Out of Work: Region 8 Couple Struggling

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - More Americans lost their jobs in January than in any other month in 34 years. According to the U.S. Labor Department, more than 598,000 people were laid off in January, including many in Region 8.

More than 2 million people who have lost their jobs have been unemployed for 6 months or longer. Officials at Express Personnel in Jonesboro reported Friday a slight increase in the number of people asking for a job assistance. Many of those people live on a fixed income.

With the status of the economy, if both the breadwinner and other spouse are out of work, the situation gets desperate.

"It's just real tough to find anybody that wants to hire right now," said Brad Nelson.

Brad has been unemployed for the last month. He's worked 4 temporary jobs through employment agencies. He said once the time comes for a company to make the decision to keep him or let him go, he gets the pink slip.

"We just now got caught up on our taxes, but I figure in the next two or three weeks, we'll be behind again and constantly trying to play catch up," said Mr. Nelson.

"I do have a lot of family support. We really do, and if it weren't for them, we'd probably wouldn't, we'd probably be on the streets," said Erica Nelson.

Erica and Brad said they've had rough patches in their 11 year marriage, but nothing compares to the harsh reality of finding a job in today's economy.

"I've worked since I was 18 and I've always had a job and I've never went this long without a job, ever," said Erica.

Erica has been drawing an unemployment check worth about $165/week. She was let go from her job at a Jonesboro retirement home in September, and has had trouble finding work since.

"It's usually two months at a time when we get a bill and once we got half of it paid, it's time for the other half," said Erica.

Erica and Brad said the most frightening thing about the whole situation is not having enough money to take care of their 6-year old son, Jacob.

Jacob's ADHD treatment is paid for by ARKIDS health insurance.

"It's definitely a challenge because we have to keep him clothed and shoes, lunch money, the school always have to have money," said Erica.

The Nelson's, like millions of other American families, have been doing what they can to get by.

"Sometimes I want to throw my hands up, because I've got a lot of experience and a lot of places work shorthanded, and I don't understand why they're not hiring," said Erica. "We are willing to do anything just so we have money to pay our bills and have a place to live."

"I'm sure we'll probably find something but even if it's a gas station, you know, we'll do it," said Erica. "I'm really afraid of what's going to happen but I'm hoping, I'm hoping we can get a job and all we can do is pray to the lord and let him take care of it."

"I've been running around all over. I've been doing tests for like the major companies around here. I've been doing the temporary jobs. I've been doing lawn care, just about anything really just to make it," said Brad. "In a factory, you'll get in there. You'll work a month or two and you'll think I only got a month left and they're going to hire me, and then they'll let you go just like that."


The Craighead County Public Library reported Friday an increase in the number of people using its resources.

"When talk of a recession started last fall we noticed and increase, but since December and Christmas we've noticed a dramatic increase in our computer users," said Melanie Moore, employee at the library.

Moore said people are using the library to use computers and check out higher education books to help them find a job. Many people even ask librarians for help in searching for jobs.

"They are asking us for assistance and they're asking us if we know any places that are hiring, and for job links and such like that," said Moore.

Moore said customers are checking out GED books, ACT books and higher education books. They are also checking out books regarding starting businesses.

"We actually had to order additional copies of our GED books because we've had such a high demand for them," said Moore.

"The library is an excellent resource for people that can't afford to have their own internet at home and they can come up here and we can help them, so as long as the recession keeps going as it is, absolutely, we're going to have an increase in our patrons," said Moore.