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
21 Purchases You Should Never Skimp On
21 Purchases You Should Never Skimp On

With some items, it makes sense to pay a little more rather than hopping on the lowest price.

Cut These 11 Expenses Now If You Hope to Retire Early
Cut These 11 Expenses Now If You Hope to Retire Early

Like the idea of financial independence? Part of the FIRE equation is cutting costs.

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.

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.

3 Ways to Downsize Your Life to Save Money, Time and Stress
3 Ways to Downsize Your Life to Save Money, Time and Stress

Downsizing can cut the bloat in your finances — and give you more free time and less stress.

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.

How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership
How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership

The warehouse club often has some of the cheapest gas in town. Here’s how you can get it as a nonmember.

10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home
10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home

If you like to keep things simple, avoid these purchases.

A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today
A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today

A few steps can keep your phone from ringing when a spammer calls.

This Company Makes the Best Tires in America
This Company Makes the Best Tires in America

Driver satisfaction with tires is at an all-time high, but one brand stands out.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

Vacuums from this brand can last a half-century, if not longer — and they’re hot on the resale market.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

This iconic dinnerware is prized for everyday use as well as reselling for profit.

This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance
This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance

One type of pain is especially associated with cognitive decline.

Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?
Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?

Knowing when to claim can help you maximize benefits.

Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs
Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs

Don’t let these health care expenses catch you off guard in retirement.

8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon
8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon

The giant retailer shines when it comes to these things, from basics to hard-to-find specialty goods.

Beware This Hidden Ingredient in Rotisserie Chicken
Beware This Hidden Ingredient in Rotisserie Chicken

Something foul may lurk in those delicious, ready-to-eat birds.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food
5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food

Anyone can take advantage of these resources.

5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees
5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees

All of these states are located in the same region of the nation.

7 Big Purchases You Should Never Make
7 Big Purchases You Should Never Make

Sometimes a big-ticket purchase is nothing more than a big waste of money.

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.

6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home
6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home

Stashing money around the house is anything but harmless.

5 Products You Should Never Buy Generic
5 Products You Should Never Buy Generic

Sometimes the brand-name version is clearly superior.

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.