Five million Americans are among the long-term unemployed--those without a job for 27 weeks or longer--according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Another 7.3 million are looking for work, while the unemployment rate sits at 7.9 percent. Numbers aside, individual stories illustrate how America is affected. To see how joblessness hits home, Yahoo News asked unemployed workers to share their job-hunting stories. Here's one.
FIRST PERSON | I am one of the older (40-plus) Americans who find themselves unemployed. I am 42 and have been out of work for two years. My definition of the American dream has truly changed. Being out of work for an extended period of time has taken its toll on me financially and mentally as well as has me questioning my faith. I can't seem to find an answer.
I had dreams of being a radio DJ/personality from the age of 8. Growing up in Chicago, I was influenced by personalities like Tom Joyner, Doug Banks, and Larry Lujak. During high school, I became the DJ for all the dances and community events. After high school I got a job at a local record store, where in a year, I was made manager. This job led me to my career in radio as an award-winning personality for Chicago's top radio station WGCI (107.5 FM) for 12 of my 14 years. I purchased a home and met my wife soon after; we got married and started a family.
The recession came and the impact was felt in the radio industry. Local radio talent was quickly replaced by syndication programming and music-only formats; my 20-year work history was dismissed with two words: "cost cutting." Currently, my unemployment benefits are exhausted and I have no income. I am relying on selling personal effects and handiwork to generate some income to pay my bills. My financial loss equates in the amount of $300,000 with majority of the amount due to loss of my home. Also, I suffered another loss in that my marriage ended.
I have filled out more than 100 applications for positions within my field and other industries and have had no success with getting a call back or an interview. My resume has been reviewed and revised on numerous occasions, but it never seems to matter. I get frustrated because I don't know if my online application is being reviewed by a person or going through an automated selection process. I can't tell you how disheartening it is when you receive a response email claiming, "We have your application on file and wish you the best in your job search or future endeavors."
My thoughts regarding the unemployment situation is that it's a serious crisis and somewhat self-inflicted due to American companies that have outsourced many of their jobs. Some of these jobs are not coming back, which President Obama mentioned during the campaign. Our focus needs to be on creation and training of jobs within new industries.
Those who need to go back to school to get a job in a new field need to have support in order to take care of their household. I would like to see better hardship programs put in place to assist with the mortgage and utilities to help alleviate the cost of living along with better opportunities for middle-aged people who have an excellent work record but are unable to use their current skill sets.