First Person: Losing a Job in This Economy Has Dampened My Optimism

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

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First Person: Losing a Job in This Economy Has Dampened My Optimism
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Derek and his wife, Jenn.

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 | It wasn't supposed to be this way.

When I got married in 2009, I moved down to Cincinnati to start a new life with my bride. My company allowed me to transfer to a different department, and I got to work.

However, something wasn't right with my position. Little by little, people started leaving my department, and they weren't being replaced. That's never a good sign for the stability of a business. Therefore, I started looking for other jobs in the area, and I looked at going back to school. I figured that I should begin preparations for a career change just in case I lost my job.

On Jan. 7, I was let go along with 90 percent of my department. Since then, I've applied for countless jobs, but the market for the financial services field is relatively closed here. I also applied for Ohio unemployment immediately, but money from the state has proven hard to depend on.

As a result, my family's income has dropped $35,000 this year.

Fortunately, I was somewhat prepared for losing my job. Thanks to the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, I was able to go back to school. One of the advantages to this particular college fund is that it also gives you an allowance for housing. That has proven invaluable this year. Now I'm just one month away from finishing my licensure program at Xavier University to become a teacher. I also did some freelance writing on the side, which was especially helpful in the first two months of my unemployment.

Still, despite finding some aid through the unemployment office and the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, we're hanging on by a thread. Our savings accounts are constantly low, and we're counting every penny. There have been times when I've considered going back into the military, but at age 34, I'm hesitant to give up on building my future at home in Ohio.

Yet that might be what happens if the American economy doesn't turn around soon. There's no guarantee that I will find a teaching job for next year, and I may be forced to make another life-changing decision to provide for my family.

The problem is that I don't believe President Obama's recent re-election will do anything to change my situation. I just don't have any faith in his policies. His re-election should have been a moment of celebration based on his original platform of hope and change, but that's not what I'm feeling. I'm concerned and even a little scared.

Maybe I'm wrong. Actually, I hope that I'm wrong. Maybe everything will be all right in four years. I guess we'll find out soon enough.

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