On Christmas day, 60,000 Massachusetts residents will lose their unemployment insurance benefits. In the weeks following, 1,200 additional Massachusetts residents will lose their benefits every week. Family holiday gatherings in these thousands of households will be at best, subdued, at worst painfully tragic.

Massachusetts, while slowly adding jobs over the past several months, still has an unemployment rate of 8.1%, and 40% of the unemployed have been out of work for six months or more. Some estimate the effective unemployment rate at nearly 15%, when those who have given up searching for work, or who are grossly under-employed are factored in.

Many in Congress have apparently concluded that the recession is over, and it’s time to move on to other things, like extending tax cuts for our wealthiest citizens rather than extending unemployment benefits. But on Christmas day, the role of a government that truly cares for its citizenry will be in the spotlight. Let’s hope that the tragic symbolism is enough to shake members of Congress out of their complacency and heartlessness in time to make this holiday season one worth celebrating.

-Jerry Rubin, JVS President & CEO