U.S. Congressman Sander Levin stopped in Madison Heights Monday to hear the continuing plight of some of his unemployed constituents.
About a dozen unemployed area residents got to speak direct with Levin during a roundtable, before he ended his trip at a fundraiser that included former President Bill Clinton.
The Michigan Democrat and Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee said with an extension of benefits for the unemployed in place, Congress now needs to focus on a more permanent job fix.
“We have to very much continue to tell this story,” Levin said. “Because it both will make sure there’s unemployment insurance, and also, it will increase the impetus to provide the necessary resources to stimulate job creation.”
Keith Spresser, a construction electrician out of work for about a year and eight months, said it’s good to hear Levin talk about creating jobs.
“Jobs are coming, that’s a wonderful thing,” Spresser said. “When are they coming? I don’t know when they’re coming… If they’re coming in the next three months, I’ll be out on unemployment and I’ll be broke,” Spresser said.
“So really, they talk all they want about all the jobs we’re going to have, but right now is when people need it… people need something now,” he said.
“If I was at the other end of the situation where I was working, I’m sure I would look at people and say, ‘Hey this guy’s been off almost two years and he can’t find a job?’”
Spresser said it’s not like any other time that he’s ever lived through.
Camille Graham-Whitfield said she’s become a “recession widow” because her husband’s new job keeps him on the road.
“He had to take an underpaid job, nothing near what he used to make, and he ended up becoming an over-the-road truck driver about four years ago,” Whitfield said. “And so, of course, that starts to change the dynamics financially of the family,” she said.
Whitfield herself will be unemployed two years this Friday.
Levin said with unemployment benefits extended, he’ll focus Washington on creating new jobs in Michigan.