"One of the hardest things I have ever had to do is sit my two kids down and tell them there might not be a Christmas this year."
40-year-old unemployed father from Eubanks, Kentucky
Three days after Christmas this year, 1.3 million laid-off American workers will see their unemployment benefits stopped. In Pennsylvania, the number will be 87,000 people drawing their last check December 28.
"If my wife loses her benefit before she finds a job, we lose our house."
These are working people caught in the worst economic crisis in more than 70 years, one that will not end. Unemployment is still officially 7.0 percent - with nearly 11 million people officially unemployed and millions more out of the labor force or working part time despite wanting full-time jobs.
"Really need the EUC extended. I already tapped into my annuity last year and need to provide for my family. I work hard and long hours most of the time. Please help!"
Laid-off father from York, Pennsylvania
Unless Congress acts, millions will be left with no benefits to support their families in an economy where there are still 3 unemployed workers for every job and the average length of unemployment is more than 37 weeks. The Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program is scheduled to end December 28, 2013 - reducing unemployment benefits from 63 weeks to 26 weeks in many states. According to the Department of Labor, 3.2 million Americans will exhaust their unemployment benefits by the end of June if this program is not continued.
"I can't find work. I have been paying taxes for 35 years and demand an extension."
Worker from Scranton, Pennsylvania
"I am a single mother of four and was laid off almost six months ago. I have applied to at least four jobs a week every week and still haven't found a job that will support my family. I have a college degree and have always worked, till I was laid off, and will now have no choice but to turn to welfare if benefits are not extended. Please help!"
Mother from Lincoln, Rhode Island
The Philadelphia Unemployment Project has been circulating an online petition calling on Congress to continue the EUC program. I am sharing some of the voices of unemployed Americans who signed the petition and who are facing the end of their only source of income during the Christmas holidays.
"I have put in over 90 applications, including McDonalds, and only been on one interview since May, when I was laid off. I don’t know what to do. Had to move in with my mother, about to lose my car, have been depressed cause I'm looking for work. Anything to help keep my child in one piece."
Mother from Rudyard, Mississippi
The pain faced by these families will be increased by the economic impact of pulling tens of billions of dollars out of our economy. These benefits are immediately circulated back into local economies and help stimulate hiring. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that ending EUC would cost 310,000 jobs at a time when there is a desperate need for more employment.
"You don't understand how many applications I've put in - and no phone calls. I need the money to support myself and my two disabled children. Please help extend the benefits; we really need the help. I will lose my house, my car. I can't barely make paying my bills now. Please, I'm begging you on my hands and knees for my family. Please, I look for a job all day. I pray to God that I get hired so I can support my family. ... Please extend our benefits ASAP."
Father from Philadelphia
We only hope that the sentiments expressed in these comments are being relayed to the Republican leadership in Washington and we don't devastate families and set back our economy for the false savings gained by slashing the EUC program during these hard times.