Eighteen months ago, in December 2008, after Lehman Brothers went bust, this magazine ran a story called “My Laid-Off Life” that profiled several newly out-of-work New Yorkers. At that point, unemployment in the city was 7 percent. It peaked at 10.5 a year later. Now it’s 9.6—better, but nobody thinks the job market is exactly ravenous for new hires. Here we check back in to see how our laid-off New Yorkers are doing.
Ross Tillman, 25
as partnership director for My Sports Dreams, a company that organizes fund-raisers for youth sports teams.
In December 2008, Tillman had just lost his job at a head-hunting firm. As a consequence, he quit his graduate program at NYU, not wanting to go into debt to pay for it; then he and his live-in girlfriend broke up. He moved back into his parents’ home as his savings dwindled. He considered leaving the country to teach English in Europe or join the Peace Corps. But after a long talk with his father, he decided to send out more résumés. Last September, he got this job. Tragically, Tillman’s father was diagnosed with cancer shortly thereafter and died twelve weeks later. Tillman took two months of leave and recently returned to his job, where he’s a top salesman. “It’s a bittersweet pill to swallow,” he said. “I lost my dad, but I’m making a better living. It finally got me to grow up.”
Read Ross's interview one year ago.
Denise Durham Williams, 52
as director of One Family Inc., a nonprofit that provides services to homeless families, in Boston.
About a year after being laid off from her job as a diversity officer at Citigroup, Williams got a job out of town. She finds it fulfilling, but it doesn't pay as much as her previous position, and she's had to use retirement savings to pay her daughter's Smith College tuition. Her husband had to stay in New York, and it's their first significant time apart in 25 years of marriage.
Read Denise's interview one year ago.
Igor Gavrilov, 32
Gavrilov found a job as the VP of sales and trading for Carolina Capital Markets, Inc., an institutional-bond-brokerage firm, four months after he was laid off from the fixed-income division at Citigroup. Then, in February of this year, he rejoined Citigroup.
Read Igor's interview one year ago.
Michael Roston, 32
as senior producer for the True/Slant website.
Roston, who had been an online editor for the New York Sun, says he spent weeks in existential crisis after it went under in September 2008. By December he had a job at the True/Slant website startup. Recently, True/Slant was acquired by Forbes. Roston is happy with the new ownership but says being an employee during a corporate transition is like a game of red rover: “I don’t know if I’m going to keep running or if someone is going to catch me.”
Read Michael's interview one year ago.
Marc Thomas, 45
Thomas lost his job as an assistant at an architectural firm in August 2008. In his first year of looking for work, he sent out 1,195 résumés. He’s applied for jobs as a hotel concierge, an office administrator for a gay-porn company, a residential aide at a mental-health institution, and a manny, but he has yet to find work. He’s been able to escape his apartment, seeing theater on the cheap by volunteering as an usher and haunting discount-ticket sites, and he even managed a trip to Italy using frequent-flier miles and reward points from American Express. But his weekly $364.50 unemployment checks stop coming in July. “I feel like I’m sitting on a bomb,” he says, “and if I make it to August 22, two years without being employed, I feel like my life is going to blow up in my face. But it’s not. It’s not going to.”
Read Marc's interview one year ago.