“I shopped at the dollar store because I really didn’t have any expendable income,” said Nancy Shields, who said she also picked through the toys at thrift stores to find gifts for her three grandchildren— which she was only able to afford because her sister sent her money before Christmas.
Earlier this year, Shields lost her townhouse and now rents a single room in her Southern California town. At one point, the 59-year-old managed a team of 60 people for a large retailer. She lost that job in 2011 but took another one — and a 20 percent pay cut — some months later. When that store closed in 2012, her luck ran out, and she has been looking for work ever since.
“My federal [unemployment] benefits are about $1,200 a month, and that’s all I get… I have been very dependent on the generosity of my family members,” Shields said. Her retirement savings exhausted, Shields said she didn’t know what she would do if Congress doesn’t authorize an extension.