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I had been unable to find a job in my field since April of 2011. My family is staying afloat and we are one of the lucky ones. Wondering what my field is? I am a SOCIAL WORKER with a masters degree! I thought the world needed social workers?! I'm sure it still does, but with such extreme budget cuts in NY state and nationwide, the non-­‐profit organizations in my community are just about keeping afloat and have already drastically cut services to those who need them most.

My sister is also a professional with a masters degree and is an unemployed TEACHER for over 2 years. Her family is also staying afloat, luckily. Doesn't the world need teachers, too? Where is the justice when hard-­‐working professionals in the helping fields cannot even find jobs? I can tell stories of dozens more like the friend who is an RN facing budget cuts and possible lay-offs right before the holidays.  Another family member was laid off from his job he held for years in a corporate setting.  We are the new middle class who found ourselves as stay-­‐at-­‐ home moms and dads quite by accident (and not initially by choice) after job loss due to budget cuts. We now cut coupons to keep food on the table and go without "luxury items" that I used to be able to enjoy when we had two incomes (like new clothes for myself, family vacations) so that our children can have what they need to succeed in school.  Some weeks I have to choose whether to buy groceries or put gas in the car.  I consider myself lucky because there are other families on unemployment who have to choose between buying food or paying the rent.

After much searching and just about giving up on finding employment, I was able to find a job which is part-time for 10 hours a week.  No insurance, no benefits, no paid time off.  But I was happy to accept this and my family will make it work.  I work those 10 hours a week in the evenings so I am only paying for two hours of childcare per day until my husband comes home.  Luckily my husband's job provides health insurance benefits for me and the children.  Any days I do work will prolong how long I will be able to collect unemployment for the days I am not working every week.

Unemployment is a complicated system and not easy to navigate at all.  My sister had become an "expert" at it and helped me navigate it.  My case was put on hold for 4 weeks last month and I was asked to complete surveys.  That was four difficult weeks my family went without my financial contribution from unemployment with no indication of when a ruling might be made on my case.  Luckily the case was ruled in my favor and I received retro-active payments for those weeks but it was not easy for us.  We watched money fly out of our savings just to pay for groceries and gas for the car.  Holiday gift shopping and non-essential items had to wait.  My mantra has become "We will make it work!" and we somehow we always do.

This blogpost is part of the #HERvotes blog carnival.

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