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The Wealth Gap Is .75 Miles Wide


The Unemployment Diaries

He’s a financial analyst who’s been on the job hunt for fourteen months. She’s a former caretaker who hasn’t had work for six years. As Told to Cole Louiso

Mitchell Weisenberg
Age 36

My last major role was as an equity analyst at Rockefeller Financial. Then, based on my skill set and what was needed at the firm, I was moved to the equity-trading room. It wasn’t a good fit; after several months, they let me go. At first, I felt a sense of relief to be getting out of there and not doing something I didn’t want to. Then it sunk in. I’m a people person, so not having a job, not having somewhere to go, just sitting in the kitchen—that was really hard.

Luckily, I got married recently, and there was a wedding that I had time to help plan. After that, I took several exams, including the Chartered Financial Analyst exam, an important credential for analysts. Once I started preparing for those, I felt a lot more optimistic. I was also able to find people in similar situations on message boards and found a study group. That camaraderie really saved me. I took the test about a week ago, so fingers crossed.

I’ve met with about 10* temp agencies and headhunters. It’s no fun to look for a job on the web. I sent my résumé to networks like Monster and company websites, which resulted in two interviews. That gets your spirits down, when you’re not getting a response. We’re definitely more conscientious about our spending and being wasteful. I have financial support from my family, and my wife is a therapist, so we have health insurance. But sometimes I think, How am I going to make this happen?

Roxanne Hunter
Age 53

I worked as a caretaker for a company that helps the mentally handicapped. You teach them goals. You teach them how to do things for themselves, like brushing their teeth and going to the store. I also worked with low-functioning adults. But things were going on there that shouldn’t have, and I wasn’t involved, but they let me go. I got into a similar company and passed all the tests and took their training and worked one day, and then they let me go. When I was younger, I did some time upstate. Once they took my fingerprints, they saw I had a felony.

It’s hard to get a job. They’re not supposed to discriminate, but they do. Before, I was going out every day. I went to about 100 places and filled out résumés. I even went to McDonald’s. “We’ll call you.” That type of thing. I collected unemployment for a year, I think. Social Security is $595 a month. That’s no money. Food stamps, it’s $200 a month, but we eat $200 worth of food in a week, if you buy meat.

I refuse to go on welfare. Just wouldn’t do that.

But my family’s helped me all these years. I live on the third floor of my mother’s house, and when I was looking for work, they gave me carfare. About a month ago, I applied for a job at the laundromat. They called me and told me they had somebody else. I’m not being disrespectful, but at this point, I’ll shovel shit.

*Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Weisenberg met with 50 temp agencies and headhunters. He actually met with 10.


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