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 | My family emphasized the importance of higher education. However, once I hit the age of 18, four more years of school did not sound appealing. Years later, while trying to advance in my career, it sunk in.
After I was turned down eight times for a promotion at my job in the commercial property and casualty insurance industry, I realized that if I ever wanted to advance, I would have to go back to school. I was not going to allow something I could control to stand in the way of advancing in my career. So I enrolled in a college tailored for working adults. Within a three-month period in 2006, I graduated college with a bachelor's degree in international business, purchased a home, was promoted and then fired.
Since I had been with the same company for more than seven years, I was not prepared to enter the vortex of online job-searching. In eight months, I applied for what seemed like a thousand positions both online and in person.
At 30, I relocated from North Carolina to Florida where I worked for eight months before I was laid off. Within a month I found a position on Craigslist with a tax resolution firm. Two years later, I discovered the company was grossly misrepresenting services to their clients. When I questioned their practices, they let me go.
Three months later, I found a temporary position at an insurance company. An opportunity for a permanent position became available 1,700 miles west. A week after my arrival, I was in a hotel eating a hard-boiled egg on a bagel as Thanksgiving dinner. The position never existed. I had exhausted my 401(k), depleted my savings moving out west and was spending the rest of my checking account on the hotel.
In November 2011, days away from losing a roof over my head, my brother sent me his last $1,100 to get me back home to Wilmington, Del.
Once again I was unable to find work. I felt overwhelmed with the frustration of not having a clear career path. While venting to my sister one day, a thought came to her. She presented me with the opportunity to become a service member through AmeriCorps. I remembered seeing the commercials on television that encouraged young people to dedicate a year to service work and often thought how I wished I had taken advantage of the opportunity when I was younger. Well, here it was. Dropped in my lap.
Serving in the community was exactly what I needed. I am in my second term with AmeriCorps. Currently my assignment is working with individuals who are seeking employment. And yes, I do recognize the irony.
Today, I look at the past six years as a remarkable journey which has provided me with a deeper understanding of who I am. At 35, I am fortunate to have the opportunity to serve in such an amazing organization. Along with valuing relationships more than material items, here are a few things I have learned:
I can live on ramen noodles. I will not compromise my ethics no matter how desperate the situation. No one needs cable. I am incredibly fortunate to have my faith and such an amazing and supportive family.
When I finish my current service term with AmeriCorps I will pursue a position with an international firm or a reputable insurance company.
- Employment & Career
- Bureau of Labor Statistics