MARYLAND (WDVM) — Sen. Chris Van Hollen met up with several leaders in the state on Wednesday to discuss some of Maryland’s most pressing issues moving forward relating to unemployment.
In a live-streamed virtual roundtable, Sen. Van Hollen spoke with Marc Morial, the president of the National Urban League, and Melissa Young, Director of National Initiatives for the Heartland Alliance, to discuss a problem that is new for many Americans, but also familiar to many others — long-term unemployment.
“The more time goes on, we know, the harder it is for them to get back in the workforce,” said Sen. Van Hollen. “And there were over a million people who were in that category before the pandemic, but now we’ve seen record numbers.”
Now that number looks more like 3.5 million. The three leaders spoke heavily about which groups were hit the hardest by the massive loss of jobs, such as minorities and people who had been in certain fields for many years.
“That for which you are trained is work that has basically gone away across the board,” said Morial.
The group also felt it was important to use their discussion time to refute some myths about unemployment. Namely, the belief that those who are suffering from long-term unemployment simply do not want to work.
“When we offer an opportunity for folks to work, they take it. Over and over again,” said Young. “When you offer a low-barrier opportunity to work. Folks are like, ‘Yes, that’s what I want to do.'”
Sen. Van Hollen is continuing to work on legislation that will extend current pandemic protections, especially those for unemployment.