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People are angry over unemployment — voluminously angry

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A major part of my job at InsuranceNewsNet is to select the news articles that appear on our website. In choosing the items that we post online, I ask myself, “What would Joe (or Jane) Advisor need to know in order to sell more product, serve more clients or run their practice more effectively?” I like to think that I hit the mark most of the time.

But, judging by the number of “clicks” that each individual article receives, and by reviewing the reader comments that stream into my email inbox, we have been seeing an undercurrent surrounding one surprising topic. That topic is unemployment insurance – in particular, the Senate debate over renewing federal unemployment benefits for more than 2 million long-term jobless whose benefits expired in late December.

News items on this topic are automatically moved from the news feed to which we subscribe and posted on our website’s Newswires section, a section that is updated continuously with breaking business and political news. Readers have pounced on these accounts of political give-and-take and they haven’t been shy about letting the world know that they are fed up. No matter your political beliefs, you can’t help but feel the anger, desperation and frustration that these readers are venting in their online posts.

Nobody said they sat back and took it easy while the unemployment money flowed in. Our respondents described their frustrating and sometimes humiliating attempts to find work as weeks without a job turned into months. Some described sending out hundreds of resumes only to come up empty. Others described their education level and their many years of experience that turned out to mean nothing when it came to competing in the job market.

When it comes to job hunting, some respondents noted that it takes money to find a job. Without cash to pay for gas or bus fare or to keep a phone to communicate with prospective employers, some said they can’t even afford to go out on job interviews.

After many months of unemployment, followed by more than two months with the income spigot turned completely off, respondents said they are desperate. Many said they have no family members who can help them. Others said they are about to be evicted from their homes. One even said he plans to take his own life because he can no longer deal with the depression fed by long-term joblessness and he sees no end in sight.

Frustration and hopelessness are turning into anger for many respondents. They are mobilizing online to share their stories with their elected officials and work to defeat those whom they blame for this mess.

As of now, Senate negotiators struck a deal that would renew these federal unemployment benefits, allowing for retroactive payments to go to those who haven’t received anything since the end of 2013. The proposal is expected to come before the Senate later this month, and then would need to be approved by the House of Representatives.

What our Web readers want the world to know is that they are not lazy and content to sit around the house. What they want most, they said, is to return to the workforce and be productive again.

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Susan Rupe is assistant editor for InsuranceNewsNet. She formerly served as communications director for an insurance agents' association and was an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor. Connect with Susan →

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