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've been unemployed or underemployed for around three years. I'm 47, and I reside now with my mother in Cypress, Texas, a Houston suburb.
Up until this past May, I was employed on an as-needed basis for a private investigations company, working an average of 15 hours a month. During that time, I was on partial unemployment, which meant $240 a month, and I briefly received assistance under SNAP, which is hard to get if you are an able bodied male.
In some ways, I'm lucky because I have my mom as a financial safety net. She is a retired teacher and has her teacher retirement along with Social Security, and she has made very good financial decisions throughout her life. If it wasn't for her, I'd be on the streets. She provides me with food and shelter.
In March of 2008, I had opportunity to be part of a start-up investigations company where I was the director of investigations. This was about the time the economy went downhill, and the company failed. I had my own private investigator license at the time, but lost it because I couldn't afford the monthly business insurance. I went to work as needed for another investigative company under its license.
When I was on unemployment benefits, I was required to do at least three job searches a week. I usually did more in the beginning. It became very frustrating to apply online through some website, knowing that probably no person was ever going to see my resume or application. I understand why this process exists, but in the past, there was a benefit to having to go apply in person. People got to see you. I went to apply at one investigative company in person, and they still made me fill out an application online in a room with computers. Once you entered the room, the only door to go out of was to the outside. You couldn't even go back and ask the receptionist questions or ask for clarification about something on the application.
To date I've applied to more than 150 jobs. I've received four interviews.
About a year ago, I started a maid service with my mom. We just manage it since neither one of us can do the actual cleaning, which means that we are at the mercy of employees. So our employees make money while we make only $150 a month. Some of that is eaten up by advertising. What's left is what I live on.
When I watch the news and see stories of other unemployed people, I feel a little better knowing I'm not alone. That feeling only lasts for a few minutes. Some days I feel like I may never ever have another job. It hurts to my core to be in this situation.
I don't blame President Obama or even former President Bush. Neither one of them is a king who rules alone. Our economy was failing slowly, caused by many factors. Since it didn't happen overnight, I don't expect for it to improve overnight. I don't believe President Obama's re-election will have a huge effect on the job hunting situation. Europe and other parts of the world are having economic problems, and our presidents aren't to blame for other countries.
What I would like to see done for the long-term unemployed is provide more available career re-training. There needs to be more access, perhaps with grants for the unemployed to take courses in something new. I want to get a paralegal certification to boost my marketability as a private investigator. Unfortunately, I can't afford to pay for courses.