and other jobless workers are trying to turn the nation’s 14.9 million unemployed into a political force.
“This has made me 110% more politically active,” said Mathewson, 45, who in March exhausted his 99 weeks of jobless benefits, the maximum available.
Mathewson is part of a growing army of so-called 99ers, the estimated 3.5 million unemployed workers who will have fallen off the jobless benefit rolls by the end of the year. Their prospects for finding new work are dim. The U.S. economy continues to shed jobs and the national unemployment rate is 9.6%; the August jobless rate in California was 12.4%.
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