Jobless in America: One Mom's Desperate Search for Work

Like millions of Americans, April is jobless. After losing her job at Pizza Hut due to a bout of illness, she has been searching for a job for six weeks now, with no luck. "It's really frustrating," she says. "I want a job. I'm very independent. I can't depend on my husband for everything. A little extra income, even if it's just a little, would help a lot."

But despite constantly applying for jobs online and visiting at least six stores, some multiple times, since she lost her job in May, April has done nothing but waste gas and time.

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April (who doesn't want her last name used) is hardly alone in her predicament. Unemployment rates have hovered at 6.5 percent of the population for 2014. That's down from a high of almost 10 percent in 2010, but still significant.

April, who is 31, has three children, a 10-year-old, a 2-year-old, and a 9-month-old. After she lost her job at Pizza Hut, she began applying for jobs online but would also drive to retailers, stores, and restaurants, to make sure a manager got her application. "They would always tell me they'll call me if anything opens up," she says. The half an hour drive each way would cost her $20 in gas -- money she didn't have to spend. 

"I'm so down on myself, I'm in therapy now," she says. "I'm so stressed and depressed over this job situation."

After graduating high school, April went to work at a Walmart in New York State, and stayed there for four years. But eventually friction between her and a manager got to be too much, and she quit. That left her with no unemployment benefits.

After losing that job, she moved in with her father and started taking online classes in criminology. "I wanted to better myself," she says. At this point in time, she was single mom to her eldest child. But after six months, her father couldn't pay the Internet bill anymore, and neither could she, and she stopped taking classes.

In 2011, she met her husband, got married, and had two more children. She took other jobs -- at another Walmart, at a Dollar General, and at the Pizza Hut -- but nothing ever worked out.

She enjoyed the Dollar General store, and she was generally happy to be making $8 an hour. But then she had to quit her job due to pregnancy complications. "The doctors kept pulling me out of work," she says. She decided she would come back to the store after she gave birth, but her husband was unexpectedly laid off, and the couple moved to a town that offered more job prospects. It also was closer to her in-laws, who could help out with childcare.

When her youngest daughter was 8-months-old, April started work at Pizza Hut. But her second day on the job, she got the flu, which turned into bronchitis, and lingered for weeks. Each day, she would have to make the drive into work to prove to her manager she was sick -- he would then just send her home. After three weeks, she recovered enough to say she'd like to come in and stay, but at this point her manager told her he didn't have enough hours, and would call her if he needed her. He never did.

That was almost two months ago.

April applies for jobs online while her two youngest are taking naps, and that isn't easy. "Some of these applications take two hours," she says. "And I've got a 2-year-old you can't take your eyes off for a second." Her mother-in-law helps with care -- but she's thinking about moving, and April dreads the day she might end up with no childcare help either. Then how will she job hunt?

She signed up for a privately-sponsored job help program. But they have yet to give her one job lead.

While barely scraping by on her husband's $1,400 a month (after taxes) salary (their rent alone is $1,000), April is embarrassed that she's had to rely on government assistance such as food stamps and Medicaid (April has never had employer-sponsored health insurance). "My husband and I hate to be on government assistance -- people say 'Get off your ass and get a job' -- if only it were that easy!"

Despite the fact that April says is stressed, depressed, and often feels like giving up altogether, she still has prospects. April, who long ago taught herself HTML coding, has been asked to create a website for a friend.  "If I could get that going, it would be great," she says. She has updated her resume in hopes of getting an IT position.

And although April feels like it's been forever since she cashed her last paycheck, six weeks isn't a huge amount of time to be looking. Experts say you can roughly expect to look one month for each $10,000 you want to earn in yearly salary.

"I know I made poor job choices in the past," she says. "But I'm a hard worker; I have great references. When I look into my future, I see myself working stably, and bringing home money to support my kids without the government. That's my dream."

Are you having a hard time finding a job? What have you done to find employment?


Image via April

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