Pima County One-Stop Career Center
provides critical support and training to unemployed job seekers, but unemployment compensation is still needed “for people to make it,” an unemployed Pima County single mother said at a news conference Thursday.
Tami Dean, two other unemployed Pima County women and U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva talked about the impact that the termination of Emergency Unemployment Compensation in December has had on individual lives and the local economy.
It has taken “$400 million out of the pockets of American job seekers nationwide,” Grijalva said. “It’s not just about the benefit that you’re extending to somebody. It’s about what you’re taking out of the economy at the same time.”
Grijalva said compensation was cut off to 17,900 unemployed Arizona residents in December, and 865 more lose benefits every week. Job seekers’ loss of $219 a week translates into the state of Arizona losing $3.5 million a week, he said.
“For every dollar you spend on unemployment compensation to help that individual and their family, there is a net return to the economy of $1.52,” he said.
Dean worked for Raytheon as a contractor for four years until November 2010 and then for the Department of Economic Security through the summer of 2011 before she became unemployed and turned to One-Stop in desperation.
“I needed help with rent because rent doesn’t stop when you’re not working,” she said. “Heating the house doesn’t stop when you’re not working. That electric bill keeps coming every month, and the gas bill keeps coming every month. And we don’t have any income to pay it. What do you do?”
Nearly in tears because she was threatened with eviction, Dean called One-Stop and obtained financial assistance and was told about a grant-funded health-care career training program for low-income people.
“I was desperate and I needed to make a change,” she said. “At 47, 48 years old, I found myself going back to school. It was hard. But I pushed through and I had a lot of support from One-Stop.”
Her voice breaking, Dean said, “I finished at Pima Community College as a medical assistant in June 2013. But my benefits in unemployment finished in May and I really needed those to continue until I finished school, until I got through with the externship and I could find a job.
“Once again I called Cheryl (her One-Stop case manager) and she helped me with rent. Different things were available and I got through.”
But Dean is still looking for employment.
“In 2005 and 2006, when I first arrived here, there were a lot of jobs. I got called for jobs. I got interviewed for jobs. So what has changed from 2005, 2006?”
Grijalva pointed out that the recession has resulted in a net loss of 1 million jobs since 2008. “So, yeah, jobs are out there but they’re fewer, and the demand and competition for those jobs is higher,” he said.
The sequestration cuts to employer incentive programs and to job training, counseling and education opportunities for people who are seeking work have a negative effect on the people who are looking for work and the rate of unemployment, Grijalva said.
“The more support services you have to help the unemployed, the better chance they have and the better chance our community has to have people working,” he said.
Dean added: “The unemployment benefits have to be there in order for people to make it, in order for people to live.”
For more information about One-Stop services, please visit the One-Stop website