More About the Jobless Woman and the Pizzeria Guys in Obama’s Speech

Photo (cc) by Tony Webster

While the personal story of Army Sgt. 1st Class Cory Remsburg was the most powerful in President Obama’s State of the Union address, the stories of other Americans invited to attend the speech were also remarkable. We wanted to know more about these folks.

One of them was Misty DeMars, an Oak Park, Ill., mother of two young boys whose unemployment benefits ran out last month, near Christmas. Here’s how the president introduced her, while making his case that Congress should reinstate extended federal unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed:

She’d been steadily employed since she was a teenager. She put herself through college. She’d never collected unemployment benefits. In May, she and her husband used their life savings to buy their first home. A week later, budget cuts claimed the job she loved.

Last month, when their unemployment insurance was cut off, she sat down and wrote me a letter – the kind I get every day. “We are the face of the unemployment crisis,” she wrote. “I am not dependent on the government. … Our country depends on people like us who build careers, contribute to society … care about our neighbors. … I am confident that in time I will find a job. … I will pay my taxes, and we will raise our children in their own home in the community we love. Please give us this chance.”

What a powerful message. So, what else did we learn about her? The Chicago Tribute, citing LinkedIn, said DeMars worked at the Adler Planetarium from 2006 to 2013 and described her job as an executive assistant to a vice president there. She’s originally from Westhope, N.D.

The Tribune adds:

In May, DeMars and her husband, Leighton Taylor, purchased a $262,000 home in Oak Park’s Frank Lloyd Wright Historic District, taking out a mortgage of $248,900, public records show. He works in information technology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, according to UIC’s website.

The issue here is whether America’s jobless should continue to receive federal unemployment benefits after their state benefits have run out. The extended benefits became common during the recession, but many in Congress no longer see the need for them.

Democrats want to provide at least another three months of benefits. About 1.3 million long-term unemployed lost their benefits last month. “Each week since then another 70,000 jobless workers have reached the end of state benefits, which typically last six months, without becoming eligible for the federal benefits that millions have received since 2008,” says The Huffington Post.

Pizzeria raises its minimum wage

Another compelling story was that of John Soranno, co-owner of Punch Pizza, which has eight restaurants in the Minneapolis area. Last month Punch raised the minimum pay at its stores to $10 an hour. The chain employs 300 people, says the Star Tribune.

Soranno and employee Nick Chute, who sat in the first lady’s box, were mentioned in the president’s speech. President Obama supports an increase in the federal minimum wage and announced in the SOTU that he will require federal contractors to adopt a minimum wage of $10.10.

“Our decision had nothing to do with politics,” Punch co-owner John Puckett told the Star Tribune. “That’s what makes the recognition by the president and first lady such an honor. Punch made the decision to give raises purely basd on what is best for our business and our employees.”

Chute, a graduate of the University of Minnesota, has worked at Punch for 18 months.

Says the Pioneer Press, “Soranno and Puckett raised Punch’s starting wage after studying companies like California’s In-N-Out Burger and Costco, both of which make it a point to pay their employees what’s considered a living wage.”

What great bosses these two Minnesotans seem to be. Don’t you wish more employers were like them? Sound off in the comments below or on our Facebook page. Also, what did you think of the president’s Tuesday night speech?

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
Beware These 5 Common Work-From-Home Scams
Beware These 5 Common Work-From-Home Scams

You can spot scammers and con artists with a little know-how.

7 Things I Never Buy at Costco
7 Things I Never Buy at Costco

A bulk buy isn’t always the best buy. Here’s where I shop for these items instead of a warehouse club.

7 Free Tools for Saving More Money at Amazon
7 Free Tools for Saving More Money at Amazon

Use these websites and other tools to save money — or earn extra cash — when shopping at Amazon.

Could You Give Up These 7 Expenses to Save Thousands of Dollars a Year?
Could You Give Up These 7 Expenses to Save Thousands of Dollars a Year?

You could save more than $30,000 by setting aside these costly expenses for just one year.

19 Things You Should Never Buy at a Grocery Store
19 Things You Should Never Buy at a Grocery Store

These household necessities are overpriced at the grocery store. Get them cheaper at these places instead.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?
Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?

Can an adult daughter tap into her late mother’s benefit?

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia
This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia

Nearly half of U.S. residents may face this threat.

Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds
Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds

Resolve to be clutter-free in 2021 with these secondhand purchases.

11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It
11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It

Seriously? Fibbing about the weather is a crime? This and other little-known legal traps await the unwary.

Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?
Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?

Researchers say too many doctors are overlooking this potential source of hypertension.

13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free
13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free

There are many ways to get cheap or free services and goods after reaching a certain age.

These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy
These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy

These vehicles boast reliability, safety and long-lasting value.

21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss
21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss

Start off the new year by implementing these small-but-smart savings strategies. They’ll soon add up.

Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore
Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore

Starting this month, your ISP no longer can bill you for this fee.

15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021
15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021

Follow these tips to save, so you’ll have money for things that really matter.

Taking a Multivitamin? Here’s Why You Should Reconsider
Taking a Multivitamin? Here’s Why You Should Reconsider

A new study has bad news for the millions of Americans who spend money on multivitamins.

9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry
9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry

Keep more of future paychecks by eliminating these budget-busting unnecessary expenses.

11 Huge Retirement Costs That Are Often Overlooked
11 Huge Retirement Costs That Are Often Overlooked

Does your retirement budget account for all of these costs?

7 Tricks to Cleaning Your Bathroom Faster
7 Tricks to Cleaning Your Bathroom Faster

These tips can get your bathroom sparkling with little time and no elbow grease.

20 Amazon Purchases We Loved in 2020
20 Amazon Purchases We Loved in 2020

These practical products made everyday life a little easier last year — and will do so in the new year, too.

10 Times You’re Right to Be a Cheapskate
10 Times You’re Right to Be a Cheapskate

Clever shoppers can save money without sacrificing quality. Here is how to do it.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.