First Person: Four More Years... of Unemployment?

Down But Not Out: Yahoo! Readers Share Their Stories of Unemployment and Job-Hunting

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First Person: Four More Years... of Unemployment?

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Douglas Stewart

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 | January 2008. I don't remember the exact day, but I packed up my personal effects from the showroom on 7th Avenue in Manhattan and left for good. I decided I was fed up with the apparel industry. After more than ten years as an "Account Executive" (a nicer term for "salesman") I was planning on taking a year off to see what I wanted to do for a new career.

That was the last time I had real job. A job with a desk, a phone, business cards and, most importantly, a pay check. When I had left I remember thinking that if all else had failed, I could always come back to this industry. After all, I had the $100 million list. A binder full of business cards and an excel customer list with the most important buyers in the business. And then it all crashed.

I was still determined to take a year off, but as the prospect of getting our current president grew, I realized that if he put into effect half of his ideas, America was going to be a tough place to get a job. And that is exactly what happened. So I took two years off and tried to go back to work in my field to no avail. Times were tough and anyone who was hiring was looking for an employee who was a bargain. That I was not. And that was 2010. Not much has changed since then.

Now, in 2012, the start-up companies are fewer. So in turn the prospects for employment are much slimmer. Starting in January, the president has promised to raise taxes on those he has defined as "rich." With no economic indicators showing improvement, I wonder why now is the time to raise taxes on anyone. When he extended the Bush tax cuts, President Obama said that the time was not right to do so since the economy was still weak. Well, it is still weak. Add to that the fact that only a handful of companies know what the costs of health care or going to be. The entire country is literally stagnant.

And in my field I can only work when we are booming. With my savings completely gone, I may find myself with flipping burgers while dust collects on my $100 million binder. After applying for more than 300 jobs and receiving just two interviews I came to the realization that our job market was much worse than was being reported. That ratio of inactivity is unheard of in our history save the Great Depression era.

The 401(k) has been cashed in. With just under $5,000 in the account, the lump sum did not last long, even with being extremely frugal. I no longer go out to eat. Vacation, not a chance. There are a few of my friends that are in the same position. So I can only imagine revenue from restaurants is down. In turn, they may need to lay people off as well. It is a vicious cycle with no end in sight. If America does not become business friendly again we will be stuck this way forever.

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