Today’s New York Times runs the result of polling of 708 people who are unemployed. It’s a deeply frightening and depressing read, especially in a nation where job loss and financial struggle also means the loss of health insurance, medical and dental care; this week, BBC World News is running a powerful series of radio interviews with Americans and those in nations with government-supplied health insurance. The contrast is also sadly powerful.
The Times’ poll finds that:
61 percent say their unemployment benefits don’t cover their basic necessities
46 percent say they feel embarrassed or ashamed to be out of work
71 percent say their financial situation is fairly or very bad
Perhaps most telling, 75 percent say they think it likely they’ll run out of unemployment benefits before they find another job:
But the impact on their lives was not limited to the difficulty in paying bills. Almost half said unemployment had led to more conflicts or arguments with family members and friends; 55 percent have suffered from insomnia.
“Everything gets touched,” said Colleen Klemm, 51, of North Lake, Wis., who lost her job as a manager at a landscaping company last November. “All your relationships are touched by it. You’re never your normal happy-go-lucky person. Your countenance, your self-esteem goes. You think, ‘I’m not employable.’ ”
A quarter of those who experienced anxiety or depression said they had gone to see a mental health professional. Women were significantly more likely than men to acknowledge emotional issues.
Tammy Linville, 29, of Louisville, Ky., said she lost her job as a clerical worker for the Census Bureau a year and a half ago. She began seeing a therapist for depression every week through Medicaid but recently has not been able to go because her car broke down and she cannot afford to fix it.
Her partner works at the Ford plant in the area, but his schedule has been sporadic. They have two small children and at this point, she said, they are “saving quarters for diapers.”
“Every time I think about money, I shut down because there is none,” Ms. Linville said. “I get major panic attacks. I just don’t know what we’re going to do.”
Here are some videos the Times collected, of people telling their own stories.