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Unemployment takes emotional, financial toll

Jobless lack health care, have trouble sleeping.

By Teresa Mears Dec 15, 2009 2:12PM

Tammy Linville of Louisville, Ky., lost her clerical job a year and a half ago. Her boyfriend is still working, but his hours have been cut and he’s earning less. Her car broke down, and she can’t afford to fix it. The couple are struggling to support themselves and their two small children.


 “Every time I think about money, I shut down because there is none,” Linville told The New York Times. “I get major panic attacks. I just don’t know what we’re going to do.”


The 29-year-old woman was interviewed for a Times story about a new Times/CBS News poll demonstrating the emotional and financial toll that losing their jobs is taking on the unemployed.


Nearly half of the adults surveyed admitted to feeling embarrassed or ashamed because they’re out of work. More than half have borrowed money from friends or relatives, or skipped medical care because they couldn’t afford it. Nearly half report anxiety or depression.


Vicky Newton, 38, of Mount Pleasant, Mich., is typical of the people surveyed.

“I lost my job in March, and from there on, everything went downhill,” Newton, 38, a single mother, told The Times. “After struggling and struggling and not being able to pay my house payments or my other bills, I finally sucked up my pride. I got food stamps just to help feed my daughter.”


She had to give up her home, which is now in foreclosure, and move 90 miles away to a property owned by her father.


The Times invited people who were interviewed to share their stories in video, and you can see some of their stories here.


These are some of the other findings of the poll on the unemployed:

  • 86% say the job loss has created a crisis in their lives.
  • 69% are more stressed than usual, and 55% have had trouble sleeping.
  • 61% said unemployment benefits are not enough to cover basic necessities.
  • 60% of people have taken money from savings to pay bills.
  • 47% are without health-care coverage.
  • 40% of parents have noticed behavioral changes in their children they attribute to their job loss.
  • 26% have received food stamps.

The Survivors Club has gathered a comprehensive list of online resources to help people who are unemployed cope with both the financial and emotional toll and find new jobs.

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