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JUST TRYING TO SURVIVE

Once a job-generating machine, Florida has led the nation in job losses recently. The Tampa Bay area has been the hardest-hit metro area. Nationwide, 9.5-million people are out of work. - Behind the numbers are tales of financial woes and personal struggles. Here are excerpts from the Let's Talk blog on tampabay.com.

Came to Tampa from up north in 2003 after I was pushed out of my management position in IT by a company buyout and resultant shutdown. . . . Well, here I am 5-plus years later. No home, had to sell it with no job, no new job, despite looking nationwide and sending at least 800 resumes the past five years. . . .

Now I have an MBA, BBA, and a number of technical certifications that I paid for in 2006 ($4,000-plus) to address recruiters and "potential employers" concerns about my "currency," so they said . . . It hasn't made a hill of beans difference.

What employers really are doing is practicing rampant age discrimination (yes, I am slightly over 50.) . . . and "citizen discrimination" since all they really want are H1Bs and L1s so they can pay less than what a citizen needs to live in the U.S.

The wealthy movers and shakers have killed the golden goose . . . and gouging from AIG and the list of "golden parachutes" paid to the guilty, things will just continue along. The average guy hasn't a chance anymore.

Ah well, time to worry about something very new in America. . . . something to eat!

Tapped Out Long Before This Mess

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I AM working, after being laid off last year. As a server. And I can't afford to pay rent, because no one is going out to eat anymore. Sad thing is seeing people every day trying to get MY job.

Dave

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I'm an electrician with 26 years of experience. A single dad with custody. I've always been proud to work and never needed help. Now I'm laid-off, only income is $250 a month in child support (and that's iffy). Too much to qualify for help. I have relatives that are all right financially so I keep having thoughts of leaving my 7-year-old with them and taking my miserable life. Thanks, oh greedy ones!

A Dad

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I've been out of work since last November. I'm 59 years old and, yes, they do discriminate against the older worker. I've sent my resume out and once in while I will get an interview. Once I get the interview and they see me, I never hear from them again. My husband is working but like many others we cannot live on one income. I was making 42K a year. Now I get unemployment which will soon run out. We have gone through all our savings just to keep the things we have. I was never late on our mortgage until two months ago when we ran out of savings. To catch up we are now living on cash advances from credit cards. I recently went on an interview with a local bank and it looks promising. The majority of people there were older. To make things worse, I have RA, and require medication that if we didn't have insurance would cost $5,600 every three months. We lost most of our 401(k) and I recently pulled out what was left and put it in a CD. How are we surviving? When I run out of unemployment, we stop paying the mortgage, extra $1,600 a month in our pockets. Figure it will take at least a year before they even try to foreclose.

hh

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I'm not out of work - yet, although I'm worried my company will go belly-up, it has laid off a lot of people, but I survived. Still, I keep looking around for something and there hasn't been anything else. I'm hunkered down though. I buy food and pay my bills and that's it. If I owned a home instead of being in an apartment now, I would plant a large garden. But I think I will grow some lettuce and a few tomato plants in my south-facing pantry window.

Lin

Comments have been edited for length and clarity.

How are you coping?

If you have a story to share about how you're coping in tough economic times in a tight job market, we'd like to hear about it. - If you're out of work, how are you surviving? - How are your prospects for getting a new job? - Have you changed fields as a result of the economic turmoil? - Please e-mail your responses to baylink@sptimes.com with "Jobloss" in the subject line; make sure to include your name, age, where you live and contact information.

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